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    It’s good to talk

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    No longer exclusively an accessory for fad-devoted celebrities, a personal coach can provide vital guidance in key areas of your professional life. Nicole Holgate takes a closer look.

    Maia is a new service that provides one-to-one professional coaching to help you progress in your career. It was created by executive service Coachmatch to provide a more broad-ranging choice for anyone interested in career-oriented coaching who is not a manager or executive. Coaching, unlike training or counselling, is a way to develop skills that often makes the biggest difference to career success, such as influencing, confidence and assertiveness.

    Maia’s co-founder Ben Thomas comments: “Traditionally, coaching has been the preserve of senior managers, but Maia’s mission is to give everyone access to professional coaching support.” This comes in the form of a series of private sessions, during which a participant identifies exactly what outcome they want to achieve.

    A course generally lasts between six months and a year, with a face-to-face meeting by phone or via Skype every six to eight weeks. However it may be just a one-off session. Each one is completely confidential, allowing you to share things you wouldn’t be comfortable discussing with your boss or colleagues. Your coach will typically guide you towards a series of goals, which must be met in the time between each sitting.

    It’s not for the faint-hearted, though, or something to be entered into lightly. Ben continues: “Our coaches are not life coaches – they are experts in helping people make big changes at work. It’s about facing reality, committing to action and having someone who supports you while you do so.” 

    TRIED AND TESTED

    Becky Miles is PA to the Head of Resourcing & Talent Management at TalkTalk. When she decided to begin coaching with Maia, she first had a telephone consultation to explain what she was looking for, which in turn enabled Maia to match her to a suitable mentor. She has now had one session with a member of the team called Lisa. “I think the match they gave me was great,” she says. “She created an environment where it is okay to say anything. You’re given permission to talk all about yourself.”

    Becky was looking to evaluate aspects of her office life, and was pleased with the results of her first session. “You are pushed far beyond your normal thought process. You take what is said on board, then you go out and do something about it. It’s quite empowering,” she says. 

    Unlike counselling or a taught course, Maia’s coaching relies on building a relationship between the mentor and participant, in which the coach encourages you to reach your own solution about what step you should take next. This means that along the way you grow in confidence and get better at making the right decisions. 

    Becky’s second session won’t be for another six weeks, by which time she is expected to have implemented the actions agreed upon with Lisa. Even after one session, she is more open about talking about her problems within her workplace. 

    Becky’s company offers coaching to all employees and everyone who has taken it recommends it 100 per cent. “We all have goals and aspirations, but some of us need more help to realise them,” she says. “It’s not necessarily about progression, but how to change the way you think.”

    Programmes start at £90 per month.

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    AUTHOR

    Molly Dyson

    Former Editor – PA Life

    All stories by: Molly Dyson