Not getting the developmental support you want? You’re not alone. That’s why many early-career professionals – and executives – are pursuing developmental coaching independently and after hours. They’re investing in their careers, and they’re doing it virtually.
For more join our video-conference on Tues., Feb. 27th at 2PM ET
During Business Hours
What you do during business hours, whether you’re in sales, operations, finance, or IT, involves tasks and actions directly linked to your role and objectives. The focus is on doing stuff for others, acting for purposes beyond yourself – it’s why you get paid.
If you’re highly productive and make few demands upon management, you’ll be appreciated as “low maintenance.” If you work cooperatively with others and go above and beyond to ensure success of a group effort, you may be prized, labeled as a “high potential” candidate for advancement.
In most organizations, distinguishing yourself in these ways earns you privileges: mentoring from the boss; recognition and bonuses; and opportunities for promotion and development. Companies are more inclined to invest development dollars in this select few, few of whom are early career people.
Are you among the distinguished few? If not, do you know why? Do you know what you need to do to become a member of this group? Do you feel disadvantaged? What do you tell yourself about not being a member of this group? And what if there were a way to change things for the better?
That’s precisely what coaching after hours is intended to help you do. But it’s often not funded by your employer. Rather, it’s an investment you make in yourself. You thereby privilege yourself and increase the likelihood of distinguishing yourself during business hours.
The Upside of This Approach
Most will face some version of this situation early in their career: They observe that some easily and naturally get noticed, thrive, and advance. They puzzle over how to better their own situation. And they may end up feeling frustrated, “dissed,” marginalized. But then what?
You might take this as a wake-up call and call to action. Perhaps beginning from this starting point can be an advantage. Why? Because it causes us to learn more earlier about controlling our own destiny in life and that we need not do it alone, nor need we depend on our employer to do it for us.
Some of what we’ll need to learn is technical, but much of it is not. The nontechnical learning concerns how we cultivate relationships, interact with others, and hone skills for getting work done by leveraging the resources around us. These adaptive skills that will serve us well in future challenges.
So, we only harm ourselves if, upon seeing others getting “unfair” advantage, we become discouraged, resentful, jealous, or cynical. Remember: We are supremely adaptive creatures, and most careers are built upon determined effort as much or more than upon raw aptitude or talent.
The best help for those who are motivate comes in the form of a stimulating coaching relationship. It pairs a developing professional with a highly skilled coach, one who is trained in psychologically-based growth and development. Career growth is personal, it’s identity development and adaptive learning.
Learning and growth of this kind requires disarming our defenses. We must set aside social comparisons, quiet self-defeating thought, and voice our questions, fears, and feelings of inadequacy without fear of judgment. This open, honest self-examination readies us for growth.
We then proceed with in an attitude of practical and reflective curiosity. Practical means “pertaining to practice” (i.e., doing, deciding, taking effective action), and curiosity opens our mind.
Trust and emotional safety are necessary. The coach must help his/her client see what they may not usually notice because it resides out of view, in a blind spot. The coach must be a mirror and reveal patterns of thought, behavior, interest, and striving that help and hinder situation-specific adaptive action. When we feel trust and respect, we can also hear constructive challenge (“tough love”).
Yes, it’s a combination of supportive-encouraging presence (not unlike that which we hope to receive from a caring parent or mentor) and a bit of tough love that is required to promote growth. We will seldom get all of this from a spouse, partner, supervisor, or mentor. A psychologist or someone with equivalent training and skills is the best option in my opinion.
Making Help Accessible
Virtual coaching overcomes geographic constraints and eliminates travel costs. Whether you’re in Manhattan, New York or Manhattan, Kansas, you can work with a world-class coach. The quality of a videoconference connection enables us to closely approximate the feeling of being in the same room.
Being able to meet after hours – just as you may go to the gym after hours to maintain your physical self – allows you to escape the rush of an office environment. It prompts us to experience our interaction as a part of our life as a whole. We’re free to consider how challenges at work and goals for career affect and are affected by our commitments at home and our longer-term personal goals.
Finally, virtual coaching reduces costs for the coach. Travel time and expense are eliminated. This makes it possible to price coaching more reasonably, making it feasible for anyone. The developing professional need not depend on his or her employer to sponsor the coaching. Still, if the employer wants to fund the work, and if the client wishes to involve their manager, that too is possible.
(To Learn more join a brief videoconference, Tues., Feb. 27, 2PM ET.)