Coached to success: Page 3

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Sources for professional coach bios and referrals

Academy for Coach Training

Coach Referral Service at Coach U Inc.

International Coach Federation Referral Page

New Ventures West Certified Coaches
One especially dramatic technique White taught Essigs was to devote certain days to a single theme. For example, he spends Wednesdays taking care of all the activities that support his key projects. Focusing on one kind of task for many hours builds momentum. He also reorganizes his calendar at the beginning of each month, setting aside a certain number of days each for focused tasks, support activities, free time, and travel. Now when people call, he declines opportunities that don't match his priorities.

Coaching made it possible for Essigs to reduce his hours of work, regain excitement for his work, and balance the elements of his personal and professional lives. He also identified and trained his replacement, so he could move to a higher-level position within the organization later in January 2000.

Out with the old

A coach can also help clients figure out why they're miserable in their current positions. According to career coach Bumpus, "Usually they're compromising their values somehow, whether it's in terms of time, freedom, creativity, or integrity. Often they can't be objective enough to see it on their own."

Melanie Flanders learned how to delegate work with the help of her coach Joan Bolmer.
Melanie G. Flanders, an IT information architect and documentation designer, was working for a software development company in Texas. It was a good job, but she wasn't happy and had begun to do freelance training and design work on the side. "I had things I wanted to achieve, but I wasn't getting the results that I wanted," says Flanders. She needed somebody to help her develop a career plan.

Flanders turned to coach Joan Bolmer for advice on starting her own business. Flanders knew she wasn't ready to go out on her own, but she wanted to get started. "First, she needed to get financially and psychologically prepared for the move to self-employment," says Bolmer.

Flanders needed to decide how she wanted to run her business. Did she want to be a sole proprietor or have others work for her? Through coaching, Flanders was able to put concrete financial goals in place. Then fate stepped in. Nine months after she began the coaching, the company where Flanders worked had a large layoff, and she was given a severance package. Even though she launched her business sooner than planned, Bolmer helped her with self-confidence and tactical issues along the way.

One of Flanders' major concerns was marketing--she simply didn't think she knew how to do it in a way that would support her business. Working with Bolmer, she realized that she was a born networker who was promoting her business all of the time. She needed help learning how to close on her deals. Bolmer also helped Flanders learn how to delegate some of her work to contractors as needed when the load is more than she can handle.

In Oct. 1998, Flanders decided to incorporate. Today she has her own successful company, KnowledgeMasters Inc., where she serves as chief information architect. The company provides training, information design, and technical documentation services to several large and small companies in Texas, including a large computer manufacturer, an oil refinery, two mainframe software development companies, and another consulting firm.

After she was laid off, Melanie Flanders launched her own business--with tactical help from coach Joan Bolmer.
"I've never been happier in my life than I am now," says Flanders. "I used to be a real worrywart about things that I couldn't control, expending energy in the wrong direction."

Costs and results

Coaches are expensive, charging anywhere from $200 to $500 per month for weekly individual telephone coaching and as much as $1,000 per month and more for on-site corporate coaching.

If IT pros decide that they want to invest in coaching, the coach chosen should be knowledgeable about the specific issues at hand. Job and career-transition coaching is different from personal development coaching, although one coach may be trained or skilled to address several kinds of issues. While some coaches focus on goal setting, time management, and business communications, others take a more holistic approach, working on personal and spiritual as well as professional issues.

As clients begin to see results, they generally experience renewed excitement for their work. They often decide to sharpen their business skills, so they can move to the next level within their organizations. Sometimes clients dip in and out of coaching, checking back in when they want to work on a new task or problem or when they hit a wall on their own.

Coaching is effective because it creates an ongoing relationship focused exclusively on the client's personal transformation. White, Essigs' coach and the author of Work Less, Make More: Stop Working So Hard and Create The Life You Really Want!, believes you should only pursue the things that are really going to pay off for you. "The client identifies what they are good at, and then we leverage around that," she says.

Essigs says that coaching has given him a much better sense of what's important. It helped him learn that he could better assist others and more profoundly impact their lives by giving them his full attention. "I've become a much better leader, a much better spouse, and a better father, too," he says.

Whether IT professionals want to receive more recognition for their efforts, acquire new skills and competencies, or achieve better balance between work and the rest of their lives, coaching can provide customized hand-holding that gets results. //

Andrea R. Williams is a freelance writer specializing in business & technology, professional development, and consumer issues. She is based in northern New England and can be reached at andrea.williams@valley.net.

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