Ask the Experts

Life Lesson

My company is sponsoring a lecture series from life coaches, aimed at young employees. Should I spend the time to attend this? 

We are receiving this question often, as life coaching becomes more popular and successful.  According to the International Coaching Federation, over 40 percent of people using professional coaches believe it enhanced their work/life balance. The right program can help you identify areas for growth in personal leadership, self-confidence and self-care. But what you learn is only as good as your teacher.

The list of benefits from personal coaching is a long one and includes enhanced decision making skills, fresh perspectives on personal challenges, and increased confidence. You will also see an improvement in productivity, which is why companies are eager to send their staff to these courses.

Many new employees go through stages of feeling stuck, needing a new approach, and wanting more purpose. Life coaches can make a difference and initiate significant changes in your life that will be beneficial both in and out of the workplace. They are highly trained at seeing when you are not being truthful to yourself and limiting your own abilities. A good coach can push you to your limits to help you achieve what you want out of life, while recognizing when you may not be firing on all cylinders.

Besides a productivity boost, life coaching can also help you build interpersonal relationships, communication skills and improve your work/life balance. Around 86 percent of companies stay that they saw a return on investment when sending workers to coaching sessions, some as much as 300 percent. Nearly all participants and companies say that they have been satisfied with the results of life coaching, according to the International Coach Federation.

One drawback is the lack of regulation in the industry, not all coaches are professional and many have not been trained properly. The quality of coaches may vary dramatically as a result, so it is best to seek one with a good background and experience, and accreditation from the ICF. Fortunately, company-sponsored coaches are typically hired because of past successes and experience. A professional life coach will not tell you what to do or advise you, their job is to identify your options and hold you accountable for your own challenges.

Studies have shown that corporate use of coaching services is on the rise. It has become one of the fastest growing professions in America. A 2012 study reported that there were around 15,000 professional life coaches operating in the U.S. earning around $700 million. Surveys of Fortune 500 executives revealed that coaching resulted in a return on investment of almost six times the cost of the program. In addition to this was a 77 percent improvement on relationships, 67 percent increase in teamwork, 61 percent boost in job satisfaction, and 48 percent quality improvement.

Personal development and improvement is only attained through feedback and the best source is an expert in the field, who sees the best in people and helps them achieve it. The results are proof that professional life coaching can be of great benefit to both the individual and the organization, so in answer to your question it will be time well spent.

There cannot be a stressful crisis next week. My schedule is already full… Henry Kissinger.

Suzanne Hite is a former publications editor serving the technology services sector.