Senior lecturer, physics, NZ

What prompted you to try coaching?

I had been thinking about it before and had some discussion with Janet. She sent an email some time ago, and then it came back into my inbox and I thought, ‘Yes, I will give it a try.’ I needed to get better organised – and I think I’ve more or less succeeded!

Before you started, what was your main hesitation? Did you have anything that possibly would have held you back?

No. I didn’t really have a hesitation. The worst that could happen is that the status quo would remain. I had nothing to lose. I had money sitting somewhere in an account so I could use it. That is one thing at my institution that is really nice, that when you bring in some funding, they give you a bit of your overhead to start new research or something like that. So I thought it was a good use of that money.

Looking back, what would you say to a prospective client who might have a hesitation about starting coaching?

I’d say that you have nothing to lose – just give it a try. At the worst it doesn’t work. I don’t think you could be worse off; it can only be the status quo or better off. I would say, though, that you do need to be clear that you want to act. You need to recognise that there is an issue with the way that you work or how you behave and have a desire to change that.

What were some of the key issues or themes that you worked on with Janet?

We worked on time management, getting stuff done, and also self-confidence.

Did you make progress with those things?

I have made progress, definitely. Also it made me more aware of when I start falling back into bad habits. I am much more analytical about my behaviour, I have more self-awareness if I am getting off track and I can get back on track more quickly. That is a big plus for me.

Recognising that your achievements are 100% your own, do you believe the coaching was helpful? What difference did it make to have Janet in particular as your coach?

Before the coaching, I knew what was going badly but I didn’t really know how to cope with it. So I wanted to get the tools and also the confidence to use them. Not just confidence in the tools themselves. It’s also about overcoming the feeling that it might not be appropriate to set boundaries around what I do for other people or how quickly I respond to requests. Part of the problem is that so many others have these same difficulties, but nobody wants to recognise them. So beginning to set boundaries for the sake of time management isn’t only a matter of saying no sometimes, or asking people to wait, or being clearer about what you need. It’s also a departure from the group norm of operating without those kinds of boundaries. So doing this requires a lot of confidence.

What was it like to have Janet as a coach?

It felt very comfortable to talk to her. That was the thing, she was not judgemental at all, and she was really good at making sure that I felt in ownership of any achievement. It was really good because she was also sometimes recognising her own problems – she was not trying to be a perfect person.

I think what was really nice was that it was really natural. It was good because in some ways you kind of forget that you are paying someone to help you. It was like you were talking with a friend. Even though I was hiring her, in some ways I didn’t feel like that. It’s still a professional setting, but it felt natural.

Would you be comfortable recommending Janet’s services?

Yes, I have mentioned it already to some of my colleagues. I would recommend it to anyone who tends to take on more and more, especially non-rewarding, jobs. I am also sure I will use her again. That’s how I feel about having worked with Janet: de-cluttered, and you need that once in a while. Perhaps that wouldn’t be so if you could keep managing to make the time to reflect. Coaching is more than just reflection, but that is part of the value. If you are paying someone, you are much more likely to take the time for yourself to reflect and do what you need to get organised.