How to change your line of work, successfully retrain or manage your professional development within your company? To reach their professional goals or to adapt to the business world, many people use a trendy service: professional coaching.
According to career management companies such as Penna Consultancy, one of the UK’s leading firms in this area, tens of thousands of professionals are soliciting such assistance in the UK every year, either to switch their career path or to move higher in the hierarchy of their current company.
This Superprof article will focus on the ways to become a professional coach.
Professional coaches: What Do They Do?
A professional coach, a company coach or a career development coach, is a person whose mission consists in the professional assistance of a person or a group seeking their services.
Professional life coaching is intended to accompany individuals or groups in achieving their goals, in this case, to allow them to strive towards their professional success.
Professional coaching can happen in individual sessions to train someone for a new job, to give them personal support in adapting to a new managerial policy or as a one-off session to help with some personal or professional changes.
These sessions can also be tailored for executive coaching, coaching for a senior company executive or senior official in order to manage stress or master interpersonal communication (voice, gestures, intonation) at interviews or press conferences.
Finally, professional coaching can also consist of team coaching sessions in order to optimize the growth of professional skills related to a given company or department within this company.
Professional coaching is an up and coming new profession that serves many purposes. In fact, as everyone individual needs and goals are different, professional coaching can take many form and coaches will adapt their methods and sessions according to their clients.
In-company coaching is a measure taken by a professional at a given point in their career, in order to resolve a bothersome situation - stress management, self-confidence improvement, emotion management, conflict management, non-violent communication, change coaching, etc.
Furthermore, you can ask the help of a professional coach simply to assess your current skills set and optimize key abilities for your given profession.
Professional coaching is therefor a catch-all profession, which aims to promote everyone's working environment!
Which Curriculum To Pick To Become A Professional Coach?
It is all and well, but what are the required skills to practice as a professional coach?
Not unlike the laws regulating private tuitions, there is no existing framework regulating the line of work of professional coaches. Almost everybody can practice this job and claim to be a professional coach.
However, a certain number of skills will obviously be expected by the clients.
As a rule, coaches embellish their CVs with all the training programs they followed: coaching, systemic approach, transactional analysis, NLP training (neuro-linguistic programming), etc.
It is fundamental to know the professional environment that you are targeting and the type of clients you will be addressing (the company, its environment. its work culture, its problems and issues), so it is necessary that your CV shows a relevant training in line with the services you will be offering.
Some prestigious schools of great renown make it possible to train to become a professional coach.
The British School of Coaching (BSC) are market leaders in offering Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) accredited courses for coaches, mentors and trainers. They offer a range of courses to suit every level of experience in coaching and mentoring.
Whether you are an executive HR manager, a self-employed adviser looking to certify your practice or simply a parent wondering how to best guide your child, they offer ILM accredited courses in coaching and mentoring to befit every stage in your career
Warwick University and its Lifelong Learning Center also offer a Career Development and Coaching Studies program.
They draw on a wide range of expertise across their professional networks and the University to teach this programme. It is designed to help you provide creative and effective career support. The programme is informed by a range of international and national benchmarks and distinguished by a distinctive focus on the integration of theory and practical experience.
In total in the UK, there are about 40 different Masters degrees you could get in order to qualify as a professional coach.
It is also recommended that coaches receive regular training to specialize and/or update on current professional practices.
The certification process can, therefore, be relatively lengthy, even if there is not really a specific diploma or accreditation recognised by the government that would make you a certified professional coach.
It is also recommended to choose a school that has been certified by a federation or association.
And yes, even if you receive a degree from one of these Universities, you must nevertheless prove that you have followed a certain number of hours of training, to prove your experience as a coach and that you are competent to review and analyse professional practices and unique client cases.
More than half of the professional coaches graduated from a business, management or engineering school. In addition, these service providers are specialists in human resource management and often work within a company's department.
Professional coaches are usually graduates in social sciences, human sciences, psychology or neuroscience, have a master's degree or doctorate: profiles are very different.
The Specific Skills Required To Be A Professional Coach
In addition to degrees and all the training necessary to become a professional coach, you also need to possess a certain number of coaching tools.
According to the accreditation process of the ICF - the International Coach Federation - a number of skills are required or will need to be learned:
- Possessing ethics,
- Being able to establish trust relationships,
- Possessing a self-questioning thought process,
- Developing your self-awareness,
- Performing consistent tasks,
- Monitoring and evaluating signs of progress.
It is also necessary to have a sufficient level of mental and emotional maturity to exercise this profession: it is easy to understand that an impulsive person or someone that gets overwhelmed by the emotions, lack assertiveness or fail to manage their stress, can not claim to teach how to handle difficult situations.
Often, professional coaches practice as self-employed consultants: besides practising the profession, they must also know how to find clients, manage their finance and tax reporting.
In addition, a coach's skills depend heavily on his area of experience(small business, massive conglomerate, start-up, large group, NGO, or public administration) and their target audience (manager, executive, team management, individual).
The job of coach implies a good level of self-awareness, in order to clearly identify the personality traits of their customers.
Professional coaching aims to better integrate a person in a trade or a function. As such, it aims to find how to achieve that person's goals to increase performance.
This requires putting coaching in an ethical framework, listening actively to the client and being empathetic to better understand them.
A good coach must follow the way companies operate, i.e. understand the company's culture and strategies, understand the nature of the market concerned (competition, products, services, customers) and the structure of the market.
Knowing leadership management (a process by which a person influences a group of people to achieve a common goal) is a guarantee of professionalism: this type of leadership is essential to create a business, develop interpersonal communication, collaborate with other coaches and develop entrepreneurial capabilities.
Another key skill: mutual respect. It is important to know how to adapt your approach depending on the ethnic and cultural differences that may exist, that is to say never to judge your interlocutor or discriminate according to their ethnic or social origin.
It is also necessary to know how to position yourself as an expert, to convert your prospects into clients, to mobilize commercial resources: in other words, to know how to sell yourself.
What Is It Like To Be A Professional Coach?
Faced with the multiple challenges of working life, it is sometimes difficult to take a step back and manage stress appropriately. This is one of the main roles of a professional coach: to support, guide, accompany and ensure the well-being of all the people they oversee.
Beware, coaching professionally does not mean to be interested in the psychosociological causes that led to depressions or burnouts, but to place you and your client in the perspective of their career development.
One might think that an executive coach and senior company executive have amazing perks and very comfortable incomes.
This could not be further from the truth as you should know that most professional coaches practice on a part-time basis and often have another full-time job.
Let's put it out there, there are very few professional coaches that can live entirely of their practice: the vast majority of them work as self-employed.
In addition, it takes an average of at least three years of practice to establish a network of contacts and obtain a stable and regular clientele and the income that goes with it. This means that some put up to 5 years before being able to live off their professional coaching career.
When it comes to earnings, your paycheck will only be as good as your skills and competence. Working on a per session basis, most coaches charge £120 and up for a one-to-one hour-long session or somewhere around £350 per day of work if hired by a company.
Not unlike private tutors, the rate a professional can and will charge will depend on their experience, network and demand.