Coaching the Young Client

26 min read

Vicki Foley and William Bergquist

Most of the professional coaching done today is with men and women who are in the midst of their lives—usually between ages thirty and fifty.  Though we know of no formal study regarding the demographics of coaching that would confirm this statement, it would seem to be true, given our own experience as coaches and the experiences of the many other professional coaches with whom we have contact. The focus on mid-life is quite understandable. These middle-aged men and women typically can afford a personal or life coach if they are in the middle class. They are also likely to be provided with support from their organization if the focus is on executive or leadership coaching, given that these men and women are likely to be at the peak of their career during these middle years.

Typically, those who are much younger do not yet have the financial resources to afford a personal coach and their position in the organization traditionally has not been sufficiently high to motivate an investment in their professional growth through organization-based coaching services. A similar case can be made for those who are past midlife. They usually have been more concerned with saving for later life than paying for a personal coach, and their organization is likely to consider an investment in a coach as unwise, given the shorter future tenure of these older employees and their unlikely advancement to a higher leadership position at this point in their career.

We propose that all of this is now changing. Young people in many fields are making very good wages. There is also an increasing interest among organizational leaders in the development of young employees—especially (as we will discuss later in this article) those who have been identified early on as “high potential.”  We also find that the length of active careers among older men and women are rapidly extending. Most of these late mid-lifers can conceive of an active life that continues well into their 70s. There is still much time for coaching and career transitions. With this extension in career length and recognition of the frequency with which mature men and women change careers, there is an emerging recognition that professional coaching can be a wonderful investment for organizations to make, given that their mature employees are likely to be working for many years.

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