Archive for the ‘Careers’ Category

What Is Transition Coaching?

July 24, 2017


There is a joke in the coaching world that goes like this: What’s the definition of a Life Coach? The answer-A Life Coach is a friend who gives you advice and then charges for it. I believe that this perception is why many of my coaching colleagues hesitate to identify themselves as Life Coaches. And to make matters worse, (or funnier if you appreciate the joke) many people who call themselves coaches have no formal training or certification in coaching.  So like all jokes, perhaps this one contains more than a kernel of truth.

So what is coaching generally, and what exactly is Transition Coaching? I’ll start with what coaching is not. Coaching isn’t consulting. Consultants have opinions and agendas, and recommend strategies and actions to their clients. Coaches work with clients to bring forth their own answers to questions, problems and reaching goals. Coaches aren’t mentors. We don’t share our experience and wisdom to teach clients what to do. We understand that our clients possess the best answers to their own questions and are committed to assisting them in getting to those answers. We are not therapists.  Coaches don’t work with people whose past is such a major factor in their present that it prevents them from moving forward. If the past continually comes up for a client, a responsible coach will suspend coaching and recommend therapy as a precursor to more coaching.  Coaches work with those who are doing well and really want to be their absolute best. We work with clients to identify and align their core values with their lives and remove thoughts or behaviors that are impediments to reaching specific goals and/or reaching their full potential.

When describing Transition Coaching, I often say I work with those who have lost their jobs or who want to lose their jobs, and don’t know what to do or how to do it. My process in working with people in transition begins with an attitudinal assessment called the ELI, as well as a values assessment. After clients complete the ELI, I provide them with a detailed debrief of what is revealed in their assessment; this becomes the foundation for the coaching process. The values assessment is an important component of their evaluation of potential employment opportunities. My clients also complete a detailed questionnaire addressing their personal and professional goals, where in life they’re fulfilled and where they’re not.

In working with people in transition, I also apply my 30 plus years of executive search experience to the coaching process. I sometimes “switch hats” from coach to search consultant, to provide clients with relevant stories about their peers, ideas about networking, improving their resumes and interviewing, etc. This switch from my coaching to consulting “hat” only takes place after I clearly ask for and receive the client’s permission to do so. Coaches hold clients accountable for completing tasks that are critical to the achievement of specific goals. Career transition is very challenging and stressful, so I maintain a focus on making the journey as positive and pleasurable as possible for clients, sometime including humor. Not surprisingly, laughter can be a useful tool in coaching sessions.

One additional comment about life coaching. When people are going through a career transition, it impacts every aspect of their lives. Our core values reside in everything we do. Clients set the agenda for each session, and as they move forward on their journey, they often wish to work on personal issues that impact their career transition. I work with clients to develop a “holographic view” of the choices they can make while they travel the transition path. The holographic view considers the potential impact of their personal and professional choices on everyone and everything in their lives.

Prospective clients often ask “What can I expect from Transition Coaching?” For those who seek a guarantee of securing their dream job, coaches can’t promise anything like that. What I promise is a better informed, clearer and more enjoyable transition process. Additionally, clients can expect a deeper understanding of their competencies or transferable skills, and some consulting input on how to best express those skills in person and on their resumes. When clients are clearer and more informed about who they are and how they are presenting themselves, they have better results that sometimes include exploring careers that they might not have considered without the expertise and support of a well-trained, committed and supportive coach.