“Coaching” Yourself for (the Next) Promotion

There are many types of coaching opportunities available to assist people in both their work and personal lives. To name of few, there is conflict coaching, life/personal coaching, performance coaching, transitional coaching, and developmental coaching. Each of these coaching models is designed to help people with a specific issue or goal for improvement (e.g., interpersonal conflict, job promotion, and early success in a new job).

Developmental coaching is a coaching method typically used for individuals identified as high potential performers or leaders who want to develop a plan for promotion. The coaching process serves to facilitate the person’s preparation for future job promotion or career succession. The process of developmental coaching provides an opportunity to appraise where the person is in their current job and to assess the knowledge gaps and potential challenges to be addressed in achieving a successful advancement. A developmental coach will encourage the person to identify particular areas of strength and challenges in their current job. For example, if a faculty member desires to be a department chair in the future, or an associate director/associate dean wants to eventually move to a director/dean position, what are the skills and experiences needed to be successful in the next job? What are the person’s greatest leadership strengths and what will be their greatest growth challenges? The coach will assist in examining the requisite skills and challenges characterizing the future job opportunity and contrast those with the present job situation.

The coach helps identify concerns about the perceived and actual challenges and obstacles to being successful in the future position. Also, the coach will help identify 2 – 3 key objectives for improvement, facilitate the development of an action plan to address the key objectives, and determine agreed upon success measures. Frequently, activities within these plans are created so the person has an opportunity to practice in real situations in the workplace to further develop and improve the identified skill sets. The coach will meet periodically with the person to follow-up and provide feedback on their progress in meeting the goals, and to revise or create new activities as needed to successfully achieve the developmental goals.

In the developmental coaching process it is helpful if there is a supervisor or mentor supportive of the targeted promotion and that is willing to participate in identifying areas for improvement and development. Also, it is helpful to get additional objective perspectives from colleagues and other key stakeholders about the person’s strengths and weaknesses (or areas in need of improvement).

Regardless if you choose to use a coach, nothing prevents you from using techniques from a coaching model to help yourself.