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CareersYou don’t have to wait to get stuck in your career to consider getting a coach to help you through. If you reflect on your performance appraisals or review your competence profile against the requirements of your position, you should be able to come up with a few choice areas for development. Or, you could look at the requirements for the positions ahead of you and work on potential gaps.

Whatever the case may be, the sooner you avail of coaching, the sooner the improvement begins.

Let me make an assumption: most of us are lacking in one of two critical areas at the workplace – finance or people skills.

The starting point is to recognise our area of development. Next, we need to decide that something has to be done about it and then find a resource that can help.

Go to a colleague in Finance and ask for help in understanding financial terms, reports and all the other esoteric matters they are involved in. You’ll be surprised at how easy the direct approach is. People love to help and, in fact, are flattered if a colleague comes to them.

For coaching to be effective, you need to have specific areas you wish to work on (but pick one at a time). Set up a mutually convenient time, at a location with little or no distractions. Be clear about what you wish to achieve, your expectations of the coach and whether the coach is willing to help you. Agree to a meeting schedule and, if possible, look for assignments to work on until the next session.

To be really effective, set a goal (where you wish to be as a result of these sessions) and a measurement system (how will you know you have achieved what you  had set out to do?). Going in prepared for each session will demonstrate not just your commitment to personal development but also respect for the person helping you.

The benefits of coaching are beyond your expectations. Try it. It works.

– Leon Menezes
The writer is an executive coach, professor, senior HR practitioner and writer.

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on February 2, 2014.