Written by Mission Next Consulting
In a previous blog, we discussed the value of professional coaching for former service members who are making the transition into the civilian workforce. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) explained the benefits, “Through the process of coaching, clients deepen their learning, improve their performance, and enhance their quality of life.” After reading about the value of coaching, you may be left with the question of how to select a coach that’s right for you. This article will help you learn where to start your search and how to evaluate coaches.
The coaching industry is unregulated so pretty much anyone can claim to be a coach. Be prepared to do some homework before choosing your coach. You can start by doing various online searches for coaches in your area, or coaches with military transition specialties. Check out LinkedIn too. Ultimately, the best way to find a professional coach is through word of mouth and referrals from friends, colleagues, or transition assistance programs.
The next section gives you some questions that you can ask to evaluate whether or not a particular coach is right for you. Be prepared to discuss the process and fees as you are looking for options. Keep in mind that it’s a major red flag if a professional coach asks for a large upfront fee. Most fee arrangements have a structure where you pay for the coach’s time by the hour.
Avoiding pre-payment of lump-sum fees ensures that you aren’t locked into a long-term relationship that isn’t meeting your needs and will protect you from inexperienced or unethical practitioners.
It's critically important that you and your coach have a good personal fit. There needs to be trust between the two of you, and you need to feel comfortable so you can be honest during the sessions. Here are some good questions that you can ask to evaluate if the coach is going to be a good match for your specific needs:
Most coaches offer free sample sessions, which will give help you determine the type of coach and coaching style that works best for you. For example, you may want a coach who incorporates specialty techniques like meditation. You may also want to ponder whether or not you would benefit from a coach with prior military service or if you’d prefer to have a more external perspective. Consider trying sample sessions with more than one coach to find the right one for you.
To make the coaching relationship successful, you need to show up to your coaching sessions prepared and most importantly, to commit to doing what you say you’re going to do. To maintain this commitment, you need to understand your motivations for seeking coaching support. Imagine how ineffective your coaching experience will be if you were just there to please your spouse or parents. There will definitely be times in coaching where you feel stuck or get frustrated. While it may be tempting to just quit when this happens, your resolve to push forward will help you stay with the process at the very moment you need it most.
Your commitment to the process extends to the amount of time you are willing to set aside for coaching sessions – and the work that needs to be done in between sessions. It’s easy to make your coaching sessions into appointments that you just delay or put off. The problem with not maintaining a regular schedule is that it undercuts one of the essential ingredients for effective coaching – time for the process to work. Your transition to the civilian workforce is one of the most significant changes you will likely experience so don’t cut corners while trying to engage in meaningful coaching sessions.
Keep in mind that many of the issues that you discover during the coaching process will also be playing out in your personal life. You may want to talk to your coach about when and how to bring those personal issues to the sessions. Keep in mind that coaching is designed to help you transition to the civilian workplace, but it is not a replacement for professional mental health support. If you start having trouble coping with this transition, your coach may refer you to a therapist to address some of the deeper issues impacting your life.
Published: May 27, 2022
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I was excited to participate in the research that led to the Mission Next book because it reminded me how this needed to be a priority for our organization.
Chief Human Resources Officer
Community healthcare organization
I learned that you can't walk around with your rank in your back pocket, so I had to quickly adapt in the new civilian environment. Any preparation work you can do before you make the transition is worth your time.
Retired U.S. Army officer
University veterans’ liaison
From the very beginning, I spent time working on my interpersonal communication skills. I de-militarized my speech and stopped using all the jargon. Since then, I’ve helped many veterans make that transition...
Retired U.S. Army officer
Human Resources Director, manufacturing company
I got an early copy of the Mission Next book to preview. I wish I would’ve had the book prior to my transition because I had to figure out so many of the points from the book on my own.
Former U.S. Navy officer
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