A Career Coaching Model: ORCHID


A Coaching Model By Darshini Santhanam, Personal Coach, UNITED KINGDOM


Understanding my Target Audience

Mid-career professionals in the technology industry who are looking:

  • to transition to leadership roles.
  • change careers and transition into a new industry or field.
  • for more meaning from their work.

The first group of those looking to transition to leadership roles, this target group has several characteristics that make them a good fit for career coaching services:

  1. They are in a high-demand industry: The technology industry is growing rapidly and offers many opportunities for mid-career professionals to advance their careers.
  2. They are looking to transition to leadership roles: Many mid-career professionals in the technology industry have technical expertise but may need help developing the soft skills required for leadership roles.
  3. They may be feeling stuck in their careers: Mid-career professionals who have been working in the same job or at the same company for several years may be feeling frustrated or burned out and maybe seeking guidance on how to move forward in their careers.

Here are some general demographic characteristics that can be associated with mid-career professionals in tech:

  1. Age: Mid-career professionals in tech typically fall within the age range of 35-55 years old, but this can vary depending on the industry and specific company.
  2. Gender: The tech industry has historically been male-dominated, but there have been increasing efforts to promote gender diversity in recent years. However, men still make up a majority of mid-career professionals in tech.
  3. Ethnicity: There is also a lack of diversity in terms of ethnicity in the tech industry, with the majority of mid-career professionals in tech being White or Asian.
  4. Education: Most mid-career professionals in tech have a bachelor’s or advanced degree in a technical field such as computer science, engineering, or mathematics.
  5. Location: Tech companies are often concentrated in urban areas, such as San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, London, or Singapore. However, with the increasing options to work from home, I’m finding that tech company employees are based all over the globe.

I would like to focus on under-represented groups in tech, therefore I foresee that I’ll be spending my time working with women, people of color, and those who don’t usually have access to abundant coaching or mentoring platforms.

My Coaching Environment

I would like to operate in my own private practice. I will prioritize face-to-face meetings but will have many virtual options available to allow for busy professionals to have access to coaching without having to travel to the location or needing to be in the same city as me.

My Coaching Model: ORCHID

Orchids are one of the largest families of flowering plants, with over 25,000 species and more than 100,000 hybrids[1]. They come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, making them one of the most diverse groups of flowering plants in the world. Despite being so widely available with so many species associated with them, they remain a distinctive and unique flower – always enjoyed by anyone who receives them. I believe that the vast majority of people in tech will benefit by finding their own unique path, the way orchids find their own path to people’s lives.

Through career coaching, mid-career tech professionals can transform their careers by gaining clarity on their goals, identifying their strengths and development areas, developing leadership skills, and finding more meaning in their work.

  1. Orientation: This step involves identifying the client’s current career orientation, exploring their interests, skills, values, and personality traits, and understanding their career goals and aspirations. Once we understand the broad direction in which the client wants to proceed, we can move to the next stage.
  2. Research: This step involves conducting research on potential career options that align with the client’s orientation and goals, including job market trends, industry insights, and educational requirements.
  3. Connect: This step involves the client connecting with relevant professional networks, mentors, and industry experts who can provide knowledge, introductions, guidance, and support in their career journey.
  4. Habits: This step involves identifying and then developing positive career habits, such as effective networking, continuous learning, time management, and goal-setting, to enhance the client’s career prospects.
  5. Implementation: This step involves implementing an action plan to achieve the client’s career goals, including setting SMART goals, creating a career roadmap, developing a professional brand, and seeking out opportunities to gain relevant experience.
  6. Decision / Development: This step helps clients to make a decision about their career and take action towards their goals. In terms of development, it involves continually developing the client’s career skills and knowledge, assessing their progress, and making necessary adjustments to their career plan to ensure ongoing growth and success.

The ORCHID model can help clients to cultivate a fulfilling and rewarding career that aligns with their interests, values, and goals.

Using the ORCHID model on a Client

I leveraged this model with a pro bono client in the tech industry seeking direction in their career. We applied the model in the following way:

  1. Orientation: In this step, I asked the client questions about their current job role, their experiences in the tech industry, and their long-term career aspirations.
  2. Research: In this step, I encouraged the client to conduct research on potential career options in the tech industry that align with the client’s orientation and goals, including job market trends, industry insights, and educational requirements.
  3. Connect: In this step, I worked with the client to identify and encouraged connections with relevant people, organizations, and resources within the tech industry. This included networking with industry professionals, joining professional organizations, and attending industry events.
  4. Habits: In this step, I worked with the client to develop positive career habits that can enhance their career prospects in the tech industry. For example, I helped the client establish habits around learning, networking, time management, and stakeholder relationship building.
  5. Implementation: In this step, the client creates and implements a comprehensive career plan that outlines their short-term and long-term career goals, strategies for achieving those goals, and timelines for completion. Here, I evoked awareness around which specific skills the client needed to develop to achieve their objectives.
  6. Decision / Development: In this final step, I encouraged the client to build a cadence around regularly reviewing and updating their career plan to ensure that it remains relevant and aligned with their evolving career aspirations.

Overall, I found that the ORCHID model can be a useful framework for guiding a mid-career professional in the tech industry through the process of career development and goal-setting. It took us six different sessions over which we explored the model in parts.

By working through each step of the model, the client can gain clarity on their career goals, develop positive habits and strategies for achieving those goals, and continually update their career plan to ensure ongoing growth and success. I intend to use this again with my target group of clients.

Learn How to Create Your Own Coaching Model

Your Coaching Model reflects your values,
philosophies, and beliefs and must communicate who you will coach
and the problems you will solve.
Read more about creating your coaching model


[1] Source: https://www.aos.org/orchids/orchid-aceae-the-orchid-family.aspx

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