Written by: Sanaz Kalantari, ACC

Explore if career coaching is a luxury or a necessity in today’s workplace and discover the benefits for both individuals and organizations alike

As the world of work rapidly evolves, career coaching has become an invaluable asset for professionals and organizations alike. But is coaching an excessive luxury or an essential investment in your career success? 

At its core, career coaching focuses on shaping your career mindset. It’s a collaborative journey that empowers you to uncover your true potential and align your aspirations with actionable steps. Professional coaches use guided reflections and thought-provoking questions to delve deeply into your strengths, passions, and values, fostering introspection and clarity. This process helps individuals gain a deeper understanding of their career goals and the necessary steps to achieve them. 

The Evolving Career Landscape: Why Agility Matters 

As the career landscape evolves and offers a wider range of options, we need to be aware of the skills and mindsets valued in modern workplaces. The Harvard Business Review’s “9 Trends That Will Shape Work in 2024 and Beyondhighlights the importance of adaptability, resilience, and a mindset that balances professional and personal goals. Instead of following traditional career paths, professionals now must craft their career journeys to remain agile and adaptable to new technologies and shifting expectations. This change emphasizes the need for professionals to acquire skills such as strategic thinking, self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and proactive career planning. 

Career coaching is a powerful tool to help you improve these essential skills and uncover new opportunities. The 2022 ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study highlights how coaching can help people grow professionally. The study found that one of the primary reasons people seek coaching is to “expand their professional career opportunities.” Moreover, the 2023 ICF Defining New Coaching Cultures report shows organizations have seen numerous benefits from coaching programs. The report indicates that most of the organizations surveyed strongly agree or agree that coaching has led to enhanced leadership development, increased employee engagement, and improved team functioning. This increasing recognition highlights the role of career coaching in supporting personal and professional growth. 

Key Benefits of Career Coaching 

Career coaches provide valuable support for navigating career-related challenges and achieving professional goals. Benefits include: 

  • Improved Self-Awareness: Coaches help you explore your thoughts, strengths, weaknesses, passions, and hidden talents, identifying opportunities that suit your true potential and helping you find your next career move.  
  • Specific and Meaningful Goals: Coaches help you establish specific, achievable goals that match your personal and professional aspirations, ensuring your goals are consistent with your values and life’s purpose.  
  • Work-Life Balance: Recognizing the importance of work-life integration, career coaches help you discover strategies to balance your career and personal life. Prioritizing health and self-care becomes an integral part of your career journey.
  • Optimism and Resilience: Coaches focus on cultivating an optimistic mindset. This mindset enables you to see possibilities, overcome obstacles, and tackle career development challenges intentionally. 
  • Career Transitions: Whether switching careers, facing workplace issues, or returning to work, coaches support you with techniques for managing transitions confidently.   

Coaching: Your Compass for Career Changes 

Vanessa, an experienced tech architect interested in switching to sales, is intimidated by the transition. Unsure about her abilities and background for a sales role, she looks for guidance beyond general suggestions and recommendations. A career coach can help Vanessa by:   

  • Assisting her to explore her motivations and establish clear objectives.  
  • Demonstrating how her technical skills can be beneficial in sales.   
  • Holding her accountable and dedicated to her career change plan.   
  • Enhancing her confidence and resilience to deal with new difficulties.   
  • Providing strategies to manage her work and personal life.   

With this support, Vanessa can find opportunities that align with her values and plan a smooth career transition. 

A Real-World Example: Microsoft’s Coaching Approach

Microsoft’s comprehensive approach to career coaching shows the positive impact of coaching on people and organizations. The Microsoft Customer and Partner Solutions (MCAPS) organization first partnered with EZRA, a global digital coaching platform that uses ICF-credentialed coaches. The pilot program, which ran from April to June 2023, involved 350 sales professionals and offered three virtual coaching sessions and behavior prompts to foster key career-related behaviors. 

The pilot produced remarkable outcomes, such as higher organizational commitment, increased confidence, and clearer career goals. Before coaching, many employees faced challenges in progressing within the company’s structure. After coaching, their commitment improved by 10% on average, with a significant 28% increase in confidence and clarity about career growth. Coaching helped participants establish specific goals, develop detailed plans, and concentrate on skill development. 

An astounding 83% of participants recognized the program’s importance in their growth, with high engagement levels — 95% were willing to recommend the program, 97% learned something new, and 95% made positive post-coaching changes. Motivated by this success, Microsoft scaled up its career coaching efforts. They expanded the EZRA program beyond the pilot phase to include all MCAPS employees. This expansion provided one-on-one coaching with external coaches and added a group coaching option with internally certified coaches. This mixed approach enabled them to reach a staggering 8,000 MCAPS employees, offering high-quality coaching through both external and internal resources. 

Microsoft plans to sustain and extend this program to benefit even more of its sales organization. This effort demonstrates Microsoft’s dedication to democratizing coaching, making it available to all employees, not just a select few, and showing their commitment to optimizing employee potential and growth through career coaching. 

From Luxury to Necessity: It’s Time to Invest in Your Professional Growth 

Career coaching is no longer seen as a luxury or only for the C-suite but rather a necessary step towards professional success for anyone who wants to shape their own career and value job satisfaction. Working with a career coach is like having a knowledgeable guide when exploring new territory, ensuring that your professional choices are deliberate and aligned with your broader aspirations and life goals.  

Are you ready to work with a skilled coach to help you navigate toward success and satisfaction in your career journey? 

Find your career coach with the ICF Credentialed Coach Finder. 

More About the Author

Sanaz Kalantari, ACC

Sanaz Kalantari, Global Lead for Coaching Services at Microsoft, is a Senior Learning Manager with over 20 years of experience in the technology sector. At Microsoft Customer & Partner Solutions (MCAPS), she leads the global coaching services with a vision to democratize coaching and provide career growth opportunities to all employees. Sanaz has held successful roles at several leading technology organizations, where she developed a passion for mindset and leadership coaching. Her work focuses on empowering professionals to unlock their potential and drive personal and career growth. Learn more.