How to get the best out of Career Coaching

Once you find the right career coach, it takes some effort to make the experience effective and rewarding. Here are a few tips.

  • Consider scheduling recurring sessions (e.g., once a month) instead of a one-time meeting. In my experience, coaching works best when you commit to it for a length of time. Lasting changes take time and require your coach to work with you over multiple sessions to go deeper into your specific areas of focus and understand the context of your unique challenges. Regular check-ins are important to tailor the process and assess progress and receive feedback. Also, effective coaching is built on trust between the two parties and this takes time.
  • Before you begin your first interaction, send your coach a few details about your background and what you plan to discuss. This allows them to be prepared and keeps the conversation focussed and specific.
  • Tailor the frequency, time and duration of the sessions to meet your needs. For example, if you don’t need an entire hour, it’s ok to have shorter sessions.
  • Be honest with your coach. There is no need to put on an act. Coaching is not a performance test to impress your coach. This is your time and you need to make it work for yourself.
  • More importantly, be honest with yourself. Be authentic in your conversations. Freely talk about your struggles and biases. When discussing a difficult problem, faithfully describe your feelings. Don’t be apologetic or defensive about your actions. A good coach understands human limitations and will treat yours as such and will not use this information to judge you.
  • After each session, work on the advice your coach gives you. Don’t treat the sessions as just a forum to let out some steam (although there is nothing wrong in occasionally venting out). Remember, real change happens outside the coaching sessions. So treat the “homework” seriously.
  • Maintain a journal of your progress. Once you are clear about the changes you want to make, specify what they will look like to you. Evaluate yourself regularly and often against these mental markers. Don’t forget to share this with your coach regularly.
  • Be patient. There are no quick fixes. Don’t expect your coach to give you ready solutions. When it comes to individual progress, there are no right or wrong answers. An effective coach will lead You to the answers that You are seeking. The purpose of good coaching is to provide you with a system of self-evaluation and discovery. So don’t feel frustrated when you ask a question and don’t get an immediate solution.
  • Finally, every once in a while, conduct a “Retrospective” of the coaching process. This can be done either on your own or with your coach, evaluating what’s working well for you and what’s not. This helps you to tweak the process as and when required.

/assets/career-coaching/coach.jpeg from the George Grantham Bain collection

Note: This post was first published on , a mentoring initiative where I volunteer my time for free one-on-one mentoring sessions.