A while back I did the post "The New American Dream…A Union Job" about what I thought was the last-greatest job left in the world. Like with most things, I was wrong. My dream job is now – Life Coach! Where else can you get a job telling everyone else to do what you think they should do, without any responsibility to the end-action (well maybe besides – Wife! – Oh, I'll pay for that one tonight!). Being a Life Coach has to be the single greatest gig left on the planet. Plus, the cool thing about becoming a Life Coach is it fits perfectly into the career path of burned-out-failed HR management career. You get to sit in your home-office, facing a lake or forest or beach or some other beautiful scenery (you choose), and then schedule phone meetings with your suckersclients around late morning, early afternoon (whichever suits your personal bio-clock) and listen to their problems. Sounds almost like a psychologist, but you don't have to have the education – another bonus because you then don't have the medical accountability to actually help them.
The Wall Street Journal recently had an article "Pile On Mentors In Tough Times" in which it all but espoused not only getting mentors/coaches in your life, but get multiple coaches! Yes, that's what I need for my new career choice – mass media letting the herd know you need to use more of your income on my said chosen profession (I wonder if we are allowed by law to call this a profession? But, I digress). I have to admit that I have some previous corporate experience with Life-Coaching. In a previous regional HR role, we often were encouraged by senior HR leaders to offer Life-Coaching to high performers, who for a multitude of reasons, maybe were no longer performing at the same high level. Not a bad idea – you have a huge investment in your talent, if you can get a top performer to be top again, why not? The problem begins when top performers, who are actually still performing, see these life coaching sessions being doled-out like Oxycodone at a Rush Limbaugh Themed Halloween Party. They tend to be put off a bit. So, Jimmy screwed up his life, or is trying to "find himself" and now he's going to take up corporate "development" resources that could actually go to me!
The ironic part of my experience with Life-Coaching has been that the individuals who had the most "success" with life-coaching almost always ended up leaving the company. It stands to reason. Life-Coaching life-cycle:
1. Let's get to know each others motivations;
2. Let me as Life-Coach tell you how great it is to be me, because I'm free of corporate chains;
3. What is it that's holding you back from reaching your full potential?
4. What steps do we have to make to help you reach that potential?;
5. Did you begin sending out resumes to those non-profits we spoke about, once you get with an organization that isn't tied to profits, you'll free your aura?
6. Did you turn in your resignation?
7. We should still do sessions to ensure you reach potential, and get me a meeting with your new senior HR leader so I can share with the new organization the zen we've shared.
Being in the recruiting world, I might be a bit cynical (ok, a bit plus one), but I wonder if there is a worse phrase you could hear from a candidate than "I have a life-coach." What I really hear is "I can't take care of small things that pop up in everyday normal life, so now I have an unqualified person shaping my future." So, what you are telling me is, I should bring you (and your life-coach) on board, because you've proven that making decisions that further your career, personal future, business, and dinner plans, seem to be a bit too taxing that you need a wing-person helping you along. Really?
Let me give you a better option. "Business-Coach" – this is a current employee of your company, solid performer, established experience, ability to transfer knowledge – don't have to be in a leadership position, but should have organizational influence. Partner them with those employees who have great skills, but maybe a career derailer that might get in the way of them moving forward, or have yet to figure out organizational politics. I've seen this work very successfully from the standpoint that both have the organization's best interest in mind and are working to move a potential higher performer forward. Works well with younger professional types, who want to change the world, but haven't figured out that probably won't be happening from the middle-manager role they're moving into.
Until then, I'll be in the hammock out back waiting for my 2:30pm call with Bobby – who isn't sure he still wants to be an accountant.