Coaching Through Crisis

Coaching Through Crisis

With layoffs and economic uncertainty forcing many Americans into unplanned career changes, it’s only logical to want to cut back on expenses and save as much money as possible. But that may be a mistake, at least as far as your career is concerned, experts say, since a coach or consultant can help you navigate a tough corporate landscape and stand out from the crowd.

“We always need to have a third voice, whether it’s a mentor, a friend, or a professional,” says Dresdene Flynn-White, a business coach based in Suwanee, Georgia. “But in times when we have undue stress, whether it’s because of the economy or an unfortunate personal event, it’s even more important because stressors give us tunnel vision. We need someone to help us see the possibilities.”

Career coaching and consulting can help executives with goal setting, networking skills, and even time management. Plus, with corporate downsizing and the proliferation of new industries such as green jobs, it also can help employees zero in on new opportunities. “The way we do business is changing, so the way we approach our work is going to have to change,” says Rhoda Smackum, president of Career By Design, an executive coaching firm in Laurel, Maryland.

Coaches have set procedures to help employees think through their challenges and move forward. “The coach is going to offer a process for coming up with a plan,” Smackum says. “You may get there by yourself, but it may take you longer because you don’t have a process.”

Many studies have shown the value of career coaching. Des Moines, Iowa-based coaching strategy firm Cylient (formerly known as MetrixGlobal) found that executive coaching provided a 529% return on investment to businesses.

In its 2008 Sherpa Executive Coaching Survey, Cincinnati, Ohio-based Sherpa Coaching found that 90% of human resources professionals and coaching clients said the value of executive coaching was “very high” or “somewhat high.”

Since coaching, with costs that can run anywhere from $50 to more than $200 per hour, is not a one-size-fits-all process, it’s important to know what type of career professional best suits your needs.

Here is a guide to some of your options:

Career coaches: Consider a career coach if you’re climbing the corporate ladder. Career coaches can help employees who are on the fast track get there even sooner or they can help employees who are not proficient in certain areas of the job improve on skills. In today’s uncertain economy, a career coach could help an employee look for new job opportunities or come up with a plan to make himself or herself more valuable to a current employer. To find a career coach, visit

Business coaches: If you’re a business owner hoping to grow your company to the next level, you’ll want to hire a business coach. “You may be someone who has a business and is looking at all the gloom and doom on television,” Flynn-White says. “You’re seeing banks go under,