I am heading into the last six months of my time as an accelerator in Atomic Object’s Accelerator program. The program provides us with an hour a week of personalized coaching to help us achieve our career goals. Here are my top tips for having productive coaching sessions.
Have an open mind.
Coaching is a time for self-improvement. It is personalized, so take advantage of that and start thinking about what skills or knowledge you want to develop. You can start talking to your coach about possible career paths or working on soft skills. You can also use this time to leverage technical knowledge your coach has acquired as a developer. I have used some of my coaching time to discuss different aspects of Rust, Rx programming, and git. You can use this time to talk about the inner workings of the company and learn about some of the company conversations that are happening. I have used my coaching time to talk about compensation, ownership, paid time off, and even changes to the company’s organization.
You should not go into a coaching session with the idea that you have it all figured out. It will lead to surface-level conversations that will not provide growth. All feedback and coaching sessions should be approached with an open mind. That’s crucial to getting the most out of your coaching sessions.
Brainstorm a few coaching topics.
A great way to develop coaching topics is by looking for where your pain points are. Bringing up your pain points to your coach will allow you both to dissect the problems you are experiencing. You and your coach can decide if the problems you are facing are simply a byproduct of a rough few days at home. Or, are the problems more complicated and nuanced relating to how the client or team dynamics are playing out? Locating your own pain points and surfacing them to a coach is a great way to have useful coaching sessions.
Another great way to develop coaching topics is by doing activities like career pathing or job crafting. A career pathing exercise will align you and your coach on your career goals. You can keep your career technical or try for another career trajectory. This exercise will align you and your coach so you can start to have sessions focused around progressing your career.
In the same vein, doing a job crafting exercise with your coach may help you to recognize and alleviate some of your pain points at work. This will lead to further coaching topics about how to change what you are responsible for at work (to an extent). It may also lead to more coaching topics in the future😉.
If you still can’t think of any coaching topics, just take a coaching session and develop topics in collaboration with your coach. They will have insight into what you need to work on, what you might want to work on, and where you want your career to go.
Coaches are people.
Leverage this. Ask your coach about how they got into the job they are in today. Odds are they have lots of advice to give you about their journey, and you can use that to help inform your high-level goals and decisions. Ask them about their previous roles and their pain points. It is possible that you and your coach have had similar interpersonal or intrapersonal pain points and your coach will be able to help you navigate those difficult situations. Use their experiences, successes, and failures to help guide your career!
Having a human coach also means that your coach doesn’t always know whats on your mind. If you need something specific, state it. I recall that at least one of my coaching sessions had a question along the lines of, “How can I help you with that?” Be clear about what you need at these times. Sometimes it’s just, “I needed to vent because that has been frustrating.” And, sometimes, it’s, “I need advice because I am unsure how to proceed.” Either way, be clear with your coach about what you need
Get the most out of a coaching experience.
These are my top tips for having productive coaching sessions as an Accelerator or anyone else who hopes to receive career coaching. I hope this helps!