IS COACHING FOR ME?
As a business person, you can prosper with help from a business coach if you are:
- Seeking focus and business/personal direction
- Facing a situation where you're stuck and can't seem to make any progress
- Feeling a need to talk with someone with business and life experience
- Looking for someone who will listen and ask good questions.
A Business Coach enables you to make progress in your business and life and grow at a pace that is reasonable for you.
TWO WAYS TO GET BETTER
Linda Richardson in her excellent book Sales Coaching writes: "There are two ways to get better: work harder and/or change. Coaching is about how to change by doing things differently. Every organization and person has blind spots. The power of coaching lies in turning those blind spots into perspective."
Business and Executive Coaches coach by looking at what the business person is doing now to determine what to change to make tomorrow better. As Richardson says: "There are two ways to get better: work harder and/or change." Most business people are already working as hard as they know how; it's how they're working that is causing them the problem, not how much they're working. That means change is needed. She goes on to say, "Coaching is about how to change by doing things differently." The implication here is that those who are doing what they're doing today can become better if they do things differently. That is a key principle of coaching.
Richardson's statement: "Every organization and person has blind spots" is so true. Business and Executive Coaches use coaching as a way to get business owners/executives to see their blind spots and change.
THE VALUE OF COACHING
How valuable do the world's top performers in sports and the world of entertainment consider coaching: so valuable that every top performer has a coach. Whether it is Tiger Woods, number one golfer in the world, or Luciano Pavaratti, the outstanding operatic tenor, or Julia Roberts, the academy award winning actress, each has a coach. Luciano Pavarotti was born with a wonderful voice, but he also has four coaches (one for music, one for voice, one for acting, and one for language). When Julia Roberts won her Academy Award for best actress in Erin Brockovich, after two previous nominations where she did not win, she attributed her win to Steven Soderbergh, her director (coach). Julia said, "I have an Academy Award now, and nobody else has brought that out. Its indescribable." Steven Soderbergh certainly can't play the parts that Julia Roberts can play, but he can help her play those parts to the best of her ability. That speaks volumes about the value of coaching.
Successful business people also consider coaching to be a valuable practice for them and their employees. Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft and one of the richest men in the world uses Warren Buffet as a coach. Larry Bossidy, Chairman and former CEO of Honeywell International, used Ram Charan as a coach. Bob Nardelli, CEO of Home Depot said in an article in the 07/01/02 issue of Fortune Magazine, "I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities." And John Russell, Managing Director, Harley-Davidson Europe Ltd said, "I never cease to be amazed at the power of the coaching process to draw out the skills or talent that was previously hidden within an individual, and which invariably finds a way to solve a problem previously thought unsolvable."
Why doesn't each of these top performers merely attend training instead of turning to coaching to insure that they stay top performers? Because training, without appropriate coaching follow up, is notoriously ineffective! Xerox Corporation carried out several studies, one of which showed that without follow-up coaching, 87% of the skills change brought about by the program was lost. That means that for every dollar invested in training, the return was thirteen cents! Or, another way to say it is that for every dollar invested in training, 87 cents were lost! Yet, study after study shows coaching to have a significant return on investment. One such study, conducted by Michigan-based Triad Performance Technologies, Inc. studied and evaluated the effects of a coaching intervention on a group of regional and district sales managers within a large telecom organization. The third party research study cites a 10:1 return on investment in less than one year. Or, as Fortune Magazine in its 02/19/01 edition wrote, "Asked for a conservative estimate of the monetary payoff from the coaching they got, these managers described an average return of more than $100,000, or about six times what the coaching had cost their companies." Whereas training without coaching follow up shows a significant loss on ROI, coaching shows a significant return. Thats value!
TWO IMPORTANT COACHING POINTS
There are two important points about business and executive coaching that need mentioning:
- First: Business/Executive coaching is not an event. It is a process; it is on-going. Business/Executive Coaches don't just have a coaching session once and everything happens the way the business owner/executive wants from then on. Business/Executive Coaches have many sessions where they coach the same skill over and over, often focusing on the basics. Look at spring training for professional baseball players, or pre-season training for professional football players. Here are professionals who have been playing the sport for most of their lives, and yet the focus at these training camps is on basics. It is this constant reinforcement that brings about improvement. Reinforcement shapes and builds desirable behavior. That means, as the business person slowly builds skills in some particular area, the Business/Executive Coach continually reinforces by feeding back observations in a positive manner. Business/Executive Coaches don't just hold a one-hour session, cover all the important points then turn the individual loose to do his/her thing. Coaching takes time and repetition.
- Second: Coaches don't play the game; they watch how the game is being played. They let their players play. That is very hard for some business owners/executives to understand. The Business/Executive Coach doesn't play the game; she observes how the business owner/executive plays the game, then coaches for ways to play better. If you watch sports events, especially football or basketball, where are the coaches? They're not out on the field, but on the sidelines watching everything that goes on. In fact there may be several coaches on the sidelines watching and feeding information back to the players. And that brings up one of the most important skills that Business/Executive Coaches utilize: feedback. As Ken Blanchard, in his book the One Minute Manager says, "Feedback is the breakfast of champions." Its also the breakfast of coaches.
FEEDBACK: THE CRITICAL COACHING COMPONENT
What is feedback? Rick Maurer, a management consultant specializing in organizational change explains, "On a flight from the East Coast to the West Coast, an airplane goes off course about 90% of the time. But it reaches it's destination because feedback mechanisms get the plane back on course." The same principle applies to business people. To reach their goals, they need constant feedback on their performance. Ongoing feedback performs two functions: It helps keep the business/executive on track with regard to business goals, and it let's people know where they stand.