There are a number of great and well known ‘management consultants’ available now…thanks to Marvin Bower (the individual who invented the modern professional management consultancy in the form of McKinsey and Company). What we need now is someone to do for business ‘coaching’ what Mr. Bower did for consulting…
A number of famous Statesmen (and Stateswomen) over the years have been ‘coached’ or ‘advised’ by other famous men/women….many would not have become as successful as they became without the help of the ‘coach’ or ‘advisor’…however, hiring a business coach for an individual in a company that may be perceived as having leadership potential, can be tricky business. Years ago, most companies engaged a coach to help with poor leadership at the top. Today, most coaching is about developing the capabilities of high-potential performers. As a result, there is a good deal of skepticism and concern as how coaches define their scope of engagements, how they measure or report on progress and which, if any, credentials a company should look for when selecting a coach.
The general consensus is that the coaching industry is fraught with confusion, conflicts of interest and blurry lines between the province of ‘coaches’ and what should be in the realm of the mental health professionals. Let’s face it…the average C-suite member is most likely not going to admit to an anxiety disorder in the work place, however, they might admit a need for help/advice in handling subordinates, etc. For small business owners, the challenge may not be so steep and admitting anxiety, concern or inability may come easier but the small business owner may not have the $500/hour needed to pay the business coach.
Regardless of the overall opinion of the profession and the criteria that needs to be met or looked into when hiring a ‘coach’, there are a few guidelines that should be followed….mainly, the company needs to ascertain with specificity what the coach will be pursuing with the executive/business owner…is the individual to be ‘coached’ receptive to change? Executives/business owners should have a fierce desire to learn and grow. Please remember to never engage a coach for behavioral problems. It is a proven fact that individuals with iron-clad belief systems do not change.
It is extremely important that the executive/business owner have very good chemistry with the coach. If this is not evident, keep looking until the ‘chemistry’ is identified. If the rapport is not good between the two, the relationship will not work. Another important aspect to coaching is the commitment from upper management to develop the individual. If it is a business ownership situation, the commitment should be from the individual him/herself and the ‘team’ or supporters.
Please remember that as the coaching engagement proceeds, the focus will change to possible ‘bigger issues’ such as life purpose, work/life balance and becoming a better leader. Some say that if the assignment is set up properly, the issues are usually very clear before the assignment actually begins. Another interesting aspect of ‘coaching’ is that it borrows aspects from both consulting and therapy. Do not hire a therapist to be a business coach. These are separate issues entirely…
Finally, performance of the coach needs to be measured so please insure that goals are set from the beginning. What would you like this executive/business owner to achieve or be able to perform once the coaching contract is completed. Everything is measurable in some way…insure that this is something that is measured, as well.
The bottom line is that I now truly understand why not one of my colleagues could ‘recommend’ a legitimate business coach in this part of the country. I am sure that there are a number of them but without the recurrent reputation of success, the recommendations are not forthcoming.
Coaching as a business tool is extremely legitimate at this point in time but the fundamentals of the ‘industry’ are still not finalized. Please use caution in choosing a business coach and please contact me, Rosanne Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 484-798-1236 if you need help choosing a business coach for your environment.