Life at DHG Podcast Series

Episode 72: Building Valuable Careers Through Coaching

In honor of National Coaching Week, we spoke with DHG’s own Tara Foster (Senior Manager, Coaching and Development) about what coaching means to her and how it can truly supercharge your career. In this podcast, you will learn about Tara’s background and her vision for coaching and building valuable careers.


Episode 72 Transcript:

AGH: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of our DHG podcast series. I’m Alice Grey Harrison, your host, and I love this venue because we get to hear about the things that matter the most to us – flexibility, careers, and people.

This is part of our “Listen and Learn” series about different aspects of DHG. About a year ago, if you recall, we began hearing more and more about coaching at DHG. This came with the roll out of our Performance Enrichment program, or as we affectionately refer to it, PEP.

In January of this year, Tara Foster joined the DHG team to continue building the momentum set forth by PEP. She is building out what coaching at DHG can mean for each of us individually and for our careers. It’s truly a gift to have someone like this dedicated to helping all of us supercharge our careers. I’ve had the honor of working with Tara very closely over the past several months and I’m super excited to introduce her to all of you. Welcome, Tara.

TF: Hi, Alice Grey, thanks so much.

AGH: As you and I talked, you began telling me bits about your background and I thought, wow, it’s amazing. I want others to understand your journey and what brought you to DHG. Before we do that, let’s begin with exactly what your role is. This is a new role, so this is one that people aren’t familiar with. Tell us about your role?

TF: Wonderful. I am so excited to be here. I love the culture here and am so excited to get started on this great work. I was brought in as the Senior Manager of Coaching and Development with the responsibility of developing a coaching culture at DHG while also administrating and improving the engagement with PEP. So it’s really understanding performance enrichment as a whole, the tools that support it, and how we can put legs underneath what we call a coaching culture – what that means and how we can live it and breathe it every day.

AGH: That is amazing. I mentioned that you have a really amazing career path yourself. Prior to joining the firm, what were you doing?

TF: Well, I have a very dynamic and nontraditional background for the position that I’m in now. Immediately prior to this role, I spent five years as an entrepreneur building a leadership development speaking business. I really focused on things that I wish that I had known earlier in my career. Not necessarily elements that would make me more successful, but would have made me more successful more quickly. So I really started speaking about topics underneath the umbrella of confidence. And I took on private clients as an executive and professional coach. I worked with folks to help them understand how they could tap into their confidence more frequently and use it to love the work they do or find work they love.

Now, immediately prior to that, I had a career in the financial services industry as well as consulting with those financial services firms. I think what’s really interesting is that people assume that I am a coach and a speaker and I focus on development because I have a background in HR. But in reality, I’ve done everything from SQL (Structured Query Language) coding to more recently in my corporate career, risk, and compliance with financial services. So I was getting to know the ins and outs of regulation and internal risk and risk audit. I tell people that I worked in the financial services industry, doing everything in the bank except actual banking.

AGH: That’s great. Speaking about risk and compliance. I think it’s fascinating that you have that in your background. That you’ve actually walked the walk and actually done the day-to-day work that many of our team members do and you have faced the stress that comes with working with clients. Tell me a little bit about how that translates into what you’re doing today?

TF: That is such a great question. I think a lot of what we think of when we think about risk and compliance are some actions and activities. For me, the risk and compliance work in all of the roles that I have been in really allow me to work on a three primary things that I love – strategy, process, and people.

When you think about issues that come through, especially related to financial regulations, you have to start with the question of what is the problem that we have today. From there, what do we want things to look like, and what are the steps that we have to take and boxes we have to check to make sure that we progress towards that ultimate goal.

When you translate that, in a process-minded approach, you can start to think about how you can map out your career. You think about your ultimate goal – where are you today and what are the practical steps you can take to get there? What do the steps look like now and what are the steps we need to take to get us through? The additional part for me is that along the way in that process, we are also thinking how does this affect me; how does this affect the people I work with; what are the downstream impacts; what are the requirements that may come down the road that might impact the steps that I put in place; and how flexible can I be?

So at the end, we don’t just have a product, but we have people around that product or that service or whatever that angle was, and the people around it come out whole. The people are satisfied and energized to do what is next.

AGH: Wow, very cool. So speaking of what’s next, I can’t help but ask, what can we expect to see in the next six months in terms of coaching at DHG?

TF: You know, Alice Grey, there is so much out there. You and I have talked about being so interested and energetic about all of the things that we could do. The hardest part of my job right now is staying focused on the right, next best step. So I love this question, and I think right now, I am still in this phase of understanding the firm, understanding the existing culture and what has come before me so that we can make the most efficient steps forward.

But at a high level, what I want for the firm is for us to be able to make coaching less intimidating, where we can more readily see, touch, and feel coaching in our environment. It really starts with understanding what coaching looks like in our culture and asking what our guidelines should be. We already have Client Experience guidelines, but can we make coaching more accessible if we think about it in the same kind of terms?

So what do those guidelines look like, and then understanding the pieces and parts of what coaching looks like at DHG and what feedback looks like. How does the long-term plan work into what coaching looks like at DHG? How do we then weave in the goals of the firm and my individual goals as one of the members of the firm? How do my notable contributions reflect those goals? Looking at how all of those things tie together.

So it’s understanding from the individual level to the team level and the firm level, what are our end goals? Where are we today and how can we help each other map out those process steps to get from here to there? From a practical perspective, that takes a lot of looking and listening. So we are doing things like this podcast. I want  people to know who I am and what’s going on.

There is a Yammer group out there for coaching and development. I have been posting articles that are relevant to coaching practices and creative ways to think about what coaching looks like at DHG. We are also going to start doing some listening tours to seek feedback from our team members on what they’re thinking about PEP – what they love and what is keeping them from engaging more.

And then the overall coaching culture here at DHG. What have our experiences been? What do we like, what do we want to see more of? And even feedback on how we want to see things change. So that will inform the planning that we do for the future. Right now, it is very high level but that feedback is going to help us make it relevant and specific to the members of our firm.

AGH: That’s fantastic.

TF: Yeah, we are really excited about that and really excited about looking, listening, learning, and figuring out how we step together towards what coaching looks like at DHG going forward.

AGH: Super. From that perspective, I also think just making it part of our everyday life and not something intimidating will be a great first step. Because I know for me, as an outsider, when I hear the word coaching, it automatically makes me feel like maybe I am doing something wrong. And that’s not the case at all, that’s not what coaching means. So I’m really excited about the work you’re doing, the perspective that you bring, and what it is going to do for all of us here at DHG.

TF: I am excited too, Alice Grey.

AGH: Thank you for joining us, and thank you all for listening to Life at DHG, our premier podcast series. If you like what you just heard, we hope you’ll tell your friends and colleagues. Be sure to check out our DHG blog for more great stories about our Life Beyond Numbers.

Join us next time for another edition of Life at DHG.