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5 Pitfalls Coaching Can Help Your Young Professionals Avoid

A while back, an unhappy Yelp employee wrote an open letter to her CEO about how she “couldn’t afford to buy food” while also lamenting the injustice of having to work in customer service “an entire year” (punctuation sic) before moving on to a more desirable role.

The post, and another Millennial’s cutting response, went viral. And for many, the whole public debacle was an opportunity to criticize Millennials for a whining sense of entitlement. But for others, it was an illustration that young professionals may need a little help developing their work-life skill sets.

Career coaching is one way to help those emerging leaders develop the chops they need to succeed and feel satisfied in the workplace. In fact, young professionals aren’t the only ones who could benefit from balanced perspective, now and again.

Whether you’re coaching emerging leaders or more seasoned employees, here are five key pitfalls that coaches can help your professionals avoid:

  1. “Let’s Burn This Bridge Down.” When a frustrated employee lacks the necessary coping skills, they may lash out in appropriate and sometimes very public ways. Coaches help employees problem-solve and have difficult conversations without jeopardizing their relationships and reputations.
  2. “This Is Never Gonna Work.” HR leaders in high-demand workplaces report that Millennial women (and some men) are quitting their jobs pre-emptively, before having children. These young professionals can’t envision how to blend their job and parenthood, so they’re walking away before it even becomes a conflict. Coaches will challenge those kind of perceived limitations and help employees see choices and options.
  3. “Woe is Me.” As the Yelp situation so clearly illustrated, a highly-stressed employee may feel like a victim with no power over their situation. Coaches help people beyond the victim mentality, exploring what they can control and influence.
  4. “You Say Jump, I Say How High.” Young professionals don’t always understand that deadlines and special requests can be negotiated. They say yes, again and again, because they believe that’s the expectation. Meanwhile, managers may be completely unaware that workload or project milestones are unrealistic. Coaches can give people the courage and the words they need to do what more confident, experienced professionals do all the time—negotiate priorities.
  5. “It’s You, Not Me.” In any life situation, it can be difficult to understand the difference between how we perceive ourselves and how others see us. If a professional is constantly bumping up against roadblocks, coaches can provide that unbiased, third-party perspective that helps build self-awareness.


Teresa Hopke is a principal of Life Meets Work, a workforce consulting firm that helps companies reimagine their workplace and transform the lives of their leaders, managers, and employees. The company specializes in flexible work, leadership pipeline development, and work-life coaching for working parents and emerging leaders.