Kristin Olson-Huddle was looking for sustainable, meaningful work, talking to everyone she could about their job. When she asked a friend from InsideTrack about coaching, the friend’s reply was “you’d be great on our team!” Kristin was feeling hopeful, when the friend asked her a question that gave her pause. “Do you have your college degree?” It had been many years since Kristin had taken a college class and she didn’t have plans to take any more. But the idea of coaching stuck with her. Eventually, Kristin enrolled in college and completed her bachelor’s degree. Before long, she was training to be a coach at InsideTrack.
That was 2010. And over the years, Kristin found that her experience as a non-traditional transfer student — coupled with the challenges of staying in school as a traditional student — gave her true insight into the challenges faced by the learners she coached.
For Kristin, coaching really clicked when she got comfortable coaching learners who asked questions she didn’t know the answers to or questions she wasn’t qualified to answer. “I realized it was a perfect opportunity for a coaching moment. So, if somebody asked me, ‘What opportunities will the job market offer after I graduate?’ I would state my role and include that I’m not an expert in job market trends. I let them know I could tell that was of key importance to them, so our next steps would be to work together to create a plan to get that information themselves.”
Today, even though Kristin is comfortable with so many areas of coaching, she never takes it for granted. “As a human and a coach, I bring unconscious bias with me into every conversation. I continue to invest in a combination of education, experience and connection to unpack that bias — it is paramount for supporting all the learners I work with.”
When Kristin’s not at work, she’s been known to use her background in storytelling to get on stage and participate in local story slams. A few years ago, she created a personal narrative solo show that she took on a brief tour. “I believe we are constantly making stories to help us understand our experience and make sense of the world. One of my favorite things is when I can capture one to share that resonates with others.” Kristin says storytelling also improves her coaching. “I love to tell stories in a coaching meeting. I find that a really great way to solidify a learning opportunity is to share it through a story.”
In a recent career coaching meeting, Kristin put this technique to use. She was working with a learner who was seeking a strategy to implement with a colleague with whom she had a history of conflict. Kristin’s learner was arguing that she was willing to go through the process of taking feedback, yet was not going to take it too seriously as she claimed she knew how to do her job. Kristin shared a story from a job she had at a summer camp. Midway through the camp, one of Kristin’s jobs was to type all the feedback forms from the counselors who worked directly with campers into one document so it could be reviewed in a meeting with the camp director the following day.
“Most of it was negative feedback,” Kristin recalls. “Honestly, as I was typing I didn’t take any of it too seriously. I just wanted to disregard the agitation I was feeling as I reacted to the feedback — and it wasn’t even directed to me.” The next day, Kristin was surprised to witness the camp director go through each comment thoughtfully, getting as much clarity on the concern as she could, then outline a plan for what would be different to improve each counselor’s experience at the camp.
So Kristin was able to use this experience to relate to her learner. “My initial reaction to feedback was to become defensive, as the feedback felt personal,” Kristin explained. Knowing this is all too common, Kristin wanted to show her learner an alternative. “It was an honor to share this story in a career coaching setting. That moment had such a big impact on me that it shaped the way I approached my professional interactions. I appreciated the opportunity to share it with someone who didn’t have her own model of how to receive and work with feedback and why it’s important.” And once again, life experience makes for a supportive learner connection.
“InsideTrack has a really strong coaching methodology that is the foundation for each coaching meeting. One of the most important elements of that methodology is that every individual is unique. It allows each coach to be able to pivot and deliver an impact relevant to the individual they are working with. It’s a nuanced connection that’s truly a joy to experience.”Watch Kristin's Coach Spotlight Video