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The pandemic has left many of us reevaluating our work lives. A great coach can help you focus on what matters most and prepare you for what comes next

For many of us, the last few months have felt like our life has been placed on hold. You might have had the best intentions to use the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown as a chance to learn a new skill or tackle an aspirational project. But in reality, with a rearranged schedule and endless disruptions, keeping on top of even the most basic tasks is hard.

It’s natural for everyone to go through a period like this at some point in their lives, but the whole world going through one at the same time is unprecedented. Even if you feel ready to get your life back on track, others may not be at the same stage you are. This can affect you personally, as well as your colleagues and your business.

There isn’t a single solution that is applicable to everyone

Professional coaching is a great way to find the inner clarity needed to make good decisions and move forward. Unlike the direct guidance of mentoring, coaching is more reflective. It is about asking the right questions to help someone unlock their potential and draw answers from within. There is no single, magic piece of advice that will help you with yourself, your colleagues and your business during this unprecedented time, but the right questions will help you understand what you need.

How coaching can help you

Throughout the pandemic, a common complaint has been a general lack of motivation. Additional stress from a loss of routine, uncertainly in your future work conditions or a complete shift in priorities can make choosing your next challenge a difficult task.

The exact reason for your personal lethargy is completely unique. Perhaps the loss of your morning commute has made it far harder to get in the right mentality for work. If your children are now learning from home you certainly have fewer hours in the day to yourself. Your home office, no matter how well set up, might simply be a less productive environment due to the lack of clear line between work life and home life.

Individuals and teams need to carefully think about what is working for them

There isn’t a single solution that is applicable to everyone. You might not know where to start, or even specifically what is wrong, but the guidance of a great coach can help you shorten the list. Understanding what is most important to you, how to break up your day and unlock the potential within can make the current world a lot easier to deal with.

How coaching can help with your colleagues

With Zoom calls replacing every meeting, the working relationships you are used to might have drastically changed. The very nature of video conferencing requires meetings to be more formal and structured, especially in larger groups. This is hard for teams that value collaborative decision making, where more assertive members might come to dominate discussions.

The loss of casual office interactions adds to this. The kind of conversations that happen while making a tea in the kitchen, for example, now need to be deliberately scheduled. Combined with the unique personal strain everyone is dealing with, all this can make working as a team more difficult.

The way we live and work feels like it has changed irrecoverably

Individuals and teams need to carefully think about what is working for them, as well as what isn’t, and develop ways to rebuild some of the lost teamwork. Asking a colleague or senior manager to provide this coaching can be one way to help build such a collaboration. A great coach will then ask the right questions to bring people together and prompt teams to create a new way of working that is right for them.

How coaching can help with your business

Every day new warnings sound about the state of the economy. The way we live and work feels like it has changed irrecoverably, and every business will need to find new ways of working. An early example is cafés and restaurants; a delivery or takeaway option has become a hasty addition to many sit-down establishments.

Coaching can help business owners identify what is most important and focus on their aspirations. One of the innovative ways coaching has been used at Imperial is through Group Idea Surgeries held by Imperial Enterprise Lab. Budding student entrepreneurs, who have never met before, are brought together with a staff member to take their ideas to the next level. Students can use the session to build their network, receive feedback from the group on their business ideas, ask questions and motivate one another.

The way we live and work feels like it has changed irrecoverably

Victoria Nicholl, Entrepreneurship Development Manager, who leads on the Idea Surgeries, says the sessions have provided successful coaching at both the individual and collaborative levels. “It’s been amazing to see students leave feeling inspired and with insights that are really helping to drive their business ideas forward.”

The future is full of uncertainties, but with a clear focus on your goals and understanding of what you need to help you achieve them, this could be a fantastic chance to have a positive reset with coaching.

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Harveen Chugh profile

About Harveen Chugh

Senior Teaching Fellow
Harveen is an Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Warwick Business School. Previously, she was a Principal Teaching Fellow in Entrepreneurship at Imperial College Business School.

She is also an alum of the Business School having completed her PhD in Entrepreneurship here in 2007. She was named as one of the Top 40 Under 40 Business School Professors globally by Poets&Quants in 2019.

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