The entrepreneur transforming corporate life

Kelly Fischl

After spending almost 10 years in corporate HR feeling unhappy and overworked, entrepreneur Kelly Fischl resigned and forged her own path in business, taking HR to a brand new level.

Coaching Ink is a coaching and HR consulting company that provides service specially catered to each individual or organisation.

Fischl founded the company with a desire to incorporate the essence of HR – people management and leadership development – within a specialised coaching framework.

“The business is based on the fact that we’re working in a different environment…and organisational leaders need to rethink the way they do things in order to retain their high performance, and that’s where we come in,” said Fischl.

“Our goal is to create high performing, flourishing and thriving individuals and organisations.”

Fischl explained that it was through her personal experience in corporate life that motivated her to forge her own path in business.

“I spent about a decade in corporate HR and I was the typical young go-getter, a high performer – I did a lot of long hours, never said no to anything, and did everything I could to climb up the corporate ladder,” she said.

“But it became overwhelmingly stressful and I was sick all the time, picking up every virus that went around the office. I wore myself down and lost my way.”

She took a break from her career to complete her Masters in Coaching Psychology when she discovered a new framework within which she could base her business.

“We’re different in that our coaches are really grounded in an evidence-based practice and we borrow from a number of different empirical techniques depending on what the client needs – for instance, we use solution focused coaching, mindfulness techniques, cognitive behavioural coaching, and many more. We tailor each approach to suit the client.”

“I’m proud that I’m following my passion. I gave up a great-paying job and stepped into the unknown, which was empowering and petrifying at the same time,” said Fischl.

While Coaching Ink has enjoyed numerous successes, there have been challenges to overcome.

Fischl said the biggest challenge has been to communicate to the target audience of the value of coaching, because leadership and performance coaching is still relatively new and unregulated.

“There are a lot of interesting practices that have been going on in coaching – where some people have practiced without any qualifications or any significant results,” said Fischl.

“This has led people to think that it’s not a reliable strategy for maximising performance in the workplace. But we’re different in that we incorporate techniques that have been well-researched and documented.”

Fischl explained that as a small business owner, sometimes it is difficult to have the motivation to conquer multiple roles.

“When you’re a small business owner, you’re also the marketer, the accountant, the social media expert … so staying energised and motivated to accomplish all that can be hard,” she said.

Fischl’s advice for business owners is to first and foremost look after their physical and mental health.

“Particularly if you’re a soloist, but even if you have a small business with a growing team, you really need to find a balance between your work life and personal life,” she said.

“There’s a lot of research out there that reveal what we all need for our brains can function at an optimal level. We need exercise, we need sleep, otherwise we won’t be able to perform at our best. Even professional athletes don’t train all the time, they actually take time to recover so they can perform at their peak. So it’s important for us to oscillate our energy between rest and recovery and work.”

She went on to explain how important it is to be resilient as a business owner, especially given that setbacks are inevitable.

“You have to grow a thick skin really quickly. I think when you have a business, you intrinsically link yourself to it, so when things aren’t going well in your business, you feel that you’re not doing well,” said Fischl.

“But everyone goes through highs and lows, so it’s important to not let yourself be defined by the success of your business. You can’t let your business dictate your life.”

Fischl’s top HR tips include:

  • Choose the right people
    • While labour costs are expensive, it is important to find people who can be trained to fit into the company culture. Odd cultural fits make workplaces an unpleasant environment.
    • Recruiting someone who is too similar to you can stifle creativity. You need to have a variety of different people who have different approaches to different challenges. This way the company can leverage different strengths and personalities.
  • Put engagement back onto the individual through conversation
    • Many companies have focus groups, actions plans, and the reality is that these are really lengthy processes that take up a lot of resources. Increasing engagement requires approaching it on an individual level. This means ensuring good conversations are taking place between leaders and employees.
    • Conversations should focus on competency – making sure everyone in the team has the resources to perform their role. Questions that need to be asked include: Are they getting constructive feedback on a regular basis? Do they feel confident that they can perform the role that is expected of them? If not, what kind of help do they need?
    • There should also be conversations around autonomy. People need to feel they have some sort of control over their destiny at work, so it’s important to encourage self-choice and self-control in projects.
    • Conversations need to go both ways. There needs to be openness and trust, and a non-judgmental relationship between the employer and the employee. A one-on-one meeting is not about the leader giving a great speech – it’s about the leader listening and asking the right questions. Rather than implementing a wide engagement initiative, conduct individual one-on-ones.

More information on Coaching Ink is available on the company website.

You can also follow Kelly Fischl on Twitter.