Performance coaching in IT. If you want to enter the IT industry you need to know that in the majority of jobs available, you can count on two things; good employment conditions and you will never stop learning.
First of all, the employment conditions are very good (especially after a few years of hands-on experience). If you become unsatisfied with the conditions at your current employment, the job market is your oyster. You can pretty much pick and choose any offers in your sector of expertise, available on the market. The second thing you can be sure of is that you will be expected to never stop learning. New technologies are being introduced constantly and even if you are familiar with the technology today, you can expect new versions of it to appear every few months or so. Apart from technologies, in a lot of cases you will need to learn English, new automation tools and/or processes, the methodology that your team is working in, etc. Some IT Specialists are also interested in developing their soft skills as well, and all of this can be overwhelming.
The pandemic brought upon us many new e-learning materials such as ebooks, videos, podcasts, etc. So, knowledge and access to new skills are at your fingertips. In addition to that, a lot of employees have the possibility to take advantage of the company’s development budget, so improving their knowledge and skills should be easy and accessible. But knowledge and skills are not everything, there are challenges that many employees will have trouble solving during training. This is where coaching can play a significant role.Allow me to present a few examples of “use cases”.
However, before I do that, I’d like to underline two important points. One, research well and make sure the coach you hire is indeed a professional with experience and a history of success in his/her field. It might also be a good idea to find somebody who has previous experience in the IT industry, like a mentor with expertise knowledge in your field of interest (e.g. Scrum Master, Project Manager, etc.). Your future coach’s competencies are only part of the equation, I say it is equally important to connect with the specialist that you are going to pater with. Two, I want to underline that coaching is not a pep talk that will keep you going as long as a sugar rush. Professional coaching is a 1 on 1 (or group) process, designed to make clients aware of their resources (competencies, strong sides, past achievements, natural talents, etc.).
Coaching is meant to determine the right development path, and help in making sure that you don’t stop on ideas but instead — take concrete action!
These are just some of the most important elements, but they don’t even come close to defining everything that coaching is about. Professional coaching might (and should!) be transformational. The change you seek to see should be long-lasting (and should definitely last more than a few hours like in the case of a pep talk ;)).
Below are examples of situations where coaching would be a great solution.
Lack of self-confidence
We all need to have some level of self-confidence to be successful at work. You might think that you are a Developer, not a public speaker so why should this skill be relevant to you? You most likely won’t be giving Ted Talks any time soon, and it definitely wasn’t one of the requirements mentioned in your job description, but self-confidence can greatly improve your ability to communicate your point of view with the team. As a Developer, sometimes you will need to convince the team or the client to your opinion, present your point of view, and back it up with compelling evidence and facts. In a lot of cases, it won’t matter that you’re an expert in the field if you can’t voice your arguments clearly and confidently. The truth is we all sometimes experience self-doubt. Self-confidence is not something you are born with. It’s not passed down genetically. Actually, it’s a skill that you can learn and develop throughout your whole life and coaching sessions can surely help you master this skill.
Too much stress at work
We need to face the truth - stress is with us whether we like it or not. Unfortunately, it can’t be hocus pocused away. But stress isn’t always bad! We need some level of stress to be inspired and to stay motivated. Problems begin to occur when the level of stress is so high and occurs so often it becomes chronic. Poor stress management will start to cause problems such as health issues, stress can also be the reason for burnout, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, and many more undesirable consequences. I bet you want to stay effective, keep on having fun at work, keep doing what you love. Surely you want to have a life after work as well, have the energy to spend time with those close to you, enjoy your free time, practice a hobby, learn a new skill, or maybe indulge in some self-development activities? Don’t we all! If you are facing difficulties with stress management then you definitely will benefit from a professional coaching session.
The coach will help you take a look at your stressors from different perspectives, analyze and get to the bottom of why exactly you are stressing, as well as outline new behavioral patterns when a stressful situation occurs next time. I promise you, you will be surprised how “I can’t do it! This is so stressful, I will never get to where he/she is” can change into “Wow, that that was easy!” after just a few sessions. You can achieve both productivity and get rid of stress.
Too much information to process
So, you thought being promoted to a manager and having significant changes in your personal life (such as having kids) at the same time will be piece of cake? Well, in most cases it won’t be. This is only one of the many examples where you can feel overwhelmed with the amount of information that you need to process, the knowledge that you need, the facts you need to recall etc. A new position ties in with new challenges. New technologies, new clients, a new employer — you name it. In some cases, it may be too much to handle all at once. Here, we tend to either thrive to become perfectionists (I mean, who needs sleep right?) or eventually we start to disappoint everybody and start feeling like a failure.
Making improvements to protect your boundaries or your organizational skills is something that definitely will make life easier.
And you know what? Yep, you guessed it. A coach may be your “best friend” here. After just a few sessions with a qualified coach, you will have a clear picture of what you can (and want) to achieve, in what time frame, and what is simply impossible and needs to be communicated clearly to stakeholders.
Communication difficulties with clients and/or foreign language barriers
Or any other thing that’s stopping you, really. Funny thing is that we all know it’s in your mind. The only one that is stopping you, is you! We tend to be in our heads so much that we cannot seem to get out no matter what door, window or staircase we take. These barriers, hurdles, or challenges seem to be so difficult to overcome that they can make you lose your self-confidence over time, or worse — your job.
A lot of cases show that people even with expert knowledge on a topic, are simply afraid to speak up.
What a waste, right? Some “roadblocks” are so strong that you might want to consider therapy as it may be a deep-rooted issue. However, most cases just require coaching sessions to help you overcome these roadblocks quickly.
Lack of social skills/difficulties with working in a team
Did you ever felt envy thinking WHY it is so natural and easy for others to communicate and every time I speak up, I say something that makes me feel awkward and regrets opening my mouth? That is one perspective. On the other hand, could you list some skills that come to you very naturally that others struggle with it? Make sure you don’t forget about things that you are already really good at! Second of all — you can learn any social skill you want (where “want” is a keyword, from my experience only internal motivation really works). A coach will help you prepare very practical tasks that you can try and experiment with, and believe me, you will laugh at yourself for not coming up with solutions like that on your own.
The list of challenges that you can solve during, (and in-between) coaching sessions goes on and on. One of the biggest advantages of coaching, in comparison to training, is that coaching focuses on your unique set of skills, previous experiences, beliefs, goals, challenges, preferences, etc. During sessions, you will come to conclusions and come up with solutions by yourself (a coach is a guide, someone meant to inspire you, not a mentor whose footsteps you want to follow) which will additionally motivate you. Also, you will soon learn that actions that you obligated yourself to at the end of each session, were so well-tailored for you that they will start to bring results sooner than you think.