Monika Salach is one of the coaches that we found this month and we did a little interview with her. She impressed us with her dedication, expertise and professionalism.
After a successful IT career, she transitioned to coaching due to burnout. Her challinging life experiences, from moving from Poland and studying in the US to raising her daughters alone, shaped her wisdom and coaching style.
Her approach is analytical, catering to IT professionals. She provides clients with logical thinking support and shares psychological research knowledge to help her clients avoid burnout and find clarity to reach their goals. Clients benefit from her practical problem solving approach and a safe, respectful environment.
She uses project management tools for career related issues. For job changes, she employs a “Lessons Learned” assessment, while a SWOT analysis helps clients consider career options, ensuring efficient, goal oriented coaching. Here is what she said.
Meet Life Coach Monika Salach:
Name: Monika Salach, ICF ACC
Pillar: The Mind
Who is this coach for: Analytical minds, IT and Tech Professionals.
How they can help: By using various tools and techniques like assessments, SWOT analysis, coaching from personal experience and guidance based on science based psychology.
First of all, how are you and your family doing after these Pandemic times?
I consider my family very lucky as far as the pandemic is concerned.
All vulnerable members of the family managed to avoid it altogether.
And the time I contracted the virus was one of the happiest times in the recent years.
It was Christmas of 2021, and my both daughters, who lived abroad, came to Poland with their partners to celebrate holidays.
We were supposed to stay together for 5 days, but it extended to 3 weeks after we all tested positive.
Despite the fact that they had not known each other before, came from 3 different cultures, and we were closed in the apartment, we spent this time in a wonderful, loving, family atmosphere.
How did the coronavirus pandemic affect your clients? Did it affect you at all?
At the beginning most of the clients enjoyed the fact that they can officially fully work rom home. It was already relatively common and very natural for many people working in IT.
But it turned out that after some time the rate of burnout rose even higher among them.
Full and forced separation broke the workplace community ties, increased number of (frequently too long and unnecessary) online video calls, and introduced “always on” work culture.
I think that the main result of the pandemic for me was a realization that we as humankind, with all our pride of civilization and science, have so little control over the nature.
For a long time, we were just unprepared and hopeless.
It was not a great discovery, but just a reminder that we can be hit in so many unexpected ways.
And, BTW, we are not good in protecting ourselves even if there are known risks.
What are the biggest lessons that you learned in this pandemic?
It may be a little surprising considering that I chose a coaching profession, but I am an introvert and I always believed I do not need many people around me.
But when the pandemic locked everyone in their homes, and I lived alone and abroad at that time, I learned that even I have hard time staying in a complete solitude.
It turned out that the face to face contact with my colleagues from the work, regardless how sparse it was, was vital for my well being.
If anyone asks.. yes, introverts make good coaches, because they are very good listeners!
Tell us about you, your career, how you started with your coaching career?
Up to not that long time ago, my path was straight.
I got my Master degree in IT and I started working first, as a software developer in a small company, then an architect and a team leader in a little larger.
And finally, a Project and Program manager in a corporation.
I hold an MSc degree in Psychology also done partially in parallel to the IT studies, but I just parked it and almost forgot about it.
Despite loving working in IT for many years, there came a time that I could not stand it any longer, only later I realized that I was burned out.
To get my head away from the work problems I took a coaching course, initially without an intention to change the career.
Very soon it occurred to me that moving to coaching would solve many problems in my professional life, not only allowing me to move out of the corporate world, but also find a meaning in helping people who find themselves in a similar position as I was in.
What was your biggest obstacle that you had to overcome in your life that made you who you are today?
There was not a single obstacle in my life that shaped me, but rather various experiences that built me piece by piece over the years.
The main impact of these experiences was opening me to the world, other cultures, and other people and making me fully independent.
I first moved with my husband from post socialistic Poland to study in the US, came back and had my daughters, divorced and raised my daughters alone, let them go and as an empty nester moved to UAE, and finally changed my profession to work as an independent coach and came back to Poland.
The Coaching Style:
How do you innovate with coaching your clients?
In coaching, no two clients are the same, but what they have in common is that they want to grow and need some support on this path.
It is a slow process, but it is important that it moves forward, and the same applies to the coach.
The coach is on a similar path to growth and a client is her or his support, sharing their own emotions, thoughts and experiences.
I do not introduce huge and sudden innovations, but rather small changes when I learn something new when working with a client.
It can be a question that helped them open up, an assessment that they reacted particularly well to, or just some suggestions from the feedback I ask for.
What’s unique about your coaching approach?
Due to my IT background, i.e. both personality that drove me to this industry, as well as many years of experience, I am very logical and analytical, and these are also the characteristic of my favorite clients: IT and Tech people.
If I were to summarize my approach, I would say that I support the clients in their thinking.
Also, especially while coaching clients with lack of motivation or burnout, I share the knowledge about these conditions based on the psychological research.
Obviously, I refrain from sharing any advice, but I believe that having solid knowledge helps people to address their problems more efficiently.
What benefits do your clients get after working with you?
As I already said, clients working with me get support in their analysis and decision making process with my rational and practical approach.
I’m super oriented on problem solving and tangible results.
But I also believe that I can offer a safe environment and build trust, where each client will be treated honestly and respectfully, regardless of their background and the issue they come with.
Do you use any specific tools to be efficient with your clients?
When a client is working with me on issues related to their career, let’s say, if they are not sure they are in a right place, consider changing job or profession, or they are looking for more meaning in their work…
I use tools from the project management to help the client look for answers and to serve as a base for our discussion.
I’ve found two particularly useful:
1. When a client is not happy with a current work situation, I ask them to do a sort of “Lessons Learned” assessment from the past job experience, i.e. write down job and tasks characteristics that lit joy and passion versus the ones that were unpleasant or bring.
2. When a client is considering various options for the next career steps, I propose to create for each of them a SWOT table, i.e. list their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
The further discussion leads to uncovering how to play strengths and opportunities, and how to bridge the gap in weaknesses, possibly planning some long term professional growth.
If you had a super megaphone that, when you speak into, the whole world will hear your message, what would you say?
BURNOUT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!
My knowledge about burnout was initially what everyone else knows… if you are an ambitions perfectionist then you tend to overwork, which can lead to burnout, with various mental and physical consequences.
To deal with it you have to rest, exercise, reduce workload, and meditate.
It is oversimplification in order to fit it in a single sentence, but it was more or less the message.
When I wanted to know more about burnout, I reached to the psychological research and papers and suddenly the image became different.
There are a few theories of burnout, but the most prominent, “Areas of WorkLife” by prof. Micheal Leiter and prof. Christina Maslach, says that burnout is a result of job and person mismatch, and is due to incompatibility of the employee expectations and the organization reality in six areas: workload, control, community, rewards, fairness, and values.
So, a person is not guilty of their burnout and they cannot “fix” themselves to overcome it.
Yes, some character traits can make a person more prone to burnout, and yes, taking care of one’s wellbeing by exercising, meditating and working less is always desirable.
But to really address and prevent burnout the triggers between an employee and an organization must be identified and addressed.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned in your life?
This answer will be short:
Be alert on the opportunities which stand on your path, because if you miss them, they will not come back.
Listen to your intuition, gather your courage, close your eyes and jump.
Your final thoughts?
What I am really happy about is that people more and more understand that they can reach for help and support in various aspects of their lives, regardless if they have a problem or strive to reach a huge dream.
It is never a sign of weakness, but manifestation of taking care of oneself with love and understanding.
And it does not matter if you select a psychotherapist, a coach, an AI chatbot, or everyone at the same time, you just deserve the best life you can get, do not wait for it.
Where Can You Find Monika Sałach?
If you liked this interview and if you would love to see how Monika can help you avoid burnout and find balance as an IT, go to https://supportbymonika.com/ and discover your next step.
If you would like to learn more aobut Monika’s coaching, follow her Instagram.