Career coaching is just one specific access point through which the client and coach get a look-in at who the person is, what they want to do, and how they can achieve this.Magdalena Bak-Maier, Grid creator, neuroscientist and productivity expert
What is career coaching?
Career coaching covers a vast geography, including:
- exploring who one is and what one wants to do,
- supporting someone through making career choices,
- development of a career and professional identity including gaining specific qualifications,
- making job moves,
- dealing with career setbacks.
It can take many different approaches that range from being given advice to being supported in how one navigates work, qualifications and professional growth.
How do career professionals help?
The professional one will often call for help includes a career counselor, career coach, or career consultant. A career counselor will use their counseling skills to empower the client in navigating career challenges. A coach will focus on helping the client set and achieve specific career goals. A consultant will often give expert feedback and advice on job hunting, CV and job applications, help with interview preparation, and may also assist with the entire job application process including the negotiation of the job offer.
The skills and professional backgrounds of these practitioners can – and do – overlap. They may also be niched by specific themes such as “return to work after maternity” or “first board-level role” for example, work sectors, and many others.
What is common to much of career coaching is the need to help clients explore three questions:
- Who am I?
- What do I really want to do?
- How will this or another career choice/path fit with the above?
“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”Frederick Bauchner, American writer and theologian
A key skill that helps unite these themes is learning how to balance one’s capabilities and needs within a personal and professional context and locate one’s sense of a place in this context. When this is achieved, and all coaching aims towards this goal in one way or another, progress energizes and refuels in equal measure to final outcomes. Life takes on meaning. There is deep gladness and inner strength even in the face of adversity. Grid helps develop and sustain such balance.
How Grid can aid career coaching
Grid adopts a very holistic approach in which career coaching fits into a larger context of life. The Grid framework was designed to support holistic productivity, which includes good work-life balance, health and well-being, and satisfying professional growth or career development.
Observing people in different life and career paths, and what made them seek help made me realize that, without making self-care and career into conscious parts of work-life balance management, people inevitably end up making poor choices. People tend to either ‘move away from’ or ‘towards’ something and many people have a tendency to do the former. They seek coaching to avoid or escape something.
People are more likely to realize their true potential when they consider how work and career dovetail with the rest of their life and who they are. The career choices they will make based on such insights will have fewer trade-offs either in their personal or professional life or how their work impacts their health. For those motivated to move towards greater fulfillment and happiness, consciously considering how career fits with everything else, helps individuals work move closer to what they truly desire and deserve.
This is the basis of my integration work.
Grid targets balance
Grid was designed to help people do well and be well. It offers a tool and system to create and sustain balance. It works to minimize trade-offs. This is achieved by working within the total context of how work and life interact, from the outset. In the Grid career is not an isolated entity, but rather a key quadrant that influences and is influenced by other Grid sectors. Grid has 4 quadrants in total:
- Personal life (Grid Quadrant 1)
- Self-care (Grid Quadrant 2)
- Work/business/studies (Grid Quadrant 3)
- Career/professional growth (Grid Quadrant 4)
3 ways that Grid helps when it comes to career coaching
1. Helping with boundaries
Often, when people encounter career challenges, the key problem is that they did not sufficiently differentiate between career management and daily work activity and/or they suffered burnout. Some clients don’t think about career management at all because all their time and energy is devoted to day-to-day activities.
Grid helps avoid this by making these two complementary activities distinct and supports the client in managing both. The impact of this is that we have a far more productive approach to career management on a regular basis rather than addressing career issues once in a while. Grid can be useful to the client whether he/she wants to focus on the present or future-orientated goals. Grid is also an excellent burnout recovery and prevention coaching tool, helping to support people in returning to work and being more productive at work.
2. Bringing a systemic lens to career conversations and decisions
A great deal of career dissatisfaction often stems from a lack of a systemic lens on how one’s career fits in with the rest of their life and what one needs to be well. This is where Grid framework can help, because career navigation and option-finding is balanced with other needs.
Grid helps one highlight and avoid creating conflicts and trade-offs. For those who find themselves wondering whether their career aligns with who they are and what matters to them, Grid helps the person consciously examine how work, career, personal life and health and well-being of the individual actually influence each other.
3. Giving the client and coach a process and tool for making and tracking progress
All results – including those in the career sphere – require motivation and sustainable progress. This is often where people struggle and why they need help. Here, Grid coaching really comes into its own.
In addition to linking the 4 key spheres of life (personal, self-care, work and career), Grid offers a robust and effective process for advancing results. It links big goals with daily activity that supports and motivates the person to take small, consistent, and productive action steps. Grid builds embodied confidence and resilience. Being highly visual, Grid also helps evidence progress and highlight areas where this is not happening.
Additional benefits of using Grid in career coaching
Clients who seek career coaching may also:
- be facing other challenges and Grid will help them see how patterns in one area may repeat in other domains
- have resources they fail to see as relevant/helpful to their career in other areas of their life and Grid will highlight them
- feel overwhelmed and anxious but with the Grid, they can recover calm and order in a single session
- battle confidence issues, and with Grid coaching, they will quickly recover it
- have ‘bad habits’ such as poor boundary management, lack of focus and/or organization; Grid will help them strengthen these skills
- battle mental health issues such as depression and addiction; Grid can facilitate a way out of these.
“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”Stephen Covey, Author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Grid anchors all forms of coaching (life, career, executive, health and well-being) in a holistic framework that focuses on empowering the individual through greater self-awareness, overall balance and evidence-based feedback. Grid invites the person to become the creator of their life and exercise personal leadership in all 4 quadrants. Over time, Grid helps people show up to life with greater coherence and assists with finding meaning.
Find out more
On October 1st, I am giving an invited short workshop for Career Counseling Services (CCS).
If you’re a career coach, HR or L&D practitioner, career counselor or consultant, my session will help you explore how adding the Grid to your toolkit could be useful in your practice. To sign up, contact CCS.
Three career tips from me
- Review your CV every 6 months. Imagine it as a window or a shop-front. What sort of people, customers, institutions, and opportunities does it invite? I would recommend scheduling this activity in your Yearly Grid.
- Make regular time to network with fellow professionals to stay abreast on key developments in your field and to update them on your activities. This is a great task activity to add to your Monthly Grid.
- Develop a habit of asking yourself this question at the start or end of each week: How am I growing my value and offering through what I do and how I do it? You may find my Guardian article Worried a robot will replace you? Treat AI as an opportunity useful for ideas on how to put more focus on learning and growth over any fears.
Get inspired by our Grid case studies
- How Grid can help you do more of what you love case study.
- Improving work-life balance and building a new career path case study.
- Managing a demanding career and high-level productivity without burnout case study.
- How Grid can help you manage family and demanding work case study.
- How one can juggle a portfolio career and still stay sane case study.
From Dr. Magdalena Bak-Maier, Grid™ Creator and MTC Founder
My work and life are devoted to understanding human empowerment. I am interested in how we self-actualize, get out of our way and shine, build holistically productive relationships, love and heal. How we embrace our wholeness and develop spiritually in the process of living and becoming ourselves more fully fascinates me. This integrated perspective is what I bring to my leadership development and 1:1 coaching work.
How I spend my time is by teaching, writing, coaching, and sharing the power of reconnecting within. I use my mind and heart integration approach, the Grid, and other creative ways of working with people to allow me to combine education, neuroscience, psychology with healing and trauma recovery. When we discover inner peace and love, the world we see and how we act in it changes. I balance my work with supporting fellow practitioners, nurturing our MTC team, looking after my family and taking care of my health.
Thank you for reading. Get in touch to discuss how my work can help you.