WHY A BUSINESS COACH

Business coaching:

THE DECISION MAKING PROCESS

I have yet to come across a business owner who is not interested in increasing revenue and profits while simultaneously improving their leadership skills, employee engagement, teamwork and staff retention.

Question

If the above statement is true, why is everyone not doing business coaching?

  • When a business owner recognises that the issues are either with themselves, their staff or, more broadly, with other issues in the business, what is going on that prevents them from embracing business coaching as a key option for themselves and the Improvement of their business?
  • What reason could a business owner offer for turning down the opportunity to have a positive impact and influence on their workplace?
Answer

The devil, as always, is in the detail.

Small to medium-sized businesses often find themselves in a situation, either due to their own internal challenges or to those beyond their control, where generally, budgets have been cut and the idea of investing money into personal development, leadership skills and improving the company's performance is often not considered a priority.

Considering all the things on your to-do list, the idea of engaging a business coach is not likely on your list of key strategies when considering ways on how to improve your own skills, or your company's effectiveness. But perhaps it should be.

However, for the motivation to take hold, owners need to recognise that a problem exists - this would seem to be obvious, but as most small business owners are so heavily involved in running their businesses, they fail to recognise this.

Defining

BUSINESS COACHING

It is a highly confidential relationship, not unlike a partnership, between a coach and a client. It is designed to achieve outcomes on issues both interpersonal and intrapersonal (e.g. vision, action planning, teamwork). In the case of SME business coaching, it is important that the personal outcomes for the business owner are aligned to the strategic direction that is required by the company. These factors normally include learning, behaviour change, increased productivity and achieving job satisfaction. Coaching is also different to therapy as it assumes that the client has no mental health issues. The coaching relationship can be viewed as a partnership in the sense that the coach does not exercise authority over the client.

A second definition is that it is a helping relationship between a client who (in the SME segment) owns a company which he manages and has overall responsibility for, and a business coach who uses tools, methods and behavioural techniques so that the client can achieve their identified goals by having improved their professional performance and personal satisfaction. In so doing, the client’s company is more effective. This process is all done within a formal and defined agreement.

Ultimately, it is a one on one relationship between a client and a professional business coach, intended to increase and strengthen the clients behavioural change by promoting self-awareness and learning, which in turn leads to success for the client and their company.

Do you want to go from managing your business to leading a company?

Why do some owners recognise a need for business coaching and others not?

Considering the amount of people who actively inquire about coaching services and those who simply express the desire to have coaching, it could be perceived as perplexing as to why so few business owners actually end up engaging a business coach.

Understanding and accepting that there is a financial commitment, and the need for owners to commit their valuable time, it still does not account for the large discrepancy of enquiries versus people who ultimately engage a business coach.

My own experience has shown there is no benefit in approaching clients and trying to persuade them to do coaching unless they understand and appreciate, for themselves and to themselves, that it is a necessary step. At its most basic level clients have to move through the levels of:

1.

Becoming aware of the need to have coaching

1.

Becoming aware of the need to have coaching

2.

Understanding that there is a need but realising they are not doing anything about it

2.

Understanding that there is a need but realising they are not doing anything about it

3.

To the final step of taking action and engaging a business coach

3.

To the final step of taking action and engaging a business coach

For clients to move through the steps, I believe at least one of the following conditions need to be met, namely:

1.

The company (management and staff) are at a point when change is obviously needed. Everyone inherently recognises that the current situation is not sustainable, e.g. lack of leadership, no clear strategy, culture or vision.

1.

The company (management and staff) are at a point when change is obviously needed. Everyone inherently recognises that the current situation is not sustainable, e.g. lack of leadership, no clear strategy, culture or vision.

2.

When the situation within the company allows or lends itself for the process to take place; this includes financial readiness (be it availability or commitment to the spend), staff willingness (they are committed to helping the owner or leader in the coaching process) and the commitment of the owner to spend the required time doing what is required from the process.

2.

When the situation within the company allows or lends itself for the process to take place; this includes financial readiness (be it availability or commitment to the spend), staff willingness (they are committed to helping the owner or leader in the coaching process) and the commitment of the owner to spend the required time doing what is required from the process.

3.

The company does have a strategy in place but unfortunately external issues impact the company, throwing the strategy into chaos and forcing the owner to respond to the threat. These external events require owners to have multiple perspectives so that they can adapt to the circumstances and they understand the need for business coaching to provide this.

3.

The company does have a strategy in place but unfortunately external issues impact the company, throwing the strategy into chaos and forcing the owner to respond to the threat. These external events require owners to have multiple perspectives so that they can adapt to the circumstances and they understand the need for business coaching to provide this.

Of course, once the clients get to the point of understanding a need exists it does not mean that the process is complete. There are still hurdles to overcome, which focus on more practical and cognitive matters.

  • Understanding about the nature of coaching.
  • How do I find the right business coach?
  • Get ready psychologically. How open and honest and aware are they of themselves?
  • Don't want to feel vulnerable. They need to know they will be safe.
  • Must want to change.

That said, the notion of engaging coaches to improve individuals’ performances (think sport) has been successfully used for a long time. As for business coaching, initially it was a tool used predominantly to correct underperformance, whereas now it is used to enhance the abilities of leaders and staff. By extension, tangible benefits include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Better quality of work
  • Improved customer service
  • Improved relationships between staff and management
  • Greatly improved relationships with stakeholders, e.g. suppliers
  • Improved teamwork
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Reduced conflict across the company

Coaching takes various formats

Once the owner acknowledges that issues do exist, IE a need has been established - the majority of business coaching involves either one, or numerous, of the following formats:

1.

Often clients simply ‘do not know what they do not know’. Ascertaining what the ‘gap’ is, is a particularly important function of business coaching. Once established, coaching helps clients develop these skills, along with the abilities acquired to implement these skills.

1.

Often clients simply ‘do not know what they do not know’. Ascertaining what the ‘gap’ is, is a particularly important function of business coaching. Once established, coaching helps clients develop these skills, along with the abilities acquired to implement these skills.

2.

Coaching a client to improve specific task/s that lead to more effective overall performance of the company. This tends to involve focussing on leadership and management competencies, for example, communication of the company’s vision, understanding strategy decisions, or the ability to challenge the processes that need to change.

2.

Coaching a client to improve specific task/s that lead to more effective overall performance of the company. This tends to involve focussing on leadership and management competencies, for example, communication of the company’s vision, understanding strategy decisions, or the ability to challenge the processes that need to change.

3.

Helping clients develop individuals or teams in the company, whether it be for current circumstances or the development of a future role. This includes: knowing how to recognise issues that are not necessarily prevalent or spoken about, and the various methodologies available to assess and review staff performance and wages.

3.

Helping clients develop individuals or teams in the company, whether it be for current circumstances or the development of a future role. This includes: knowing how to recognise issues that are not necessarily prevalent or spoken about, and the various methodologies available to assess and review staff performance and wages.

4.

Business coaching often needs to go beyond the need of a specific individual, normally the business owner, to encompass discussing wide ranging issues involving the company’s mission, its desired cultural outcome, short- and long-term vision and the capabilities and limitations that are required to meet these expectations.

4.

Business coaching often needs to go beyond the need of a specific individual, normally the business owner, to encompass discussing wide ranging issues involving the company’s mission, its desired cultural outcome, short- and long-term vision and the capabilities and limitations that are required to meet these expectations.

I started and ran my own businesses successfully for 30+ years. Having ‘been there’, I truly understand the numerous issues confronting my clients. My experience and expertise in ‘start-ups’ across different industries, growing them into viable companies and then exiting them successfully, can definitely help you to greater success in your business.

 

- Evan Goodman

The reason SME owners want

BUSINESS COACHING

The largest segment of SME clients who engage business coaches want to increase their knowledge and skills, develop and understand their roles, and to be held accountable by someone who has experience; a guide, someone who really understands what they need. It is not uncommon for clients to say “I am good at my business and the business grew and developed over time, and then one day I realised that I don’t know all the things about business I thought I knew’. In other words, they realise they “don’t’ know what they don’t know”.

These business owners then seek experienced business coached so that they can work with them to achieve milestone and business goals. In the process they want the appropriate business coached to pass on their experience and knowledge and skills. The other major factor for engaging a business coach is because most SME owners are not able to discuss their issues and problems with others in an objective manner. They feel isolated, often lonely, and rely on a business coach to be their sounding board and to give them feedback.

There is also the expectation that business coaching leads to business growth. Up to half of SME owners do attribute their business growth to coaching and put it down to the contribution, experience and guidance they received while most also agreed that growth comes about because they felt the coaching environment allowed them to consider other prospective and options. It is not uncommon the hear comments like “I was forced to really look and evaluate my business. I had to reassess many things and get clear about my goals. It’s hard because to look at my business goals I had to look at my personal goals also because I realised the personal issues is what got me into business in the first place. My family, my kids’ future, and the time I want to spend with my family”.

The notion of being motivated by an external ‘guide’, for the pursuit of ‘their dreams’, is also often cited by clients as being a significant reason for their business growing.

What is needed to ensure a successful

BUSINESS COACHING OUTCOME

There are numerous surveys and studies done as to the ‘secret ingredient’ that allows for a successful coaching relationship. The list below is quite specific, but ultimately, they all fall under the umbrella of what is effectively the ‘coaching relationship’. It is likely this relationship is not simply a major component of whether coaching is successful or not, it appears to be the most important one, and hence has implications for both the client and coach.

These factors underlie that business coaching ultimately bring you (the client), the option of having someone who is really there for only you, that they believe in you and can encourage you so that you can achieve your outcomes and goals. The coach walks the fine line between supporting and challenging you and when long after coaching has ended, and you look back at the coaching experience, it is not only the tools or the frameworks it provided but the warm feeling of regard that was present in the relationship,

For business owners, in the SME space, these seems factors below are the prerequisite for successful business coaching outcomes.

The top 5 characteristics clients look for in a business coach

  • Clear communication
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Has experience in my industry
  • Challenging but supportive
  • Displays acceptance of me

The top 5 factors clients believe are important for the achievement of successful outcomes in business coaching

  • Coach displays an acceptance of me (respect and empathy)
  • The coach is calm (considers and understand the complexities going on for the client)
  • The coach displays self-confidence (authentic)
  • The coach is organised
  • The coach has experience in my industry

Characteristics that define a successful coaching relationship

  • The ability for the client and coach to form a strong connection with each other
  • Professionalism by all parties
  • Demonstrating a clear and sound methodology

Coaches’ style and frameworks

These three characteristics can be summarised by feedback from clients who have been through the process. Most believe that their business coaching was:

  • a structured process
  • consisted of telling the truth
  • that they received strong feedback

What should you,

A FUTURE LEADER,

commit to?

BE SPECIFIC

If you do not clearly define your goals and identify actions that will lead towards these goals, you will not experience change. The business coaching process should always be driven, throughout the process, by focus and clear intent.
Business owners need to develop goals which are relevant and specific to the context of their business - it is a critical part to achieve exceptional outcomes.
Business coaching helps clients turn their attention, energy and time towards individual behaviours including ways to make cultural change in their company, allowing for a detailed and precise process which is likely to result in positive outcomes for the owner/s, and all the staff.

EMBRACE THE WILLINGNESS TO CHANGE

There are numerous reasons why business coaching can fail to achieve the results that are expected. While going through the business coaching process, businesses need to establish and potentially redefine the role of the owner, the managers and the staff at various (or all levels) of the business. Sometimes people are not prepared to commit to this overhaul, be it the work they need to ‘do on themselves’ and hence being out of their comfort zone, or the potential disruption that may eventuate due to the changes that need to be made, even if the benefits are clear.
However, to get the benefits and positive effects of business coaching, business owners need to overcome their fears and anxiety, and remind themselves that if they continue to do the same ‘old’ actions repeatedly, they are likely to continue to have the same unimpressive outcomes. Most often, the process of change is critical for success to occur. The process starts with a clear vision and an understanding of what is expected of the owner - the leader of the company.
The large majority of business owners are keen in developing their personal growth,
working to improve their performance and appreciate being recognised for their efforts, the value they offer and receiving positive and helpful feedback.
Conversely, staff want their leader to believe in them and their skills, and who have a genuine commitment in helping them grow and develop, which often means an investment of time.
Business coaching helps owners and staff embracing the notion and understanding of change. At its most basic, business coaching, means taking an interest in owners developing and advancing their own, and their staffs’ abilities, expanding and building on their strengths. It clarifies that is expected of the owner and the level to which staff need to perform; couple this with the clear vision of the company, and the outcomes can only assist and benefit the people and the company's results.

EXPECTATION

Very often, when plans fail, or our conversations with people do not go as well as it should, it comes down to one simply realisation – our expectations were not being met. There is a discrepancy of what we thought would happens versus the other person understanding of what would happen. This happens often in the coaching process. The lack of knowing or understanding what business coaching brings to the business owner or his company, is often not clearly explained. They may have heard about business coaching from a third party, or seen its success in another company, but then struggle to understand how they can, and need to, bring the learning into their own business. In other words, no-one has explained the basic ground rules of what is expected of them, both long and short term.

BE WILLING TO DO THE HARD WORK

Often clients think that once they are working with a coach, things will ‘right’ themselves quickly and with a few sessions they believe the problems will disappear. The realisation of this not happening often leads clients disappointed and surprised. Coaching is not a tool to correct bad leadership or culture, and should not be viewed as such. The client needs to know that coaching encourages and enhances good culture and performance and does not condone and manage sub-par performance.
It takes effort and discipline – the hard work - by clients to ensure implementations made while engaged in the business coaching process, carry on been followed and improved once coaching ends. This expectation needs to be clearly understood by the client, otherwise they will not appreciate that business coaching is not a ‘one stop shop’ process.

Part of the client’s willingness is also centred on the idea that they must not expect to be told what to do or how they should behave, which is contrary to the notion of being presented numerous options and perspectives. The client needs to be self-motivated to gain insight about themselves and know that they have the key to determining the outcomes they need and want from coaching.

ENSURE THE CHANGE IS SUSTAINED

Ultimately, business owners need to take responsibility for the success of failure of the business coaching process, but should also ensure that staff are aware and involved in the ensuing cultural change that has occurred due to the coaching. Everyone needs to be involved in follow- ups and making sure they are tracking long term outcomes and successes. By making sure your staff understand they are critical to the business coaching’s outcomes, will likely cause them to rise up to the challenge and ensure that team and individual goal are met.

If should come as no surprise that it the initial momentum is not sustained, and embraced, it will likely fizzle out and old behaviour will take hold again. However, if the implementation is successful and encouraged, it will become self-perpetuating.

CONCLUSION

Having received business coaching, SME owners can expect their business to grow and the business performance to be higher. Besides good monetary outcomes, coaching clients gain knowledge and experience, new leadership and business skills that were previously missing, the opportunity to share ideas and different points of view, and to gain various perspectives on the issues facing them and their company.
All these benefits are derived because a relationship of trust develops between the coach and the client; irrespective of the stage of the company’s growth, or the leadership skills required by the owners.
Having quantitative measures and approaches in place is also definitely helpful, but.... coaching is not that ‘cut and dry’ and can perhaps best be described as a non-direct motivator and transformative instrument to help clients achieve their required outcomes.