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Working With a Career Coach

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Acacia tutor and academic head, Dr. Kay Maddox-Daines discusses her coaching style for supporting mid-career decisions. 

My work as an executive and leadership career coach stems from a background in organisational and employee development. Much of my work has involved the design and delivery of management and leadership courses where coaching forms an integral part of interpreting and reflecting upon career choice, positioning and advancement. As a result of the development process, coachees start to consider their options.

In my experience the choices considered fall into the following areas:

  • Looking to use existing skills in a new organisation.
  • Wish to embed skills in a promotion within current organisation.
  • Already part of a defined succession plan and seeking to maximise success within this programme.
  • Exploring different patterns of working in support of work/life balance.
  • Seeking to remain in current position and maximise success in this role.

Working with Clients

I work largely with organisations where my role supports a leadership and management programme for middle and senior leaders or as part of an outplacement service. I also work with individuals seeking to change career, get a promotion or return to work. The common factor across all coachees is that they have some work experience and are in a process of transition.

Contracting Stage

Your initial meeting is largely focused on contracting with the coachee. A contract may also have been agreed with the organisation sponsoring the process. During the meeting I clarify my role as coach and what I am/am not able to do within the role. The contracting stage is very much focussed on encouraging coachees to consider:

  1. What do you want to achieve?
  2. How will you know when you have achieved that?
  3. What are you prepared to do to meet your goals?
  4. Your expectations of me/others?
  5. What might get in the way?
  6. How will you reward yourself?

Following the first session each coachee is sent a contract that clarifies objectives agreed and the number of sessions. I advise clients of the professional ethics and boundaries that I am bound by through my membership of the Career Development Institute (CDI) and Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and supply them with copies of each.

The career coaching model I use is built on the following principles as outlined by Jenny Rogers (2008):

  • The client has the answers
  • The coach’s role is to uncover the resources, answers and capabilities that the client has within
  • Coaching addresses the whole person
  • The client leads each session
  • Coach and client are equals
  • Coaching is about change, and everyone can change

Coaching takes place within the framework of OSCAR, a model developed by Andrew Gilbert and Karen Whittleworth (2002) which builds on the highly effectively GROW model (Whitmore, 2002).


Outcome – What is the desired outcome sought?
Situation – What is the current situation?
Choices and Consequences – Generate choices and consider what are the consequences of that choice?
Action – What actions will you take? When? On a scale of 1-10 how willing are you to take that action(s)?
Review – Are the actions being taken? Are the actions moving you towards the outcome?

career coaching

Mid-career transitions

The clients I support are quite often undertaking a period of transition and are often experiencing a degree of inner upheaval and conflict.
Some clients arrive with clear goals set and request help with the implementation of their career plans. Others are looking for assistance with navigating change and are yet to define clear goals.
Quite often clients recognise the need for a change but are unable to articulate what this looks like.

Coaching Tools and Techniques

I use a range of tools and techniques to tease out alignment of work and life values and to explore the rationale and context for the transitional work. Some of my favourites include:

  • The top ten values you live by
  • Psychometric testing
  • Writing own obituary
  • ‘When I grow up what do I want to be?’
  • SWOT analysis
  • The wheel of work


Gilbert, A. and Whittleworth, K. (2002) The OSCAR Coaching Model: Simplifying Workplace Coaching. Monmouth, Monmouthshire: Worth Consulting Ltd.
Rogers, J. (2008) Coaching Skills, A Handbook. 2nd ed. Maidenhead, Berkshire: Open University Press.
Whitmore, J. (2002) Coaching for Performance: Growing People, Performance and Purpose. London: Nicholas Brealey.

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