It was either me or a root canal

Last night I received a late email from one of my clients. I was informed that he'd forgot to tell me he wouldn't be able to keep his appointment for our coaching session today.  He had double booked himself and was now going to his dentist to have a root canal. 

Not sure how to take it when someone would rather have a root canal than work with his coach; but I am trying to resist any metaphorical association.

Business people and professionals end up working with a career or executive coach for a multitude of reasons, but it usually boils down to one of two fundamentals.

1. The individual seeks out someone who can help them do better.  They are prepared to invest in themselves with an expectation that their investment will be returned many times afterward.

2. The company or organization employing the individual decides that an individual or a group of individuals operating as a unit will witness improved results after working with a coach.

Expected outcomes for deciding why to employ a coach, regardless of who's paying for it generally fit into either of these considerations:

1. Performance enhancement - Either the individual her/himself, or their employer, recognizes there are excellent prospects but a little assistance is needed to realize their greatness. 

Tiger Woods as an example:  The person believes strongly in her/ himself. (S)he expects to be very successful and recognizes that others, with more experience or training, can speed up their success.  Recently the CEO of Home Depot said he can't imagine that anyone will realize their full potential without a coach.  Unfortunately most organizations aren't as enlightened. Most choose to invest most of their money in those who are performing below standards.

2. Remedial work -  Either the individual or the employer identifies that the individual is facing roadblocks which - left alone - will probably result in career derailment or self sabotage.

Performing previously at satisfactory, or even above-satisfactory levels, the individual in question is now in danger of failure.  He or she may show signs of loss of perspective, or an inability to engage effectively.  Often there is an underlying personal loss or issue which cannot be discussed comfortably on the place of employment.  In such circumstances, the coach may use psychometric tools or simply act as a 'career partner', someone who can discuss the pros and cons of certain daily occurrences and provide another perspective and guidance during a tough time.

I recently attended a research forum conducted for the International Coach Federation. Overseen by the University of California's Center for Effective Organizations, we covered research conducted with 55 multinational firms with median size of $10B annually and 34,000 employees. 

One of the critical conclusions of the study was that organizations need to hire more internal coaches to reduce the impact of management turnover.  It found that internal coaches are the best opportunity for the greatest ROI for most companies.  I would strongly encourage this.  Although my encouragement may seem to be counter-productive for my practice (as an 'external' coach,) the results speak for themselves.  These hires would present a very sound investment over time and the benefits of keeping experienced supervisors and executives will ultimately enhance that investment's payback. The best use of external coaches is in effectiveness enhancement, in most cases.  Invest in yourself or your winning employees to optimize returns on investment with a different objective. 

And finally, speaking to any coaches who are reading this -Don't take it personally if, occasionally your client chooses a root canal over an appointment with you.

                                                                    - john

                                                                  Career Coach


John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

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