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Why Professional Coaching in a Slowing Economy?


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The recent end of the second quarter brought with it the release of corporate earning reports. As expected, we saw many of the same adjectives: “down, " “less-than-expected, " and “declining. " One SVP in real estate told me this week that the first round of budget cuts “hurt" and the next round would, “hurt really badly. "

No doubt the news of a slowing economy has affected your business. Yet, I don't feel like it is keeping clients away from considering professional coaching resources and leadership development programs. Despite dwindling training budgets, many people are seeing the need to spend money on their employees now to ensure they stick with them through the tough times. Keeping your prized talent is more important now than ever. Your employees who are trained, efficient in their jobs, and have great relationships with your clients are one of your most important assets right now. These employees keep your sales steady, your customers happy, and your profits from slipping too badly.

However, even if they are happy, they are not yours forever. According to comScore Media Metric, one third of these trusted assets are visiting job search websites like Monster and Career Builder every month. I hear from recruiters that many more candidates are open to hearing about new opportunities, even if they love their jobs.

The good people will always be in demand; however, you can take action to try to keep them. Many of the top reasons people cite for leaving a job can be addressed through a professional coaching resource. Professional coaching resources can provide a confidential forum for them to set their goals and get a sounding board for ideas. Plus, they can vent about their frustrations with respect to these common issues:

Boredom/lack of challenge. After an employee is trained and comfortable in a position, there's often not a clear path to what is next. The result is that the employee masters their position, becomes bored, and you miss out on what else they have to offer. Career path coaching for this employee could help him or her see ways to keep the passion for the job alive, find new areas and projects of interest, and bring forth his or her best talents for the company to utilize.

Feeling overwhelmed. Workers are often given task after task with high priority attached to all of them, yet few resources to manage the projects. An overwhelmed employee works under stress and frustration, which makes him or her less productive, resulting in a good chance of burnout. A professional coach who specializes in organization and project management can help this employee identify what truly is important and gain confidence in communicating with supervisors who are assigning tasks. Often the root of feeling overwhelmed is an employee's reluctance to say “no" and feeling the need to please all parties; professional coaching can uncover these underlying reasons and address them, giving the employees the tools to set boundaries and find ways to work more confidently, calmly and thus efficiently.

Having meaningful work. Gen X and Gen Y employees especially are looking for work that means something to them personally; and many talk about some day leaving to fulfill higher aspirations. Meaning can be found in unexpected places through the help of a professional coach. Values-clarification coaching can help a person uncover what is truly important to him or her and find ways to fulfillment that do not have to mean a change in career.

An investment banker might be considering leaving the company to open his or her own community theater in a low-income neighborhood. Business Coaching might uncover important values such as working in collaboration, bringing his or her fortunes to the less fortunate, and feeding creativity. A professional coach could also help him or her see alternatives to leaving: staying in the job and using a portion of their salary to establish a theater scholarship, finding ways in the position to work more collaboratively with teams, mentoring a new recruit at the company, or leading a project to set up role-playing exercises for team-building.

If the theater is really what she wants to do, professional coaching could empower the employee to have a discussion with his or her supervisor about setting up a community outreach program to establish the theater. At the very least, she could find more time to pursue her theater dreams outside of work and find that fulfillment while also contributing to the job. This employee could find that fulfillment in his or her work, add value to his or her current position, and give the company more than they were ever getting before the positive effects of professional coaching took hold.

Relationship with supervisor/manager. The experience of employees is largely dictated by whom they report to daily. I've had jobs in my own career where my satisfaction has gone from a 10 to a 2 with the change of a manager and I've left the company. With many people, this dissatisfaction stems from expectations not being met. If Tom managed a certain way and Bob comes along with a different style, the employee often gets ruffled, longs for the old days, and becomes increasingly disgruntled. Professional coaching can help this employee transition to the new systems, explore expectations of the old way coming back, and find the advantages the new manager brings.

Simply having a safe place for employees to vent their frustrations with the boss is advantageous to the employer. This keeps employees from poisoning the pool through negative water cooler conversations with peers. They will undoubtedly vent to somebody for sure and you want it to be somebody who can help shift perspective or simply listen, not a peer who perhaps will walk away realizing all the things that “suck" about the job.

Uncertainty is rampant in today's business environment. Companies need to make the most of what they have. Professional coaching can be an effective, lasting solution and one that is cost efficient as well. Ongoing business coaching usually costs less than 10% of the employee's annual salary. Compare this to 25% of annual compensation, which is the bare minimum estimate of replacing a full-time private-sector worker, according to the Employment Policy Foundation. If you have talent on your staff, no doubt somebody else knows about them and could be trying to hire them away. Take action to keep them on board, motivated, and satisfied in their jobs. Now more than ever, you can't afford to lose them.

Learn more about professional coaching resources.

Jeanne Schad, founder of Internal Relations Professional Coaching Resource, is an expert in the areas of business coaching, professional coaching resources, and leadership development.

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