The concept of a “life coach” isn’t new, but it may be somewhat foreign to young CPAs who think it’s too soon in their career to hire one. Without realizing it, now may be the very best time to get the kind of advice you can use to improve your career prospects and long-term strategy.
According to the International Coach Federation, coaches help “individuals and organizations improve their performances and achieve extraordinary results.” Coaches work with clients in many areas, including business, career, and relationships. Hiring a professional coach can help you set goals, make fully-informed decisions, and better understand your personal strengths.
When Should You Hire a Coach?
Just like the little league coach, professional and personal coaches want you to win. They are on your side and provide strategic “plays” that may be hard to see while you’re in the middle of it all. In other words, coaches provide perspective on what is happening in your life, and with your skills and experiences. Coaches also can help you brainstorm a plan to achieve your goals and – with your permission – hold you accountable.
Individuals turn to coaches for a variety of reasons. Perhaps many start with a personal coach because they were passed over for a promotion and want an objective viewpoint to figure out why. People also hire a coach after a major transition—the loss of a job, an illness or death in the family, or the birth of a child—because they have questions and need some direction.
Coaches help their clients work through a number of areas. Many career coaches also work with CPAs to help them create goals, answer questions, and realize their goals. For example, because some CPAs want to stay in public accounting, but want a better work/life balance, a coach will help their clients develop a pitch as to why they should be promoted or map out a plan for the first five to seven years of his career. Coaches also help come up with flexible work proposals to present to their firms.
How to Choose a Coach
Some coaches go through formal training programs while others just hang out a shingle.
One of the best ways to find a coach is ask friends and colleagues for a referral to an individual who understands your needs and the pressures of the accounting industry.
Most coaches offer free 30-60 minute consultations to ensure there is rapport. Part of the initial discussion with a coach should include clarifying the goals you want to achieve.
Ask the following questions when interviewing a coach:
- What is your background? Do you have experience working with CPAs in practice or business and industry?
- What is your coaching specialty?
- What is your specific process for coaching: how sessions are conducted, do you do any diagnostic testing, and how often do you recommend we meet?
- How many sessions do you think I’ll need to achieve my goals?
The answers will give you a good sense as to whether the coach is a good fit for you, but ensure you also like the person. Gut instincts are extremely important when working with someone one on one.
Is Coaching Right for You?
From CEOs to stay-at-home moms, having a coach makes sense, but you have to be ready; to benefit the most from coaching, you need to be able to collaborate on a very personal level and accept the perspectives of others. You need to have some sense of what you’d like to accomplish and you need to ensure you are going to invest the time to accomplish the goals established with your coach.
The next time you face a difficult decision or need some guidance, think about what your path would have been like if you had a coach to help. Hindsight is 20-20, of course, so perhaps now is the best time to hire a coach. Put yourself in the game!