Coaches can help in other ways. Jennifer Peoples is a project manager for Documentation Associates Consulting Group Inc. (DACG) in Houston, an international business with about 1,000 employees. DACG helps companies map their business practices and teaches employees how to use complex business software. Peoples first contacted Joan Bolmer, a business and personal coach based in Houston, after Bolmer presented a seminar to DACG project and operations managers. Peoples knew she needed help in her new position as project manger. She describes herself as soft-spoken rather than bold, but in her new role she was supposed to be the cheerleader and point person for her clients. To be listened to, to be taken seriously as an authority in her field, and to be influential across client-organizational structures were all critical to her success. Working with Bolmer, Peoples identified that honing her presentation skills would help her develop credibility and visibility. Project managers typically work on-site with clients, so Peoples only saw her supervisor once a week and longed for more day-to-day feedback. Although she did receive support from operations management, she wanted to have additional resources to support her. With Bolmer's help, she succeeded. "I tended to avoid the political side of things," says Peoples. "Even though it can seem beneficial to focus exclusively on a project, you can get tunnel vision and miss the chance to interact with people to make sure everyone is on board with the process." Peoples immediately implemented some of her coach's suggestions, such as being more assertive in the workplace and she has steadily progressed over 18 months. She is now more politically savvy and handles herself more confidently in meetings. She delegates more effectively with both clients and other consultants on their teams. "It's great to have a coach that I can call to ask specific questions and get real-time advice about particular situations," says Peoples. Through coaching, Peoples successfully transitioned from doing the documentation work to leading and managing several small teams ranging from five people to as many as 14. She's received steady pay increases and good performance reviews, and she interacts more effectively with her clients and other team members. Feeling increasingly confident, she doesn't hesitate to make herself visible to upper management to sell the documentation-training effort to other managers and DACG clients. Pause, then fast forward As IT professionals move up within an organization, they often fail to see the difference between leading and doing. They were promoted for great performance, but the workload has probably spiraled out of control because they are still doing everything, instead of learning how to inspire their team to take on more of the work.
Questions to ask a prospective coach What can you tell me about your coaching practice? What is your specialty or niche? How long have you been coaching? How many clients have you coached? What is your professional background and experience? What is your coaching format (meeting options, how often, and how long)? What value-added services do you provide for clients? What is your fee structure? Do you have a referral or two that I can contact? Source: Coach U Inc.
Rich Essigs, 32, is the associate director of North American e-commerce for a Fortune 25 consumer products company. Responsible for collaborating with customers and developing e-commerce strategies for the company, Essigs was feeling overwhelmed by data and commitments. He was chronically behind and was stealing time from his personal life to keep from getting further behind at work. Essigs accidentally found his coach, Jennifer White, during the summer of 1998 while searching the Internet for case studies about successful professional improvement methods. He called the Missouri-based coach with a synopsis of the issues he was struggling with, which included too much information, too much work, and not enough time. He was initially skeptical and thought using a coach was kind of hokey. But the two clicked. So much of what White said in that first call made sense that Essigs agreed to a round of sessions lasting 90 days. "The beauty of White's stuff is that it is so simple and solves problems," says Essigs. He thought that coaching
Rich Essigs, an associate director of e-commerce, reduced his noncritical workload 80% by working with coach Jennifer White.
Rich Essigs thought coaching might make his problems less severe, but he never imagined that implementing some new systems would solve them.