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I want to coach IT people...why don't they think they need it?

By Plan B ·
I'm confused. I'm a former long-time IT person that has retrained as a trainer and personal coach. I've chosen IT people as my niche - Executives, Managers, and Professionals. As a former IT Manager myself, I used a coach for a year and it changed my life.

I'm on the West Coast of Canada and coaching of all kinds is very popular here - from life/personal to business to career to executive to relationship. Yet, I'm finding the IT people I approach either don't know what it is or don't think it can help them in any way.

Perhaps I'm explaining it poorly? I know IT people in general are very self-assured and analytical. It's difficult to explain the ROI in "real" terms. I had to be convinced that it was worthwhile before I started.

What advice can you give an aspiring IT coach to help connect to IT people that are looking for/needing coaching? Alternatively, how would you explain the benefits of coaching to an IT person?

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I think you've got it down perfectly!

by Plan B In reply to coaching, generally

In explaining what you meant, I think you recapsulated my (non-expressed) thinking very well.

"In the strong changing field of IT (from technical/knowledge to business driven) customer(in- or external) relation and communication skills are getting more and more important (and a lot of other skills as well).
On training you get to know about those skills but there is more to them then knowing about the technics of the skills. A coach can be helpful on determing and developing the minor developed skills you(generally spoken) have."

THAT is why I want to help IT people. I KNOW they know the IT stuff. I don't want to help them improve that. I want to help with what I consider the strategic skills - better communication, better time management, better relationship management, help them be better leaders or team members, help them build a better team, etc.
Some people consider these things soft skills and therefore of lesser value than hard-earned IT skills.

But as IT moves more and more "into the business", these strategic soft-skills are becoming more and more vital to acknowledge and improve upon. Those that don't are leaving themselves open for customer complaints (at best) right through to outsourcing (at worst).

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You are coacing... What?

by jkameleon In reply to I want to coach IT people ...

Horseback riding? Synchronized swimming? Waterballet?

If you are coaching something like leg wrestling, you shouldn't complain about the lack of interest.

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Those who can do...

by X-MarCap In reply to I want to coach IT people ...

Those who can't

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Those who can only do...

by rick In reply to Those who can do...

Having worked in IT for a number of years now, including teaching programming, database theory, and analysis and design at the college level, here is the comeback to your tired old "those who can do, those who can't teach" truism.

"If you can't explain it to someone else, who don't really understand it yourself."

Sounds like you could use some coaching yourself.

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Coaching What?

by onbliss In reply to I want to coach IT people ...

We keep learning things each day, and sometimes life is an never ending learning saga. We learn from our Parents, family, friends, teacher, **Books**, nature and last but not the least personal experience.

We also learn from training institutes and forums such as this, where we get to know things from our peers.

So if you were going to offer something, then one certainly wants to know what is that you can offer that can not be learnt from the other sources.

Quite often we know what our Sales staff offer to our customers, we have seen several brochures that look all pretty and nice that we kno are part of the normal hype.

To be honest, the moment some one says "ROI", my internal defensive mechanisms are put on alert :). Some times the "buzz words" just puts me off. I just would like to read or hear about things in simple language:
1) What is it that is being offered?
2) How is it being offered?
3) How will it help?

Ofcourse some people are lured by the jargons and buzz words.

Also many technical people are quite comfortable in learning new things by reading technical books. And these days one gets the answer for almost anything from "Google University" :). So how is your coaching different from these sources?

For example, I had to learn plenty of new stuff when I ventured into Web Development. My company offered training allowance (which was way below than what most of the training institutes charged), so I chose to go for a simple course that introduced me to ASP.Net, and then I used the training allowance to buy books that I needed.

~~~My two cents

**Book: I encompass both electronic material and traditional books into this category.

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How good are you?

by DC Guy In reply to I want to coach IT people ...

For you to know what I need to learn in order to make a qualitative improvement in my career is not even half the battle. I might very well already know that myself. What you have to be able to do is impart it to me.

What kind of a coach are you? Do you keep your students interested, upbeat, receptive? Do they come out at every break full of enthusiasm and gratitude? Are you persuasive and easy to understand? How do you come across on a first impression--am I going to think about hiring you after just a few minutes of contact, so that the remainder is just closing the sale?

Most importantly, what's your track record? Do you have a list of highly satisfied customers who would gladly tell me how great you are? You will, of course, have to start out doing corporate seminars as several have suggested, and you'll probably have to start that with public sector clients. That's good experience, they can be a really tough bunch when it comes to accepting something new.

You have chosen a profession in which marketing is about 99 percent of the job. Are you that good at marketing?

I have to say--with the most sincere compassion and understanding--that you did not come across that way in your posting. You sound a little unsure of yourself. You don't have ready answers for the two most common questions self-employed people face: 1. Why should I hire YOU? 2. What do I get for my monety?

You spent quite a bit of time under the tutelage of a coach, yet you did not pick up some of the basics of her job.

YOU have to be able to explain the benefits of coaching to an IT person, and you have to be able to do that off the top of your head, in order to be a coach to IT people. There is no one answer to that question. You have to size up the questioner and give him an answer that speaks to his own issues. You have to read his facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and all the other "tells" to exploit the full bandwidth of communication. (Obviously you can't possibly do this by e-mail. ^_^ )

These are "people skills" and they're skills that very few of us propeller-headed IT geeks have. Most of us went into IT precisely because we're more comfortable in the silicon world than the carbon world.

I have no doubt about your passion for what you want to do, and I'll take your word for it that you have the knowledge to do it. But I wonder whether you have the temperament. It's a rare skill.

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The answer is in the question

by neillix In reply to I want to coach IT people ...

Just browsing through some of the repsonses, it's evident that a0 many IT folks don't know what "coaching" is unless it's used in terms of sports and 2) IT people are usually very self directing. If they want a new certification or knowlege in some other area, we'll teach ourself through self study, books, peers. You may want to target a dfferent audience, someone with less of a clue in what they want to acheieve-like a new college graduate, or a person who may need to change careers after age 40 or 50. I was approached by a "coach" last year. To be honest, she was wasting her time "holding me accountable, setting goals", etc. When I want something, I design my path and just go for it. There hasn't been much I havn't been able to accomplish on my own.

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Coaching jargon doesn't help

by Plan B In reply to The answer is in the ques ...

I also have difficulty with some of the coaching jargon that is used. I think that this contributes to the lack of understanding to what a coach does.

I'm also starting to see that my most likely targets in the IT field will be in the 35-50 age range - those that have been through the battles for a few years and are now realizing they need help to get where they want to be.

I congratulate you on being able to design your path and go for it. Truly a unique skill. From my experience in coaching, I think most people are not built this way. We think of great plans and ideas, but we rarely follow through to complete them on our own.

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Target transitions

by JamesRL In reply to Coaching jargon doesn't h ...

Where you might address a need is in targetting those going through a transition, from say, techie or project manager to department manager, or department manager to senior management.

Those are the make or break times in someone's career where they have the opportunity to learn and grow, and the challenge of trying to fit into a new environment.


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by michaelemunson In reply to I want to coach IT people ...

I'm coming to IT from hardware service, and am fairly new. i can suggest things I've observed: First, alot of IT people I know (tragicly) fit the stereotype, being poor at face to face, or other direct communication with normal humans. Programmers are the worst. So it may simply be they are NOT resisting your offer to help, onyl giving an oblique replay.
second, here in the mighty US, alot of employees are both told to seek to improve, AND encouraged to claim they are already at the top of their game. They often fear to admit they might improve from coaching, in case the bean-counting management hears, and gives someone who refuses to admit teir need the next bonus/raise/continued employment.
so the two things I've seen in your way are
1:"Tech Psychosis"
2.Stupid Management (the modern most common oxymoron).

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