My favourite coach leaves me feeling cold; but refreshed, relaxed, energised, thinking about what I’m doing next and (normally) smiling. OK, the coach I’m talking about is twenty metres under water. But what is coaching and how does it help the owners of small firms?

What is coaching? Is it scuba diving on my favourite coach at Stoney Cove?

Is coaching dead?

Clearly my coach is past it. It’s rusty and hasn’t moved for 15 years. Seriously though, is coaching a fashion accessory, has it died off, or does it add value to clients? The following are clips from recent conversations:

  • Too common a title?At an excellent presentation on change, somebody asked about my badge (she saw “coach”). She was intrigued as everybody in her corporate world seems to have coach in their job title and yet do no “coaching”.
  • Too dictatorial?A week ago a new client asked if I would let her use models other my own. I was shocked and asked of her opinion on “what is coaching?” (my answer was you use anything that works for you).
  • A bit of a luxury? Two Accountants talking “I’d love to have a coach in my firm, but I’ve got too many things going on”. I wondered what they thought a coach would do for them.
  • What’s in a name? Are there less coaches around now, or have they renamed themselves (“performance specialist”, “mentor”, “growth consultant”)? It leads back to the “what is coaching” question!

Why would you use a coach?

I asked a number of professional service providers (not clients), what a coach did for them. The answers were, use a coach if you need somebody to help you:

  • think differently
  • challenge you
  • explore and structure your thoughts
  • stop procrastinating and take action
  • help your team develop
  • focus on your own agenda
  • do, not think, say or dream
  • switch your mind-set, so you think client and staff (bottom line follows)

I don’t have a clue what those are worth to you, or if they’re helpful at all; but that’s the feedback I got.

Each person reported it had been valuable and the nature of it changed over time. None of them said “told me what to do” or insisted on them doing things their way; in fact, they said that wouldn’t have worked.

What is coaching?

It seems effective coaching is about helping you focus on your agenda, not the coaches. That may sound obvious, but how I’ve often heard people say that their “coach” told them that they should be doubling their business, employing more people, “working on the business, not in the business“, cold calling or any number of other things. Coaching works because it enhances you, not changes your goal or make you do things you don’t want to do.

If you feel bullied into doing something, it's not coaching - Click here to tweet this

OK, sometimes when clients need extra help, support, ideas etc. the coach then might give some options. Having co-authored a book, written hundreds of blogs, presented thousands of workshops. I have some models that can help people. I don’t think the occasional use of such material devalues the process, but telling people this is the way they must do it doesn’t sound like coaching to me.

Is coaching worth the money?

It depends on what you want to achieve and what that’s worth to you! I know several firms that get great value from their coaches (well, I would). Some coaches who don’t get paid unless the client gets value and some that guarantee the fee will be repaid if the client deems there is no value. I would need to be pretty confident I could add value as a coach in those conditions.

What’s your experience of coaching?

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Have you got your "next step kitbag yet"? It's stuffed with guides, reports & templates helping you grow from 5 to 50 employees Click here for immediate access

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