Creating a Fresh Start

This time of year provides an opportunity to assess where we are in life and to decide if we’re happy with our direction or need a course correction, which can be a good time to call in a coach. Let’s look at scenarios when a coach could be helpful. Two kinds of “fresh start” coaching cropped up a lot in my business last fall: 1. Women turning 50 looking for a new direction 2. On-boarding coaching in organizations WOMEN TURNING 50 In looking at the first group, for many women turning 50, they are seeing the end to the child-rearing years and the opportunity for time to refocus or discover set-aside passions and interests. They tell me they have been in “caretaker” mode for so many years they aren’t sure where to even start in crafting a new direction for themselves. This is a perfect scenario to get assistance from a coach. When starting with this type of client, I ask a lot of open-ended questions and then look for patterns. What keeps showing up? When I meet with my new client, I listen for the energy and excitement. One question that is particularly helpful in uncovering passions is, “When you aren’t concerned with what others think, what interests you?” Clients sometimes say they feel silly answering that question, but it very often opens the door to an area worth exploring. ON-BOARDING COACHING The second “fresh start” coaching is on-boarding, when someone joins an organization. Some companies have a formal on-boarding process, which can include an orientation and some initial meetings with the leadership team. Maybe someone remembers to ask the new person out to lunch. On-boarding is also known as organizational socialization. And while a new person usually acquires an understanding of the basic office parameters — dress code, work hours, etc. — when joining a new organization, it’s the subtle company culture that can be hard to figure out and can trip up the new employee. This past fall I had three calls from organizations where on-boarding coaching had not been provided. They were now in the uncomfortable position of having a relatively new team member either not meshing well with his or her team or the new employee was not performing at the level anticipated. The companies wanted to protect their investment of their new hires, but the new team members were discouraged. Switching to a story in a similar vein, my fellow coach and dear friend, Grace Menzel (, provided on-boarding coaching for a client of hers that made a tremendous difference to the woman, who was ready to quit her new job in frustration after only three months. This woman was smart enough to reach out to Grace and ask for help in crafting a game plan that would change her job dread into job enthusiasm. Together she and Grace developed a list of questions, a list of needs and a list of potential solutions. Grace supported her client to speak up and make requests of her new boss. That situation was salvaged, whereas my three calls from the fall did not fare as well. Two of the three new employees ended up leaving their respective companies; the third person is starting coaching this month. Employers don’t always see the need for on-boarding coaching until it’s too late. New employees need extra support and guidance as they integrate into a new work situation. Both sides would benefit from lots of communication, clear objectives for the first 90 days and possibly some outside help from a coach. Whatever fresh start you create this year, may 2013 be a happy, healthy year of success for you! Happy New Year. Susan Combs, MBA, is a credentialed coach and founder of Susan Combs Coaching & Consulting, a professional coaching and training firm with a special emphasis on facilitating corporate mentor programs. Susan lives in Lansing with her energetic 6-year-old son, Max. Susan can be reached at

Tags: Business coach, new starts, on-boarding, women over 50


Susan Combs

Susan Combs, MBA and Professional Certified Coach, works with coaching clients to create fresh starts, enhance their leadership skills and increase their confidence. She is an authorized licensee of the Fit Leader's Program. Susan provides one-on-one coaching, DiSC team-building training and manages corporate mentor programs. She lives in Lansing with her son, Max, and their golden retriever puppy. Visit or for more information.

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