What is a Work-Life Coach?
A “work-life coach” supports clients in a variety of areas of life, creating synergies between living, learning, and working. The areas work-life coaches offer support in encompass self-care and well-being, life-skills and emotional intelligence, and career development and maintenance.
A passage from CPC’s The Canadian Work-Life Strategist, CPC’s Certified Work-Life Strategist eGuide made an impact on me and has stayed in my mind.
“Myth: Work and life are separate issues, needing either a career coach or a life coach.
Truth: More and more, career development professionals are called on to support their clients with a broader scope of service which often will lead to the life conversation. Quality of life is directly impacted by more than the state of one’s career. Work-life strategists help their clients integrate work and life. They not only assist clients with career planning, transition, and management; they also promote self-care, well-being, and lifelong learning.”
Work-life coaches are typically career coaches and life coaches who understand and support the connection between all areas of work and life. Using a combination of evidence-based models, theories, and philosophies, a work-life coach takes a whole-person approach focusing on three main categories:
As part of the client intake process, the work-life coach will conduct a needs analysis to determine client goals and design a program based on those target areas. The work-life coach will work towards creating a trusting environment and adhere to a strict code of standards and ethics. By doing so, a safe space is created for the client to dive into areas that can be sensitive and sometimes evoke strong emotion. Because work-life coaches provide clients with thoughtful, systematic ways to attain their goals, we sometimes call these types of professionals “work-life strategists.”
A work-life strategist will ask a lot of questions. The intent is to ascertain or highlight areas related to the client’s life that may be preventing them from living the life they want. The exploratory questions could be related to self-care and well-being, stress and trauma, and positive psychology. Discussions around healthy life habits, anxiety and life/career related stress, and attitudes about the future could form part of this work.
Many clients are looking for support and guidance on how to build certain essential and technical skills in this new world of work. The work-life coach will have up-to-date and sound knowledge on what skills and abilities employers are seeking. This is helpful in providing guidance on where their clients should invest their time and money on education and up-skilling. A work-life coach will encourage their clients to have a life-long learning approach but ultimately the decision to undertake additional training or education is in the hands of the client.
Many clients seek the support of a work-life coach to navigate a career-related challenge. This could be an unexpected job loss, some sort of career transition, or the recognition that their career is no longer providing a sense of fulfillment. Whatever the reason, a work-life coach acts as an advocate for their client. The client may be dealing with a host of emotions related to their livelihood, lack of purpose, or lack of career clarity. A work-life coach is a trained professional with access to a variety of tools and models and theories to support their client’s career journey.
Work-Life Coaching in Action
I’d like to share how my approach to work-life coaching has supported positive client change. Personal details have been modified to protect client privacy.
Mark has worked as an office administrator for the past four years. He recently met with his manager for his annual performance review. It was a very respectful and well-thought out discussion about Mark’s strengths and areas for growth. At this meeting, they both agreed that some of Mark’s performance issues — his areas for growth — could be addressed through coaching. His manager saw this as a valuable investment in his employee as it would support Mark in becoming more productive, engaged, and committed to the organization. Mark’s performance issues revolved around communication, confidence, and positivity.
This is how I met Mark. As his work-life coach and strategist, I designed a coaching program that included a variety of tools, models, and resources — all selected to address his specific performance issues. Some of the tools included exploring his values at work and understanding his communication style and the style of his colleagues. The intent of these exercises was to create greater self-awareness of his current practices and how he may augment or style-shift for the benefit of others.
It was through this work that Mark recognized how hard he often was on himself. He was highly critical of some of his actions, especially times he felt he had let his team down. I helped him see the positive side of his efforts, even when the outcome was different than what he had intended.
After a focused 8-week coaching program, Mark and I concluded our time together. Thanks to the positive impact of his program, Mark decided to continue working with me, but on a monthly basis. This regular touch point is beneficial for both his professional and personal development. At work, Mark’s manager sees him as a more confident and engaged employee who interacts more positively with others.
I am delighted to report that Mark’s focus and determination to achieve growth at work has had a positive impact at home, too. Mark shared that he has learned to recognize when he is “making a mountain out of a molehill” about a situation. He is now aware of times when he catastrophizes his thoughts. When this happens, he pauses and brings focus to the present moment. Mark said that his spouse has noticed a positive change in him, observing that he’s abandoned his former attitudes of self-doubt and negativity to take a more realistic perspective of the situations that come up in life and at work.
A work-life coach has a unique set of skills, knowledge, and credentials to support their clients with wellness, life-skills, and career management. In our ever-evolving world of work, clients — more than ever — are seeking guidance and strategies on how to balance life and career.
Commit to your life-long learning and enrol in CPC’s Work-Life Strategist program. CPC’s Certified Work-Life Strategist (CWS) could be the credential you need to elevate your career reputation and further support the clients you work with. Enhance your skill in career and life coaching today!
Michelle Precourt, founder and principal consultant of Mindful HR Services, is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources, a Certified Work-Life Strategist, and Mindfulness Facilitator based in Squamish, British Columbia. Learn more about Michelle and her work at michelle precourt.com.