There is a new trend for the workforce — life strategists — and many companies and employees are welcoming it. Companies retain life strategists to do weekly calls with employees as a sort of “perk,” and it is all confidential. Employees get to discuss privately whatever issues or ideas are on their minds and do a “brain dump.” They may also decide to work on a personal goal.
And companies are footing the bill because it’s a perk that helps employees with the ongoing blurred work and life balance lines brought on by Covid-19 and the new remote and hybrid workflows. To this end, for some companies, I’ve observed that life strategists are the new coaches.
The Purpose Of A Life Strategist
McKinsey advocates for digital leadership trainees getting coached. It is an opportunity for them to look within. For example, a case study suggests McKinsey’s own leadership academy incorporates the idea of coaching for employees because it helps them develop a coaching mindset in their digital online training.
According to McKinsey, the effect of a coaching mindset helps employees increase empathy in an unresolved challenging conversation and practice delivery for an upcoming communication. And it is this mindset that benefits both companies and employees.
There may be a life change the client is thinking about taking, but their thought process has them going around and around in a loop. Where the strategist steps in is in identifying the facts, the feelings and the thoughts and helping the client see how this process is stumping their action. So often the thoughts and feelings behind an action lead to the result (or the lack of a result). A life strategist can help cut through the BS and identify where the process keeps stalling.
The strategist can also help talk through tools to live in a solution-based approach. However, this communication shouldn’t be confused with therapy.
Three Ways To Engage With A Life Strategist
1. Employees at all levels can meet with a life strategist during work via phone, Zoom or in person. This resource can allow them to not worry if what they share will impact their jobs, as it shouldn’t. Meeting with a life strategist should be the choice of the employee, and it can go beyond a safe space to an empowered space.
2. Company leaders can turn to life strategists to identify and work through performance goals. Having a weekly session with a strategist ensures staying on task and taking productive next steps. The life strategist should hold the leader accountable and motivate them to take action. Together they can talk through the next steps and make weekly progress. It’s like having an accountability buddy with strategic wiring.
3. Life strategists can also be available to employees outside of work. Anyone wanting to make a change can hire a life strategist to work one-on-one with. Sessions can be work-related, or even relationship- or family-related. Each week the client shares, the life strategist can be the active listener, and then together they dive into strategic action items to help the employee move forward. Whatever the intended goal, the strategist and client team uncover what needs to get done and work on getting it done. The employee can feel supported at all times.
Best Practices For Working With A Life Strategist
Companies can keep life strategists on retainers to be available to leaders and employees for a set number of hours per week, month or year. The process can encourage growth with both work and life issues.
What can you expect? Expect to meet for an hour during your first meeting and think of it as a get-to-know each other safe space. Key work topics are typically addressed such as: Where did you come from, what work are you doing now, what are your expectations for work in the future. And most importantly, where are you feeling stuck? It is okay not to have the answers to where you are going, as this is the main goal of working with your strategist, and it will be revealed through the process.
Common questions that life strategists may ask clients include: Why now? What brings you to this moment? What is your intention for the process? And, is there anything that is holding you back from being willing, committed and honest? This is an important question to level-set because it shows if the client is truly ready to dig in.
How does it work? Clients, employees and executives get the most out of their time with a life strategist when they are ready to create new impact. There is a level of openness and willingness that needs to be in place in order to truly take in the conversations. Ideally, an hour per week for a year could bring a really high level of success, but a three- to six-month weekly life strategy collaboration works well, too, if the client is ready to dig in and do the work.
Professional And Personal Growth
Life strategy is for anyone who wants to make a change, stop being invisible and show the world who they are. Being available as a life strategist in addition to my role as a CEO, I’ve noticed that too often people freeze in work, which stops them from taking important action. Coaches can remind you that you deserve to be where you are and own your power, your voice.
The aim is to inspire all employees to embrace a coaching culture by adopting a forward-thinking attitude, which encourages collaboration with peers to find solutions. These are all essential tools for effective communication and are all good for business and people’s home lives, too. Deloitte, for example, uses a coaching company mindset that includes intention, trust, openness, respect and communication. It’s used to stimulate both personal and professional growth.
Many companies are embracing the life strategist offering to show employees they are valued. And that’s one way that businesses can help their leaders and employees live their best lives.
Beth Jannery is founder of Titan Strategic Communication and advises about Strategic Communication and Workforce Trends for high-growth clients.
Read Beth Jannery’s full executive profile here.