A Coaching Model By Lucy Todd, Career Transition, UNITED STATES
The Career Offsite: “The Idea of the Personal Offsite”
As a career transition coach, I believe a blended model will commonly best serve my clients. That’s because while awareness and growth through pure coaching are foundational, successful career analysis, discovery, and transition may not be successful without resources, tools, and strategies.
But I know I need to successfully balance the two to be the best resource for my clients.
Too heavy on the advice or mentoring piece – “I get an art teacher vibe from you – try that!” – may discount what the client knows to be true about themselves. While that type of advice usually comes from a place of wanting to be helpful, in a coaching setting it feels more dismissive than anything.
On the other hand, “You seem to light up when you talk about creative tasks at work. What do you think?” comes from the client’s own words, feelings, and reactions. It’s an approach that is interactive and inspires deeper exploration.
The Career Offsite Model
So The Career Offsite Model first relies on pure coaching methods to create a safe and comfortable environment for clients to talk about themselves and their career challenges. Next, I invite them to dive deeply into what they know to be true about themselves through a blended exploratory approach. And finally, we work together to uncover the results of that exploration and generate the next steps that the client is truly invested in.
This actually begins before my first session with a client. It’s my own story and my explanation of how my career transition coaching can provide value to clients.
For this type of client, it may be important that the coach has “been there” — that they have gone through what the client is going through, experienced some of the same thoughts and feelings, and found a career where they thrive.
Without this, it may be difficult for the client to trust that the coach can really understand their situation and help them move through it. And in turn, without that trust, it’s difficult for me as a coach to dig deeper and help the client gain valuable awareness.
In that case, all the career quizzes, pamphlets, and recommendations I could give would still ring hollow. They’d be based on what the client is comfortable saying, instead of their full truth.
Identify The Client’s Current Career State
This can look very different depending on whether the client is just beginning to consider a career change, ready to drop their two weeks’ notice tomorrow without a backup plan, or anywhere in between.
It might mean spending 20 minutes getting a rundown that the client is already certain of. Or, it might be spending a full session or more unpacking what’s got them feeling stuck or in need of change.
However, it manifests, getting the client to fully understand where they are in this journey and what they want next is foundational. Without understanding the current state, there’s little chance of identifying a solution and crafting a pathway that the client feels genuinely aligned with.
After determining the broad state of the client’s career reality and who they are/how they show up in that reality, we’re ready to go deeper.
Career Offsite: Self-Guided or Coach-Facilitated Exploration
My next recommended step is known as a “career offsite,” adapted from the concept of the personal offsite.
Author and founder Greg McKeown is credited with the idea of the personal offsite, and it’s described in his 2014 book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Greg is cited as defining the personal offsite this way:
Every three months you take three hours to identify the three things you want to accomplish over the next three months.
I believe these offsites can happen independently (outside of a session) or be coach-facilitated — depending entirely on the client’s preference and working styles. And in my experience, the frequency, duration, number of goals, and time period for those goals can be modified.
Lastly, for the purposes of my coaching model, I’ve expanded the definition to focus on self-discovery. Goal-setting is a secondary outcome that may happen outside the offsite.
That’s because goal-setting is a built-in component of the coaching relationship. If it doesn’t happen organically within the client’s personal offsite, we have other opportunities to get there. The key is that without ample self-discovery and awareness, a client may not be able to identify the right goals and next steps: ones that are truly authentic to them.
I first heard of the concept of a personal offsite from my own former coach, Keith Upkes. It’s the tool he suggested to get me out of my own “stuck” mindset related to my career. That’s how I know it works — because I’m living proof!
Resources and Next Steps
Each personal offsite is unique, so the next part of the process is unique, too.
Some clients will naturally develop goals and next steps during their offsite. Others will prefer time to process and internalize the awareness and growth gained from their offsite before developing goals, action items, and next steps. We work together to determine which format works best for them.
As in Step 3, blended coaching comes into play here, too. But it’s critical to draw the line between a coach providing resources and a coach taking ownership of client results. That’s where Step 5 comes in.
Action and Accountability
Just as it’s up to the client to come to each session prepared with a topic, it’s also up to them to put their action plans from each session into place.
The best part about this stage? The amount of self-discovery that’s typically happened by this point creates natural energy and momentum! Hopefully, they can now see a career future that doesn’t bore or terrify them.
I’m excited to share the Career Offsite model with my clients!
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