If you are a career coach, good times are ahead. In 2023, both organizations and individual contributors attach high importance to the topic of careers:
- 44% of HR leaders believe their organisations do not have compelling career paths. Development opportunities are equally important as improved financial compensation in retaining employees. The key is to facilitate peoples’ career reflection and create best-fit careers for everyone (Gartner, 2022).
- The Belgian federal government reports an increased demand for subsidized career coaching (VDAB, 2022).
Career coaches look to achieve meaningful positive change in their clients. So the question is, “What works and what doesn’t?”
In this blog, I want to explain how to marry an “artful” practice with “scientific” evidence. This is what is being referred to as an “evidence-based practice” (Stober, D. et al. 2006).
This comes down to three things:
- Using the best available knowledge in the field,
- Integrating it with your own expertise as a practitioner,
- And integrating it with your client’s individual situation.
Let’s take a deeper look into all three aspects:
Use the best available knowledge in the field
What is the best knowledge in the field when it comes to career coaching?
Where knowing what you want (who am I, what are my competencies and talents, what motivates me and gives me energy etc.) remains relevant, an interesting addition to the field of individual careers was done by Briscoe & Hall (2006. They have defined what it takes to get what you want. Career management attitudes can be measured and developed. Indeed, developing career management attitudes proves to be an impactful practice in career coaching (TalentLogiQs, 2022).
Another interesting addition is the research by Luthans (2006) on psychological capital. With such high numbers of burn-out, bore-out and other stress-related issues, it becomes important to understand your client’s energy levels in detail and take appropriate action. It is possible to scientifically measure self-efficacy, hope, optimism and resilience.
Evidence-based data concerning career anchors, career management attitudes and psychological capital can be a powerful mirror and conversation starter.
Integrate it with your expertise as a practitioner
The expertise needed for applying various types of evidence to practice is just as important as the availability of data and knowledge. The individual coach is a factor that is related to the outcome of career coaching. Understanding what coaches do in order to be effective in building coaching relationships, engaging in coaching conversations and achieving coaching results is important—as is explicating how they develop this expertise. Another factor is the personal experience of the coach in terms of professional background, experience in specific sectors, intellectual capacity, personal style and so on.
In case evidence-based questionnaires and reports are part of the career coaching approach, it is the coach who needs to decide on how to interpret and present the data to a particular client taking the specific situation of the client into consideration from all possible angles. This is the essence of evidence-based practice.
Integrate it with your client’s individual situation
What the client brings to the relationship has a direct bearing on whether and how career coaching will progress. Our clients’ worldviews, expectations, and values are all as central to effective career coaching as the quality of the relationship and the available evidence-based data from the client we might possess.
Seen from that angle, it is always the client who will make the final decision on what actions to take, based on the evidence-based feedback, the reflections, facilitated by the coach, that follow from the feedback, and possible identified courses of action the coach and client come up with together during the coaching.
Evidence-based practice, in conclusion
There is a firm case to be made to combine Tech with Touch – an evidence-based practice. Great results can be made when a fit-for-purpose & evidence-based tool is combined with the expertise of a great coach. That is to say, a coach who can make wise decisions on how to present the evidence and what reflection questions to ask. Someone who knows the specific situation of the client and can link it to the specific job market reality the client operates in. It is still down to the client to decide what actions to take, but again, if the coach knows how to make the client aware of what is relevant and what they consider to be a priority, chances are the client will be able to make the best possible decision for action.
At TalentLogiQs, our aim is to provide evidence-based talent- & career intelligence that helps both individual contributors and organizations towards sustainable decisions. We rely on the latest academic research and integrate it into our solutions, like the Career Fitness Profiler, made especially to facilitate career coaching.
Gartner for HR, Top 5 priorities for HR leaders in 2023.
Stober, D.R., Wildflower, L. & Drake, D. Evidence-based practice: a potential approach for effective coaching, International Journal of Evidece-based Coaching and Mentoring, Vol. 4, n°1 spring 2006.
Briscoe, J. P., Hall, D. T., & Frautschy De Muth, R. L. (2006). Protean and boundaryless careers: An empirical exploration. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 69, 30-47.
TalentLogiQs Impact study 2022, available upon request.
Luthans, F. (2006). Psychological capital development: toward a micro‐intervention, Journal of Organizational Behavior.