Tag Archives: Coaching

Fear is the biggest showstopper in your life and mine. A colleague asked me last week how I managed to quit my (well-paid) full-time job to start my own business.
“Are you courageous or were you afraid too?”
I told her that I was really scared. I had almost pulled out of my decision to leave my former employer when my manager gave me a book called “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.
I had a few tough moments over the last four years, the lowest point was probably last year when I supported a group and had to clean the bathrooms and bins and accidentally threw away my friend’s house-keys in a effort to clean up. She rummaged through the garbage and needless to say was not happy with me.

But in all those years whenever I confronted my fear and worked through my insecurities (usually with the support of my mentor or my coach) my business made a leap. You don’t have to be as crazy as me and jump ship. Leaving a job and all security behind especially when you depend on your income to support you is kind of insane. For me it was the right decision at the time and the way to go. Today, I take a more relaxed approach to my business as I have a part-time role and I grow my business on the side. It is a matter of choice in this country.

Having a choice is having power. Having a choice means that you are in the driver seat. Having a choice means that you may not be in the mental prison you feel stuck in. If you wish to understand more about fear you might want to read my older posts on this matter: Conquer your fears little Jedi and your wishes will be granted.

Kind regards
Angie

PS: If you are looking for a shortcut you can set up a meeting with me. Watch out for #Decemberdeal on Social Media. Like, RT and Share our hashtag #Decemberdeal and get a discount on our packages for 2017.

Every time a coaching relationship ends I have a hard time to let the client go. When you learn to be a coach you also learn methods for your psychological hygiene. What you don’t really learn in my view is how to let go and accept that the client will take the next steps without you.

Every coach has to let go...
Every coach has to let go…
We do not yet know enough about the real impact of the coach on the coaching relationship and the success of our clients. It would be arrogant to assume that I am having a big influence on my client’s development. My clients are highly intelligent professionals. They are thrown into circumstances where a little bit of guidance makes their efforts worthwhile. Whether they succeed at finding a job they love or at improving their satisfaction during a merger is entirely up to them.
When I say that I have a hard time to let my clients go, it is not because I feel they still need me. It’s more because I still need them. Every client brings in a special energy and challenge. Once we are performing as a team I really start to like my clients and I sometimes even want to be their friend. I know that as a professional I need to keep a certain distance and it is better not to expand the relationship for too long but having an ongoing relationship with a client is comforting. It’s a regular income too.
If you also have a hard time letting go here are five rituals for ending a coaching relationship you can work into your practice.

Ritual 1: Limit the number of sessions to a logical number such as nine.

In my experience, every transition takes around nine sessions if you follow short-term coaching approaches and believe in only selling as much as needed. It is obviously different if your sessions contain advisory elements or are built around advising clients or providing a regular service to them. I am talking about classical executive coaching according to the definitions by the International Coach Federation.

Ritual 2: Call the final session “final session”

As you know in coaching we construct and while we construct in the world of the client, we also drive the cycle of the coaching and cycles between the sessions. We should formalize beginning and end. Many of my clients even bring a small present to the last session. I never expect it and I am always a bit embarrassed but it is a great way to bade farewell.

Ritual 3: Run a debriefing in the final session.

In the final session, I always like to look back at the target achievement and at the whole process. What did the client go through, where were the major changes in the process and how do they feel about themselves now.

Ritual 4: Agree how you will keep in touch.

As a coach, public speaker, lecturer, author and business owner you are probably as busy as me. So you understand that it will be hard to “keep in touch” with all of your clients. What I ask my clients is whether they would like to stay on the mailing list for weekly updates and I tell them to let me know if they want to have lunch or a coffee. I also offer that they can send me weekly progress reports. I am proud to say that some of my clients contact me a year later to tell me that an exciting breakthrough occurred or that they remembered something I told them or that they just understood something better that I had tried to explain to them earlier. I always love those emails and cherish them.

Ritual 5: Wish the client well

After we finish the conversation about keeping in touch I tell my client why I like them and wish them well. That is the most emotional moment of the journey. Don’t forget to take notes in between when there was a moment that moved you in a special way. Then the coaching relationship is over. I tell my clients that I keep their documentation for five years in case they ever return. After five years I delete their documentation.

When you are an intercultural coach you have certainly come across an issue with having clients from cultures where high power distance is the cultural norm. Assuming you are coming from a culture with lower power distance such as Switzerland and your client used to live in the Middle East most of her life, it could be that expectations and understanding of coaching are entirely opposite.

Capture

Since the Swiss tend to value modesty and often understate their credentials you could be perceived as either lacking depth, experience or academic stringency. Your client might also expect you as the expert to be rather directive and with the cultural assumptions behind how to get a job in the Middle East expect you to establish the necessary connections and introductions for them. The client might expect you to serve them their new career step, international assignment or local job on a silver plate.
As we know in the current market situation in Switzerland and with the immigration restrictions imposed by the popular initiative of 2014 it has become rather difficult for foreign professionals to find a highly qualified job in Switzerland – unless they speak German in German-speaking Switzerland, French in the French-speaking part or Italian in the Italian part. Southern Europeans from Spain and Italy even struggle. So let alone a professional from the Middle East.
The clients I usually work with all have at least studied to Master level, often have a PhD and most of them have a resume with five to 10 years of relevant work experiences working in Pharma, Consulting or Banking. When their partners are hired into Switzerland by large pharmaceutical companies they are often led to believe that it will be a wonderful life in Switzerland and yes, most of it is true. We frequently seem to make false promises though when it comes to spouse employment. We mention that unemployment in Switzerland is below 4% and has been this low for years. What we often fail to mention though is that expat spouses, local hires and other skilled migrants are not accounted for in these statistics. We fail to manage spouse expectations in the hiring process of the partner and then you as the intercultural coach have to deal with it.
I would argue that my colleagues and I have become better at dealing with this frustration in our coaching sessions but our work is often a fight against windmills. What I have taken away from the last three years as an intercultural career advisor is that I do not connect my client’s success with my own success. In coaching we believe that the client has all the resources to tackle her or his goals. Our success is connected to them being successful and reaching their targets but we cannot make us dependent on the job market.

1) Set the right goals for your success

If I made my success dependent on the client reaching his or her coaching goals I would most certainly be depressed by now. I set five goals for each programs:
a) To give the client the best service in helping him or her achieve goals,
b) To help the client develop realistic expectations of how to find a job in Switzerland,
c) To help the client feel ready for the job market in Switzerland,
d) To make the client feel more settled from a cultural perspective.
e) To activate the client if they get stuck in culture shock or frustration.
With these goals, I am often happy to see that the clients leave each session with a feeling of strength and being in control of their fate.

2) Be aware of how you build trust

In coaching we believe in a trustworthy and eye-to-eye relationship. It could happen that you build trust in a different way than your client from another culture and again it could be that you underestimate the power distance. When you are pushing the client along you might face resistance. When you let the client decide when the right time is to get into action they might procrastinate for too long. I think you need to balance it out. You also need to be very clear about when you are advising and when you are coaching. Still, I often leave my clients a choice if they want to implement my advice. Often for example clients do not feel like networking. It seems too hard and too much time for them to find a job. In my experience, it has been the most effective way to find a job or consulting work here. So, when my client does not want to start with a good networking strategy I let them decide. I will come back to the topic later but I will not push too hard. This could weaken your effect in a relationship with high power distance expectation.

3) Find good rituals to begin and end the coaching cycle

Getting a good coaching agreement in the beginning and having a debriefing session with room for feedback are critical to the success of the program in my experience. In the first session, you can position yourself as an expert while focussing on the client’s needs. You can also tell the story of other clients who went through the program and how they benefitted from it.Explain how in your culture a job is found and what is considered good and bad etiquette in the job search process. In the final session you need to debrief the program and also show where expectations might have cultural roots.

4) Maintain your structure but accommodate your client’s needs

For productivity reasons I try to keep a strict weekly or biweekly meeting structure. While this sometimes is even hard for myself, I see that it helps when you work with more than ten coaching clients per week and run other projects and volunteer work on the side. Often clients not only underestimate the challenge of finding a job here but also the challenge of finding reliable childcare, cleaning staff and learning German. There are good reasons why I accommodate their needs as well. I treat my clients like I expected to be treated from service providers when I moved here. I was often disappointed as they do not seem to understand the idea of going an extra mile for the client. To speak with Will Smith “I go 90, you go 10.” Most of the time when I have started a coaching relationship with being nice, accommodating and giving more for free, I earned trust. When I am strict and business-like clients start to negotiate.

5) Start the relationship with the most respectful form of addressing the client

The hardest clients for me are Germans. That is because I am German and because in Germany we would never start a business relationship on a first name basis. Germany has changed since I left seven years ago and Social Media has accepted “Du” as a normal way of addressing each other. I still find “Du” wrong when I speak to persons of authority such as professors who are 20 years older than me. So I stick to the “Sie” for the start. With Americans it is also interesting. I had a French client who had been to the US for around 10 years and kept calling me by my last name even though I had used his first name in English. I admit I underestimated the US-style having lived in the UK and Australia were I felt it was usually ok amongst adults to use first names. It get’s more confusing when my clients are from Pakistan or India where I would call them by their last name such as Ali or Rajat assuming that it is their first name. And then hardly any country is so obsessed with calling people by their names as Switzerland where you are only true friends once you call each other by a nickname.

 

6) Invite the partner and kids along to meet and greet

Sometimes I do invite the whole family to say hello. It helps me to get a better understanding of the framework and especially in male-dominated cultures it might be helpful to meet the husband when I coach the wife. At the same time, I tell the client politely that they need to ask their partner to stay out of the coaching relationship and back off while the partner is looking for work here. The main reason is that the partner usually got a job here without looking for it. They did not have to go through the hassle of cover letters, testimonials, interviews and networking. They were made an offer based on their previous performance. So their situation is not comparable. Also, they are often in an environment that they already know. Even if they worked for a competitor earlier their job adjustment is happening faster.
These are six ways to deal with high power distance in intercultural career coaching relationships. Let me know how your experience is.
PS: If you are struggling to understand the concept of “High Power Distance” you can review the work of Geert Hofstede or review the seven intercultural dimensions by Fons Trompenaars.

I know around three books on “intercultural coaching”. The best one has been written by my former housemate Kirsten Nazarkiewicz. Great minds live in the same building. Kirsten was ten years ago where I wanted to be now. She was an intercultural coach when no one knew what that meant.

1st principle of intercultural effectivenessWhile the term “Intercultural Coach” seems to have meaning in Germany it is not commonly known in Switzerland. There are different approaches to “intercultural coaching” and the term “interculturalist” is not used in Switzerland a lot. What we do is coaching professionals through an intercultural transition ideally improving their effectiveness by increasing intercultural competence on different levels.

In our business (Global People Transitions GmbH – the name says is all) it means coaching in an intercultural transition context or coaching of global managers.

We integrate developing intercultural effectiveness into all our programs as we feel it is a key competence for global leaders, in client service and global team performance. For our client selection it means that we value intercultural diversity.

Why it can sometimes be a burden to be an intercultural coach

The Swiss culture in my view tends to value the opposite. It’s based on excluding rather than including. If you look at how “Switzerland” was founded it is very obvious why the people learnt through generation to protect each other from the enemies outside. What started with the Ruetlischwur in 1291 is still in the mindset of the culture. (I call this concept “The Circle of Trust” in my best Robert de Niro-Voice).

The other reason is that in my personal life I spend time with people from different cultural backgrounds. The multitude of experiences and lifestyles sometimes clashes. There are situations in my life where I have to get up and leave a discussion because I cannot handle it emotionally. It often happens when differing religious and political views are at the table.

While I consider myself open and tolerant I have a strong value-based attitude that is biased towards “Germanic” logic and values. My approach can get into my way. I get frustrated when clients or friends have a different approach.

As most people I tend to overestimate my intercultural sensitivity and I am not as great in this topic when I get under pressure. As most of us I fall back into my “cultural default” (citing Sundae Schneider-Bean, another outstanding intercultural coach and trainer) when under stress.

My seven Principles for Intercultural Effectiveness

When I am asked in a coaching or training: “So what do you do about that?” I have to say that I try and fail or in most cases I eventually succeed if I follow those seven principles.

1) I try harder and show more patience.

2) I watch my conclusion from other angles.

3) I am more compassionate.

4) I give people a third and fourth chance.

5) I trust even if I had been hurt before.

6) I listen to my heart.

7) I speak slow and use simple language.

What I have learnt over the years working across cultures that we have a lot more potential to be compassionate without judging. We just need to learn to reevaluate our conclusions and judgements. We need to give people a fourth and fifth chance and we need to accept them how they are. Then we are true humans, we are able to forgive and we’ll have improving performances in our global teams.

If you struggle with the same topics contact me for a Skype session.

Read also:

http://globalpeopletransitions.com/tag/7-principles-of-intercultural-effectiveness/

 

Sometimes I am embarrassed to say that I work as a "Coach"!
Sometimes I am embarrassed to say that I work as a “Coach”!

Confession #1: There are a number of associations with “coaching” that make me feel embarrassed to call myself “coach”.

According to the ICF (International Coach Federation) coaching has many benefits. Amongst them increased productivity, positive people and return on investment. It is important to understand the benefits of coaching but also how coaching works. Many of my clients possess the knowledge, skills and attitude to move forward in their careers. When they come to see me they are either feeling “stuck” or go through a (cultural) transition where suddenly whatever they had learnt in the past does not really have meaning or feels worthless. In working with my clients I see my role as a tour guide through

1) a learning process

2) a self-experience.

What do I mean by that?

Guided learning is where we support our clients to go through certain steps in a process in order to be more effective in how they approach a topic. An example is finding a job in a new country or dealing with intercultural challenges as a global leader.

Guided self-experience is when we throw our clients in situations where they have to deal with a topic or go through an experience in order to learn something new about themselves. An example for that is a case study, an interview practice or a salary negotiation.

Why do we believe in being a Tour Guide rather than a Drill Master?

Our society is built on performance and discipline. Most of my clients do not need to learn performance and discipline. Often it is the least they need. Often they need to learn to relax a bit more and see the tree in front of the woods again or to focus more on what they have already achieved instead of their faults and failures. That’s why I take a “softer” approach to coaching. My clients often achieve their targets but sometimes they find out they need to give themselves a bit more time to enjoy the ride.

For a tour guide this is the best that can happen.

If you want to know how I could help you achieve your professional goals please contact me directly via angela (at) globalpeopletransitions.com.

Cheers

Angela

PS: Don’t forget we have a special packaged deal during the world championship on our “Rock Me!” Programme.