Every other person I talk to is having coaching. I am not knocking it – I have worked with a coach in the past and benefited enormously. But I was initially reluctant. Not because I thought I did not need it but rather because it seemed uncomfortably nebulous. How often would we meet? What would we talk about?
I was encouraged to take it up when I was offered a promotion, to help me make the transition to the new demands. Many people embark on coaching in similar circumstances: as a reaction to a major career event rather than part of the planning for that event. Having experienced the benefits for myself, I believe it is better to do it at any time than not at all but the earlier you start, the more effective it can be.
Central to success is the relationship you have with your coach and this has to be based on trust. The six-step financial planning process used by CFP professionals can be adapted to provide a blueprint for getting the most out of coaching.
Step 1: Define the relationship
What are the roles and responsibilities of each party and how will the coaching work in practice? Do not move on to the next step until you are both happy with the relationship.
Step 2: Gather data, including goals
What are you looking to achieve? Where do you want to get to?
Step 3: Evaluate your career status
What skills, experience and attributes do you have at the moment? Where are you now?
Step 4: Develop coaching recommendations
The coach will be able to suggest different ways of helping you reach your goals and fill the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.
Step 5: Implement recommendations
Having worked out where you want to be, it is now about doing what you need to do. This is why you need a strong relationship with your coach: weaknesses will show up as you work through this stage, making it harder to succeed.
Step 6: Monitor recommendations
Ongoing monitoring is crucial, with regular reviews to check you are still on track to meet your goals and following the most effective strategy. Coaching is not a one-off event but an ongoing and iterative process.
By getting the basics right and following a clear process, coaching can help you be more effective in your current role, as well as prepare you for whatever the future holds. It is such an individual experience it needs to be nebulous, which may be uncomfortable for those among us who like structure, but it is worth taking the plunge. Coaching does not give you the answers but it will help you to find them. Discovering something for yourself is a powerful experience.
Sam Rees-Adams is director of professional standards at the Institute of Financial Planning