A Coaching Model Created by Paul Chang
(Coach for the Working Millennial, CANADA)
Through a study of millennials’ general characteristics and traits (the research paper can be found here), some concepts emerge that are critical when connecting with millennials, particularly in the context of coaching. These concepts form the basis of the ‘5A Model for Coaching Millennials’ and are explored in detail below. It is important to note that the ‘A’s are not linear – any component of the model can, and should, be exercised at any time during a coaching session.
Being a part of a generation that values individuality, the best gift that coaches can offer to their millennial clients is for themselves to be authentic. The priority placed by millennials on individuality and diversity means that millennials no longer tolerate lip service or fakery – they value authenticity and being genuine in others. They can often exercise their intuition, be in tune with those people who are genuine and pick up on those people who put up a façade.
For the coach, it is important to exercise self-awareness and have a full understanding of who they are themselves, in order to be able to present their whole, genuine self to their clients. Therefore, much of the work done by a coach that will be the most helpful for the client is to get to know themselves and to present themselves wholly and truthfully.
One of the most important things that are required in a coaching session is the foundation of trust between the client and the coach. For the millennial generation, this level of trust can only be achieved if the coach is completely accepting of who the client is. In addition to valuing authenticity, the millennial generation (that is more diverse than other generations) readily offers acceptance and respect to those different to themselves, and expect the same level of acceptance and respect back. For millennials, this is a fundamental belief that they hold, and will be the basis on which they choose to engage with a coach.
In coaching, to offer a space that is free from judgement and bias is critical for the coaching relationship to be one built on trust and openness. This space allows the client to be whoever they are, to express whatever they want, and to explore whichever direction they choose. In order to achieve this, the coach must exercise mindfulness – to be aware of their own judgements, biases, feelings and emotions during the coaching session. The coach’s ability to transcend beyond these judgements and biases will be instrumental in allowing the millennial client to place full trust and confidence in the coach.
Millennials are motivated to learn more about themselves. They want to discover who they truly are, and they are not opposed to dedicating time and energy to achieving this goal. They also want to improve, become better at what they do, be more efficient and proficient. They want to know the purpose of their actions, their careers, and their lives. Many millennials are not content with the unexamined life, and instead, choose to take time to “find themselves”.
A coach who is invested in millennials must exercise the skills of powerful questioning and direct communication awareness in order to build the client’s awareness. For these clients to be willing to progress and grow, they first require a deep understanding of themselves – of who they are and where they want to go, and most importantly – why it is important to them. The coach must use his or her intuition to see beyond the current state and help the client develop more awareness of themselves and when this occurs, the client will be free to pursue growth.
During a coaching session with a millennial client, the coach must be aware of the progress that their client is making and acknowledge accordingly. Millennials, as discussed in the prior section, require and expect clear, honest and open feedback. Particularly when connecting with those in positions of respect – coaches, mentors, managers – millennials do not want authoritative figures telling them what to do or how to do them. Rather, they expect feedback on how they are performing, and how they can improve.
For the coach, exercising the tool of offering acknowledgement will be the critical success factors that enable progress for millennial clients. Because millennial clients expect and require a certain quality and quantity of feedback, coaches will do well by keeping this front-of-mind during a coaching session: highlighting when the client has made progress; pinpointing when the client has had a change of energy; noting the work and effort that the client has put in; observing when the client has made a perspective shift. These will be immensely helpful in keeping the client motivated and willing to progress through their coaching journey.
One of the most important motivators for millennials to act is the purpose of the action. Research on millennials, particularly in the context of engaging them in the corporate setting, consistently show that they need to understand the bigger picture, the vision or background before taking on tasks. They are no longer “yes” people as prior generations tend to be; they are now “why” people. The excellent communication skills that millennials possess are beneficial in this process, as many would leverage these skills to help them garner the information required for them to progress in their careers, lives, and other projects that they choose to adopt.
Once the millennial client understands the purpose and the direction in which they are aiming, they are ready for action. Coaches, therefore, have a responsibility to ensure that clients keep these in mind when they are developing their own course of action so that their actions are aligned to the direction and purpose that they had intended. The coach’s skill in helping the client with goal setting and designing actions will be critical for the client to gain fulfilment and accomplishment from the coaching session, as well as to move beyond their problem to a more productive, positive and constructive state of being.