The Benefit of Coaching on Career Development

CoachHub · 27 July 2022 · 4 min read

Navigating the transitions in ones career development is a hallmark of many coaching conversations. What makes this so important?

Coaching has everything to do with change. Coaching can act as a change agent, playing out as support for an individual wanting to achieve change, like a career change or a strategic career development program. As individuals develop a level of dissatisfaction with their current circumstances, the truth that “what got you here won’t get you there” is revealed, and a coaching conversation is a perfect environment to explore what behavior change is required to maximize the likelihood of a successful change. Coaching is also helpful when having to deal with an unexpected change. A sudden change in circumstances can make people feel unsteady, and a coaching conversation can provide an opportunity to reflect and identify how to adapt. It’s also particularly helpful for use in advance of an anticipated change; resilience coaching before a merger or a restructure will equip the individual to respond well.

Managing career change

Change, even when it’s positive, represents loss. Take the example of a workplace promotion… One of the biggest challenges when taking on a more senior role is learning to stop doing the things that had become good habits in the previous role.

Letting go of the familiar requires vulnerability. Think about bungee jumping — there is a moment of letting go of the bridge railing and feeling the strength of the cord holding you safely. Releasing one’s hand from that security is a required step to embrace the fullness of the experience. All career development opportunities include an element of loss: loss of relationships, activities and familiar settings. Bigger than all of those perhaps, a career path transition requires an internal reframing of where one sees one’s position in the world; particularly when an individual has tied up their sense of identity and purpose in one’s role, a change to that can unexpectedly remove some significant foundational building blocks of one’s worldview.

Our tendency to want to avoid loss more than make gains increases this sensation. Research (e.g. Kőszegi, B. & Rabin, M., 2007) has even shown that the belief that a loss may occur will prevent people from engaging in something that would lead to a net gain. How much greater is that sensation when the subject associated with loss is the most significant of roles in our lives: our jobs?

It’s only natural, therefore, for transitions to introduce a sense of anxiety, even fear. The level of uncertainty around what the future might hold could be significant, especially if previously it had felt mapped out in front of them. Transition brings disruption, and that never feels nice.

coaching for career development

Becoming comfortable with disruption

The disruption inherent in transition isn’t all negative. When harnessed it can push us into a place where we are perfectly positioned to learn. Uncertainty is a sign that we don’t know something, so the courage to lean into it rather than away from it gives us the perfect opportunity to learn new things about ourselves, other people, and the way the world works.

The neuroscience backs this up. The reward system in our brain processes both pleasure and pain, and is consistently working to maintain as close to a state of equilibrium as possible, through the release of neurotransmitters to dampen emotive reactions. This can be a problem when we’re experiencing pleasure, because we’re led to immediately eat yet another piece of chocolate. But when we choose to press into an uncomfortable situation, the inverse is true; dopamine is produced, and we can enter into a flow state in which we feel happy to continue to engage, even while experiencing greater neuroplasticity thanks to the release of acetylcholine.

Coaching is perfectly designed to support this process, creating a safe space for individuals to reflect on their transition, discover their strengths, explore their values, and bring a new sense of energy, stability, and help with building resilience.

Even the most dramatic of unexpected transitions, such as a need to take on more responsibilities in the workplace while going through a divorce, offers opportunities to take dramatic steps forward. While emotions at the time might be more noticeable than during a time of extended stability, the chance to learn and grow as a person is very great.

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Bottom line

Coaching can also help to ground career changers going through a time of transition. A lot has been written about common experiences of transition, such as:

  • an immediate emotional response
  • losing confidence and feeling impacted by imposter syndrome
  • beginning to accept the change
  • ultimately becoming more hopeful and optimistic about the future and the change itself.

By elevating our awareness of these, coaching works to helps us to ground ourselves, moving into the future with confidence and a more resilient mindset and skill set that deals well with change.

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Sam Isaacson is the Global Director of Consulting at CoachHub

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CoachHub is the leading global talent development platform that enables organizations to create a personalized, measurable and scalable coaching program for the entire workforce, regardless of department and seniority level. By doing so, organizations are able to reap a multitude of benefits, including increased employee engagement, higher levels of productivity, improved job performance and increased retention. CoachHub’s global pool of coaches is comprised of over 3,500 certified business coaches in 90 countries across six continents with coaching sessions available in over 60 languages, to serve more than 500 clients. Our programs are based on advanced R&D from our Coaching Lab, led by Prof. Jonathan Passmore and our Science Council. CoachHub is backed by leading tech investors, including Sofina, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Molten Ventures, Speedinvest, HV Capital, Partech and Silicon Valley Bank/SVB Capital. In September 2021, CoachHub acquired French digital coaching pioneer MoovOne to build a global champion focused on jointly democratizing coaching. CoachHub is committed to creating a greener future and is a certified carbon neutral company since 2022.
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