Coaching for confidence in the workplace
Coaching can be a powerful tool for developing personal and professional confidence in the workplace. In my experience, many professionals, even those in very senior positions, struggle with confidence issues, such as imposter syndrome, fear of failure, or self-doubt. These issues can impact their performance at work, their relationships at work and away from work, and their overall well-being and that of others around them.
Coaching is not exclusively delivered by a specialist practitioner; in many companies, coaching is part of a line manager's job role, or it’s a skill embedded in the Human Resources team. However, there are times when a company will bring in someone from outside the organisation to work with employees as part of a regular structured development programme, or when an intervention may be needed to support an individual for a personal issue or a problem they are facing.
Whoever provides coaching, it is an approach to helping others based on a set of principles of person-centric, person-driven, non-judgemental support. Many people do prefer to work with an independent coach whom they have ‘chosen’ themselves so they can be certain there are no conflicts of interest or hidden agendas for the coach. This is particularly important when there are issues of confidence that may be impacting performance at work.
When working with professionals in this area, my aim is to help them identify the root causes of their lack of confidence and to develop strategies for building that up while providing support and encouragement along the way. This includes setting achievable goals, practising new skills, and learning to reframe negative thoughts and beliefs.
How can coaching help?
There are many ways a coach can help support a coachee and anyone's chosen approach has to be based on the underlying cause of the lack of confidence. A skilful coach should always work with the client’s own reflections and conclusions about where the root cause of the problem lies.
This could include helping the client to identify limiting beliefs, such as a fear of failure or a belief that they are not good enough. Once the coachee becomes aware of these beliefs, they can work, with the support of the coach, on challenging and changing them.
Developing a growth mindset is important for making change and is founded on the belief that it is possible to learn and grow from experience. That, of course, is itself one of the beliefs that has to be uncovered early on in the coaching relationship. Once this positive way of thinking is embraced, future challenges can be approached constructively, reframing failure as an opportunity for growth.
With support from their coach, an individual can begin to set realistic and achievable goals. Ideally, these will be more like milestones along the road to bigger goals, so that achieving these in the short term gives a sense of accomplishment – a personal ‘pat on the back’ – that contributes to growing confidence in addressing the longer term.
I place great store on practical and hands-on coaching sessions that help clients practice new skills and behaviours, using techniques such as Future Pacing. This is an exercise whereby the client imagines their future self, and in a powerful way pre-experiences what it is like to have the personal success that comes with greater confidence and self-belief.
Future Pacing can be paired with an exercise called ‘Anchoring’, which establishes an association between a physical trigger with a desired emotional state – in this case, a feeling of being calm and confident. ‘Firing’ the anchor can readily bring that emotional state back and can provide a way to cope and find confidence in key situations.
These various tools have the effect of boosting an individual’s confidence by the very fact that they are available to the individual as a personally accessible resource.
As an individual starts to use their positive mindset and the various resources they have acquired to set and work towards their goals, their coach will provide feedback and support. I often use an approach called 'Accountability Cadences': I ask a client to send me a post-session reflection on their top three ‘takeaways’ and the top three things they will work on between sessions. This, I find, gives a sense of purpose and forward momentum to the relationship and that, in itself, builds confidence.
Coaching is a highly effective, albeit often quite subtle, way to support people in the workplace, where success comes from not only skill and expertise but also from self-belief and the confidence to use those skills to the full.
For more information about coaching for confidence and success please visit my profile.