Last Friday, I had the final meeting with my "coach". A somewhat sad day for me - like the last day of a college class you really enjoy or finishing a good book. I enjoyed and benefitted from the coaching experience.
Prior to my return Asia, it was suggested that a "coach" could help me speed up re-entry to life in the US organization. Upon my return to the US late last year, I was asked (again) if I was interested working with a coach. "Sounds like a good idea" was my response. Honestly, I was more curious about the whole "coaching" phenomena. I wanted to know what a coach actually does and if, for example, they gave you homework.
Before I left the US in early 2000, it seemed only those destined for the top management suite or those likely to be shown the door due to behavioral issues had coaches. In short, coaching seemed either for accelerated mentoring or "anger management".
The coaching "industry" seemed to have gone mainstream while I was in Asia - like drinking bottled water or doing ergonomic evaluations of every employee's "work environment". Another of the many changes I have noticed since coming back.
Like everything else in this blog, what I say about coaching is "generalizing from a small sample" - my experience and my opinion.
As far as the value for money of coaching - it is hard to say. I never checked on the cost - my feeling is that my coach was relatively pricy especially based on the fact there is a large organizational umbrella (read company that needs to make a profit and pay overhead) in between my coach and my employer. Many coaches can be reached directly via their website but large company's tend to use a service to arrange coaching. Just as sure as I am that I benefitted from the time with my coach (a couple hours each week when I was in the country); I am also sure that I would never have been willing to pay out of my own pocket for coaching. A more likely secenario is that I would have read a couple of books by coaches and/or discussed my repatriations issues with a fellow ex-pat in an airport lounge or on a long haul flight. I might have just pored out my soul to Yuki - our loyal dog and gotten feedback via how bored she looked while I talked. I say none of this to denigrate the value of coaching. I had the good fotune to work with an excellent coach but given the nature of the industry - I think I was lucky. In general, coching is more laissez faire than "financial planning".
Once it was decided that I would have a coach, I was given several candidates to consider - I selected two from the group to meet over lunch and then picked one.
My coach did a great job of helping me sort out how I felt about returning and whether it made more sense for me to focus on success in my current position or perhaps ultimately deciding that I was better off finding a new opportunity where the skills I developed in Japan and China would be better utlized and appreciated. It was a socratic process to get me to come to up with future plan on a step by step basis. I wasn' told what or how to think but I was supported through a process that enabled me to select my own "end game".
In any case, the formal process has come to an end. I am thankful for the opportunity to work with someone who was skillful at getting me to work through my issues.