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deputy Editor, training journal @LightbulbJo

Cook looks I

had coffee recently with a lovely woman who is at a crossroads in her L&D

career. She’s been applying for L&D roles and finding it challenging for a few reasons: some of them practical to do with location; others to do with career development. She also wants to find the right modern, future-thinking organisation that is ready to ensure that L&D methods are appropriate to work performance, and not just a training job. Tere’s also another option

being investigated, which is to go into business for herself. It can be scary to contemplate that, not only for financial security, but also the confidence of knowing how to package one’s skills and experiences and offer them to a harsh, commercial world. It was a fascinating conversation

because it was when talking about the things that this person could, and wanted to, do that she lit up. Her face was brighter, her eyes sparkled and she smiled freely, rather than focusing on the challenges of the job hunt. I’ve been self-employed previously, worked in small and large organisations,

Jo Cook ponders coaching over a coffee

ourselves? Some of these are great to define ahead of time; others, I have found, grow organically. I don’t know what kind of job or business this woman might have later in the year. What I do know is that the conversation was valuable to both of us. We both learnt about each other and got to explore our industry from each other’s perspective. An important element was both of us asking insightful questions of the other and listening. Really listening. Tis brings me to thinking about

By asking the right questions it allowed the other person to think, to investigate and to construct

and am now back to running my own business, so I got excited too! Over the course of a couple of

hours, we talked a lot about the broad L&D landscape, specific skills we had in common, as well as some business detail. How do salary and dividends work for a limited company? How on earth do you know how much to charge clients? What kind of options are there for marketing

coaching and mentoring. We didn’t start our conversation that way. We happened to live in the same county, have bumped into each other at conferences and online, and thought a coffee was overdue. What we ended up doing was enthusing each other and also doing a certain amount of low-level coaching. By ask- ing the right questions it allowed the other person to think, to investigate and to construct. Having some basic understanding of the communication skills that coaches use to draw out thoughts from other people can be useful in all of your career and home life. It allows people the space they need to open up to each other and to explore, whatever the subject. We could all do with a bit of that.

Jo Cook is the

deputy editor of TJ and is responsible for www. webinars and the online community. She can be contacted at jo.cook@

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