I guess I’ve got your attention with the headline alone…
Ok, it’s meant to be a bit misleading but I wanted to outline how to view career coaching in a similar fashion to certain other transformational approaches aimed at success. Every kind of role needs this kind of support.
Imagine that you’ve set yourself a goal to win a marathon within a year. The Hong Kong marathon, for example. Not just run it, but to win it as well. Obviously, that’s quite a challenge. So where do you start?
One way of looking at your goal is to not actually look at it as one but three goals:
- Process goals
- Performance goals
- Ultimate goals
Let’s go through each one in turn and then apply it to the principle of career coaching.
You’ve got to start somewhere. And that means having in place the right foundations. It’s about making sure that you have supportive training routines, behaviours and disciplines on a daily, weekly and monthly basis that can move you closer to your ultimate goal. This is an area that career coaching focuses on. These are part of your means goals which help you achieve your end goal.
For the marathon, it’s about scheduling and applying a running regime, adhering to a specific diet, using a personal trainer and so on. For example, your goal might be to run 3km per day, in the beginning, then 5km per day a few weeks later and so on. Will that alone get you across the finishing line in first place? Possibly but very possibly not.
It’s important to have process goals in place but you also need to know just how well you are actually doing. In other words, you need to be able to measure “success” along the way. Success in terms of process goals is very often simply about “turning up” and doing what you need to do.
But those processes alone might not be enough in themselves to win you the race. Performance goals will allow you to measure what improvements you are seeing and how race-ready you are. Career coaching by its nature is there to provide you with the checks and balances and accountability to do what you need to do.
For example, how fast can you run 10km this week compared to last? Is that marathon-winning pace? If you aren’t progressing in the way you would like, you can amend your existing processes to improve performance.
You’ve worked your process goals and you’ve hit all your performance goals. Does that mean you’ll win the race? Not necessarily. It’s certainly put you in a much better position to win than you would have if you hadn’t had a process and a way of measuring its success.
But you can’t dictate how your competition performs on the day. As prepared as you are, they may simply be faster and better than you. Your ultimate goal may have been very unrealistic, albeit you ran the fastest you ever have. Still, this is about controlling the controllable. It’s about putting yourself in the best space possible for success. Run your own race.
How can this be applied to your career?
If lavish riches in Hong Kong is your ultimate goal, career coaching can’t promise you that.
But what it can do is help you shape your process and performance goals to take you closer to your end goal. If you’re doing the right things at the right time you can certainly elevate your chances of achieving your ultimate goal.
It will make you accountable for performing on a regular basis, connecting with your colleagues and developing more focus – all important tenets of career success. It will also give you a structure.
Once you have these types of systems in place you can then measure your progress in relation to your bigger goal. It will also allow you to see whether your ultimate goal is realistically achievable. Maybe shooting for the CEO role just isn’t meant to be.
What career coaching wouldn’t have done is prevented the global financial crisis and the negative fallout on any number of roles. Stuff will still always happen.
But career coaching would have given you more awareness on how to respond. Again, it’s about controlling the controllable.