Getting Started with Onsite Career Coaching

Why and how to implement onsite career coaching for employees was detailed in previous posts: Investing in Onsite Career Coaching and Implementing Onsite Career Coaching. To wrap up this series of posts about implementing a career coaching program I have outlined three steps for getting started. Onsite career coaching is easy to implement, easy modify as you learn, and is easily reversible if the company’s strategy around employee development changes!

Step 1: Communicate an understanding of the need and that support is available

Since encouraging employees to participate in the program is itself trying to change behavior, use the why, how, what model to spark the change.

Tell employees that the why is change. They already know, see and feel it. Change is constant, and applies not only to business but to individual careers as well.

For both businesses and employees, change can either force you into a defensive posture or spur you to get ahead of it and drive it.

With regard to employees, how to cope with change by driving it usually means converting it into an opportunity, using it to acquire new, in-demand skills and experiences.

Learning and skill attainment are the motivation of many employees as they work their way through their careers by successfully mastering tasks. Thoughtful career strategizing deliberately and purposefully leverages acquired knowledge.

By supporting employees to create their own career strategies and then execute them, the company takes another step toward creating a culture of collaborative behavior that is contagious. Supporting employees who in turn support customers. Most often resulting employees willingly upgrading themselves in a way that improves collaboration in the firm as well as overall company performance -all in a changing environment.

Although career planning and management are 100% driven by each employee, the company supports the process by sharing the forecasted skills and experiences it thinks will be demanded in the future. This will be gleaned from the business’s strategy, in job postings, and from aggregated performance review metrics.

The what, or action steps, is that the company is now offering professional career coaching to help each employee create a future looking career strategy that will help them learn how to take advantage of change, learn new skills, and gain experiences that will ensure the employee remains employable by successful companies.

Main themes to communicate:

  • Building skills the employee wants and the company needs for the future is mutually beneficial.
  • Developing employees toward personal career goals ultimately better serve the company’s customer.
  • Companies are comprised of employees and employee success yields company success.

From the communication process point of view, a long-term program like career coaching requires a constant drumbeat. Make use of all opportunities and of all channels. In company communications, highlight the mutual benefit it provides the employee and the company. Have managers discuss it with employees. Add it into company newsletter articles, intranet and wiki sites. Put it into the list of all the other training options. Add it to the company benefits list. Promote it!

Step 2: Allow time for repeat conversations

Although the goal is to teach and coach employees to create a career strategy for themselves, it takes more than one session to put the strategy pieces together and develop an action plan that they can execute and perhaps to start developing new habits.

These conversations are generally very personal and specific to the individual and require some introspection, self-assessment, and research on the part of the employee.

That all takes some time.

A coach can talk with about six or seven people each day so if each participant needs six meetings or so to get going, then by estimating how many employees might be interested you can figure out how many coaching days are needed.

Create a scheduling system, reserve an office out of the mainstream of daily operations, and continually publicize the program as a resource integrated with other efforts the firm offers to develop people.

No tucked away office space available? No office at all? Use video conferencing, Skype, or FaceTime, all of which are reliable and allow visual communication which is better than voice alone over the phone.

Step 3: Start with a pilot as long as you start

Like other processes or programs that are to be implemented, sometimes starting with a pilot program to determine the optimal way to do it works well. Pick a level of employees, say entry level employees, or a department that tends to be a feeder group to the rest of the organization, and implement career coaching with them. If engagement increases and customers are treated better than ever, then expand the program.

This is one program that can benefit whole company objectives: employee career objectives, customer satisfaction, and management goals.  It promotes employee engagement, brands your company as a caring employer, and ultimately treats clients well because happy productive behavior is contagious! When employees feel like they are succeeding in their careers then customers will feel the positive impact.

Companies succeed when their employees succeed.

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