Pro Bono Coaching: Ezra’s “Pay It Forward” Program
Ezra Coaching's COO Jack Prevezer talks about the new pro bono coaching initiative and doing something to help manage challenging times during the pandemic.
The Beatles once famously told the world that we’d all get by with a little help from our friends. That has never been truer than now.
Across the vast breadth of Ezra’s client base – which extends across 51 countries and 21 time zones – we have been an active, front-line partner helping people and the companies they work for survive the disruption caused by COVID-19.
Early on in the pandemic, however, we realized that some of the most burdened people – HR professionals – were so busy taking care of people in their organizations, they had no one and no time to care for themselves. So, we took a chance and offered them one month’s free coaching.
When it was all said and done, we were able to help more than 1,000 HR professionals from 700 companies in 31 different countries. The results were so overwhelming, we’ve decided to do it again.
We’re calling this new program “Pay it Forward.” We approached all of the HR professionals we helped in our first iteration and asked them to nominate two other leaders at any level or their organizations who could use some coaching support.
Our strategy is pretty simple: we wanted to provide that extra level of help to front-line leaders chiefly responsible for managing change in a pandemic context. Leaders who, because of COVID-19, have been asked to take on new and (in some instances) radically different responsibilities. A year ago, nobody had a “pandemic response manager” in their org chart. Now, new job titles with important new responsibilities are springing up all the time.
These new jobs, and the new array of tasks that they involve, are pretty stressful. Remember, this isn’t just about figuring out how to hook everybody up from home-based offices to the VPN without it crashing. This is work that is focused on keeping people safe and engaged, so that companies can make it through to the other side of the pandemic. In other words, the stakes could not be higher.
If our experience in the first go around is any indication, the candidates in the Pay It Forward program will benefit tremendously with the pro bono coaching. In the first iteration, candidates told us that their coaching sessions were “powerful and affirming.” Others noted that being able to work closely with a coach was a “life-altering experience” that has helped many of them “think differently” about their jobs in these challenging, surreal times.
It’s important as well to recognize the individual coaches who are donating their time to both iterations of our pro bono program. We are so lucky to be part of the LHH network, which gives us access to hundreds of certified coaches who operate on every continent and in just about every imaginable language. In the midst of doing heroic work with their regular clients, they’ve taken on new pro bono clients with enthusiasm and dedication.
Can a month’s worth of empathy and emotional support build hope in the face of this profound challenge? We don’t want to overstate the value of what we’re doing, but we do take some comfort in the fact that the people we’ve already helped through our pro bono program believe that it has made a huge difference.
We know that for many people who are trying to manage the relentless change that comes with a pandemic, things seem hopeless. We’ll also own up to the fact that our well-meaning gesture may seem insignificant in the face of the size of the challenges we’re facing right now.
But to borrow once again from the Beatles, at the very least we’re going to try. With a little help from our friends.