A segway from training to mentoring
For me business coaching is about exploring options through an objective eye. We have all faced situations were those closest to us in business have their own subjective needs and views. This can cloud what is right for you and your business, especially if you are a people pleaser or feel that someone ‘knows’ more than you. Another scenario is that you could be a sole owner of a business without a sounding board to bounce ideas and formulate strategies. Either way, a business coach might be the right option for you.
What I should stress at this point is that a coach does not run your business. You do. So any arrangement you proceed with, make sure there is a clear understanding that a coach is there to facilitate- where you are going and help you focus. Not to tell you who to hire, fire, sell or buy from.
A coach will be a commercial arrangement, as with any commercial arrangement, you need to make sure the service is value for money and actually necessary. You may only need a one off session or a series of sessions during a major project or period of expansion. You may also want to consider having a number of specialist at hand for particular areas and therefore do not feel obligated to stick to the same person. The types of coach’s you engage can evolve to suit your business need.
Some points of clarification-
Before setting out my own stall as to how I structure business coaching it’s important for you to do some pre work to make sure you get a good fit:
Before approaching possible coaches, ask yourself:
Look for people who specialise in the area you are looking to be coached in. Ask around, check out their LinkedIn profile, social media presence etc. Or you may want a completely fresh view from another industry. Either way do your due diligence.
Any coach will speak to you for free to assess if they will be a fit. This will be a short conversation, via phone or email. This is the opportunity for both parties to be clear on what is needed, what could be delivered and your opportunity to make sure you are comfortable with their approach. Then agree fees. While there are hourly or day rates, if you want 5 of your people in the room, this turns into a workshop and does require more work for the coach. Only fair the added complexity is considered.
Finally if you are not 100% comfortable discussing your business with a stranger, do not be afraid to ask for a non-disclosure agreement to be signed.
How I see business coaching
These sessions should be tailored to suit your needs and requirements. My general approach I take is to:
The above does depend on the maturity of your business. You may need a session to cover some basics (assuming no business training), such as hiring staff, company structures, your duties as a director, doing a competitor analysis etc. Therefore only requires step 1), 2) & 6).
For a more mature company you may be looking to expand and need help- managing change, scaling up your back office, scenario planning, staff training etc. The complexity of your business will impact if any coaching delivered morphs into another form of service, such as project management.
Finally…….Mentoring V Coaching there is a difference…
Coaching is task orientated and can be very short term by its nature. Mentoring on the other hand, is a long term relationship working with you to develop a path for you and your business. While a coach can drift into this territory it is important that both sides are comfortable with the difference.
An example which I hope explains this is, if I was asked to deliver a session on leadership skills, I would pass on the knowledge and facilitate learning but it will be up to the participants to apply this in their roles afterwards- This is coaching. However, if I added a follow up service visiting every 4 months to see how participants put this into practice, working with them to apply and address any issues- this is mentoring.
Personally you can have a mentoring element to coaching especially on longer term assignments but there is a difference and the two roles should be clearly defined so everyone is comfortable from the start. If the relationship changes, then formally agree this as required. I also think it is a fair consideration to note, you can have a very qualified and experienced coach on a topic, but they may not yet have the gravitas or breathe of experience to act as a mentor.
That’s OK, you have hired them to coach. Embrace their strength for acting as a great trainer and communicator of facts. Experienced professionals like myself do both coaching and mentoring. However, if I feel you need a wiser sole to mentor you through a particular period of your business, I am going to suggest this.
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