Coach in the Spotlight: Nick Harris

In our Q&A, Nick Harris shares his experiences of building a successful career coaching business and how he's attracted clients from across the globe, including CEOs, graduates and people working in war zones.

 

What’s the background to your coaching practice?

I was a teacher for twelve years before I transitioned to a corporate environment.

My passion has always been in people development, so I jumped at the opportunity to be trained as a professional coach while I was working for BT. I realised then that coaching was the thing I wanted to do.

I took redundancy 15 years ago and set up my coaching practice, initially working with professionals through corporate coaching workshops.

I expected it to take a year or two to build a thriving coaching practice, but it happened on day one!

The contacts I had meant I became fully booked straight away and found myself doing coach training in organisations, facilitating courses at a management school, and coaching individuals privately.

Those first few years were hectic! 

 

I expected it to take a year or two to build a thriving coaching practice, but it happened on day one!

 

What challenges were you facing, specifically around career coaching?

I was asked continuously about career coaching, but I didn’t feel well-equipped for it.

I was a credible coach, but I didn’t necessarily have the confidence that I could competently coach people on career-related topics.  

 

Why did you decide to invest in the Firework programme?

There was an apparent demand for career coaching, but I needed to build my confidence in providing a tangible outcome and a toolkit to work with.

Then I happened to speak to a friend who’d done the Firework programme and felt it would give me exactly what I needed.

 

What was the best aspect of the Firework course for you?

The Firework programme is a robust method, and it gave me the confidence to take these new tools and incorporate them into the approach I was already using.

It was also great to interact with other coaches on the programme, and it was reassuring to know that I wasn’t alone in some of the challenges I had been experiencing.

Exploring these issues in a safe environment with the other coaches and trainers was invaluable.

 

It was reassuring to know that I wasn’t alone in some of the challenges I had been experiencing.

 

How have you built your coaching business? What have been the most effective ways you’ve found clients?

I built my business initially through running coach training workshops to senior and middle managers in organisations. I also worked as an associate coach and facilitator with various organisations.

Then I developed my own website, got listed on various directories, built up a social media presence and got myself interviewed on local radio.

Once I had established a media presence, the most effective ways for me to find clients have been by recommendation and word of mouth which has taken a few years to build up.

Becoming qualified as an ICF MCC coach has also helped to establish my credibility.

 

What did you implement as a result of what you learnt?

Initially, I would take clients through the whole programme from start to finish.

I quickly discovered that, for me, the best approach was to adapt it and use the materials to support each client’s agenda.

What I have as a result of Firework, is a vast armoury of resources that I can select from and adapt according to the individual client’s requirements.

 

Who do you work with and on what areas?

I work with a broad range of clients from CEOs in international companies and charitable organisations, to people working in warzones, those who are just starting out in their careers or people returning to work after a career break.

This diversity and the unique nature of the work I do keeps things very interesting!

I truly enjoy coaching clients on a one to one basis because it involves working at a deeper emotional level with the client.

While many people might come to me for career coaching, we often end up exploring other aspects of their life because they're all connected.

The initial problem that a client may present, such as wanting to change careers, often isn’t where the blockages are. Coaching helps to raise those other issues to the surface and to recognise the unhelpful patterns of behaviour, beliefs or attitudes that are getting in the way or keeping them stuck.

If it were as simple as reading a book or getting some guidance, people would be capable of sorting out their problems for themselves, but coaching helps them to shift their perspective and find new solutions, which is far more powerful.

 

If it were as simple as reading a book or getting some guidance, people would be capable of sorting out their problems for themselves.

 

Tell us more about how you typically work with your clients.

I usually work with clients on a one to one basis, by phone with occasional video conferencing and face to face coaching.

Some of my clients are long term, with a few going back ten years or more, and several are international.

Typically we'll work together for six to twelve 60 minute sessions.

Normally clients buy a package of six sessions which constitutes a programme; however, I draw on and adapt resources so that they are relevant to each client's individual requirements rather than following a set programme.

 

How has Firework influenced your work?

When I decided to invest in the Firework programme, it was a critical time in my business because I wanted to provide a credible offering for career coaching.

Firework helped me to shape and build my practice, giving me the confidence to channel myself in that direction and providing me with a solid foundation for career coaching.

Very often, the initial focus might be their career. Still, it will broaden out beyond that because if they’re struggling with relationships at work, for example, they’re probably struggling with relationships elsewhere.

I enjoy working with people at a deeper level to unblock whatever is getting in the way so that they can be free to develop their potential.

As long as they are committed to making a change, I will work with anyone and on whatever agenda shows up.

Some of my coaching relationships are long term, and it’s rewarding to see how the impact of coaching is playing out in their lives and their careers over time, seeing them go from middle management to CEO level, for example.

My clients will attribute their ability to get those promotions or their success in part, to the work we’ve done together.

Coaching builds their confidence and self-belief but also clarifying their strengths and their achievements, and being able to communicate those confidently to hiring managers and leaders.

 

I enjoy working with people at a deeper level to unblock whatever is getting in the way so that they can be free to develop their potential.

 

What results have you helped your clients to achieve?

I’ve coached a variety of individuals in areas like career development, coping with redundancy, making a career change, managing anxiety or stress and those returning to work after a career break.

Very often, I speak to people who are miserable in their job or are unhappy with where they are, but they don’t know what to do. They also don’t see that they have choices because a lot of people are afraid of having an awkward conversation.

Invariably, when you have that conversation, it’s not as hard as you first thought but the fear gets in the way.

Therefore, often the focus for coaching is around building their confidence.

Using some of the Firework tools, I can help them reconnect to their strengths, their expertise and their capabilities because often people can lose sight of what they’ve achieved in the past.

I’ve enabled my clients to be more confident in their approach at work, whether that’s looking for a promotion, finding their next step or having an assertive conversation with their manager.

I show them an alternative perspective, challenge their thinking and help them to recognise that they have choices that didn’t seem possible before.

Sometimes it’s not about changing the job, it might be more about starting a tricky conversation, but first, they need to have clarity on what it is that they want and this is where Firework tools are so useful.

 

A lot of people don’t see that they have choices because they're afraid of having an awkward conversation.

 

What would you estimate your return on investment to be from taking part in the Firework programme?

It only took me 1 or 2 clients to recoup the initial outlay.

For me, becoming a licensed Firework coach was a no-brainer because within a month the course had paid for itself.

 

What resources do you have that support you in your coaching role?

I draw on a vast array of resources, including the Firework materials, of course.

I'm also trained to undertake various psychometrics including Type Dynamic Indicator (MBTI), Emotional Intelligence profiling which I use extensively, and 360 degree feedback tools.

I also use an extensive library of exercises, articles, films, podcasts, Ted Talks, poems, books and so on.

 

Who do you feel would benefit most from the Firework career coach training programme? Why?

Almost any coach could benefit. If you look at the coaching market, most people want support with their careers in some shape or form.

All coaches are going to benefit from having those Firework tools and the confidence that when their client wants to have a conversation about career, they are in a position to be able to support that client fully. I’d recommend Firework to any coach.

 

If you look at the coaching market, most people want support with their careers in some shape or form.

 

What advice do you have for any prospective Firework career coaches?

Don’t overthink it too much.

To get the best out of the programme, you should have some initial coach training. You also need to have some idea of what coaching is all about as well as some experience working with clients that you can bring in to the training day.

If you’re considering becoming a Firework coach, it would be easy to doubt yourself or assume that you don’t have enough experience.

Manage that voice inside your head that might be saying “you’re not good enough for this” and don’t hesitate because you’ll learn so much through Firework.

 

Nick is a Firework licensed career coach, a coach supervisor and a member of the International Coaching Federation and accredited at the organisation’s highest level as a Master Certified Coach. He is married with three grown-up children and lives in a cottage near the Suffolk coast which connects him with his love of the countryside and passion for the sea. Find out more about Nick at www.career-discovery.co.uk.