How do you define success in the coaching relationship? Well, that depends on the goal and if it was achieved. Or is it more than that?
It’s ironic that as a coaching relationship starts, the focus is on the exploration, how to get to a defined goal, seeing a deeper meaning in the process and what is the vision of the outcome. However, we don’t consider if, in the end, the client considers it a success?
After working with one particular client, I realized that like beauty, success is in the eye of the beholder.
Let’s call her Miz E. She’s in her mid-30s and just gaining momentum in her career but she’s always had a lifelong ambition to be a writer. She IS a writer, but everything that she’d written to represent her in her work didn’t say – writer. So this is her journey that we took together where the outcome turned into, in her words “to be doing what it feels like I was born to do.”
Miz E was quite clear from our first conversation on the phone – she had a short-term goal to get a position as a technical writer, with a long-term one of being a freelancer of opinion and political articles, short stories and imparting her wisdom on personal development to create a portfolio. Presently she was a project manager at a very good company so this move was a bit of a dotted line. However, she was highly motivated and willing to put in the work necessary. I could hear the determination in her voice.
In three sessions she created a stronger resume, an improved cover letter and a LinkedIn profile with a summary that now told a story, instead of just the facts. For networking, she upped the engagement—going to meetups, events and lunches (and drinks of course!) with colleagues she knew could help. These all added up to a better branded position as a writer. She even began to post on LinkedIn to showcase her expertise as a professional and her writing acumen. But more important, she deepened her understanding of herself while moving her goals forward.
Then she struck gold. One strategy I encourage my clients to do is reach out in a swath e-mail to everyone you know on the planet to ask for their advice, connection or help. “Dear Friends, Family and Colleagues…” started her letter explaining what she was looking for. A response came from a colleague she worked with a number of years ago who was working at a marketing software company—they were looking for a marketing manager and the job responsibilities included writing marketing promotions and copy. A perfect step for an aspiring writer. Marketing copy is much more narrative and about storytelling, which was even closer to her goal.
The interviews with the person who would be her direct report went well. She was high on the consideration list. Then it came down to a phone interview with the CEO. At first she made two mistakes. The first was the location to talk, which turned out to have a lot of background noise. And the second was that she was sounding canned in her responses.
However, the CEO let her know he was more interested in getting to know her as a person than hearing about career accomplishments, which helped her to open up and be herself. The big break came over a question about how she felt most appreciated in a work setting. Miz E mentioned that it took reading a book called “The Five Love Languages” to help her realize that spoken words of affirmation from others made her feel most appreciated in both her work and personal life. In a moment of interview serendipity, the CEO held up the same book on the video call as it was also sitting on his desk. Bingo. What this showed was that her values were aligned with theirs.
Several weeks passed and the hiring manager stayed in touch and continued to have more questions. Ultimately the letter of offer came and she had to go through an extensive negotiation. Sadly just about all companies will start with a low offer. Their job is to get you at the lowest possible cost to their P&L and your job is to get the most. You have to meet somewhere in between. Ultimately, this is like buying a car – if you feel that you got a good deal, that is all that mattered and in the end, Miz E was satisfied with it all.
Her follow up letter to all her contacts contained her gratitude:
“I can’t recommend coaching enough for anyone who is trying to make a change or just get clarity on what they want from their career. Thank you to those who graciously offered your contacts or ideas to me and for your well-wishes. I’m excited to be doing what it feels like I was born to do.”
For Miz E, as the beholder of her success, defined it as the fulfillment of not just what she wanted to do, but what she was “meant” to do. Now that is the whole enchilada.
Centering on career and business coaching - I’m passionate about creating an honest partnership to focus on setting goals, positive outcomes and managing my client’s personal change - being an active listener and caring deeply about their success. This is brought forward through my 25 years as a successful pioneer and award winning leader in the Direct Response and Media industry when I was President of IDG List Services for 21 years. My mission is to focus on my client’s best business decisions, self and life – accomplishing transformation and change. She can be found on her website and Facebook