It can be tempting for many employees to believe that when they first begin the process of business coaching that the coach will simply provide all of the answers they are looking for in order to achieve the desired objectives and goals that are the reasons for embarking on a business coaching programme in the first place.
However unlike traditional training courses in which delegates primarily sit back and let the course tutor impart all of their knowledge to their pupils, in business coaching the person receiving the coaching is a key driver of the session.
Rather than one way communication which will form the majority of a training session, in a business coaching meeting the coach acts as a sounding board and an instigator of conversation in order to encourage the individual to primarily come up with answers and solutions to the metaphorical obstacles which are holding them back and preventing them from fulfilling and achieving their optimum potential in the workplace.
Not only will the individual have to participate extensively in the coaching session, but they will also have to be prepared to put in the time and effort outside of the sessions when back in the workplace to put into practice the action plans discussed. It is no use talking about problems and coming up with plans regarding how to overcome them if there is then no follow-through or effort to actually bring about the change.
This means that without employee commitment to what is trying to be achieved, business coaching will ultimately be a waste of everyone's time, as only those who want to overcome barriers and achieve their maximum potential will be able to do so.
Some managers and business owners may have the preconception that business coaching can give them all the answers to their problems, and come into the coaching sessions unprepared and sometimes unwilling to be challenged. Unfortunately, the reality is that in order for business coaching to be truly effective, it is often the case that difficult questions need to be asked and answered truthfully by the person being coached, even if it means having to admit to weaknesses or failures in certain areas.
For a person to desire business or executive coaching, it is highly probable that they are doing so because there is a particular aspect of their professional life that they wish to change or improve upon. For this to be the case, it must also be true that they have already attempted, but have been unable, to make progress by themselves in this area. Often it is the case that little or no progress has been made because the person lacks the skills or confidence to make it happen.
The first step in learning a new skill is to accept that you are not perfect at it already or know everything there is to know about whatever it is. A person who is arrogant will not be receptive to new ideas or ways of working, even if they can see that the old way is not producing the desired outcomes. Only a person who admits that they have room for improvement can actually improve.
This is why it can be tough for those new to business coaching who are not prepared to be challenged. Chief executives and managers are used to giving orders and directions without being questioned or told what to do, and it can be a shock to their systems to be told that what they are doing could be done better. The relationship between a business coach and the person receiving the coaching is crucial to overcome this initial barrier which may be put up by the coachee. By taking things a step at a time, and with regular support from your business coach, new ways to overcome problems and improve results can be found to help you achieve your professional goals.
A particular reason for failing to address issues early on, before they become either a significant problem or the accepted way of doing things, is because doing so often requires upheaval, disagreements, disruption to productivity, and many other problems which a manager would prefer to avoid. As with most issues though, whether it is business-related or a health issue such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), avoidance usually makes the problem worse, and at best does nothing whatsoever to tackle it.
The fact that it is difficult is the reason why many managers will put off dealing with the problem. Rather than cause a scene or having a disagreement, so long as the workaround is not too detrimental they take the easy option and avoid upsetting the apple cart. After all, it is better to have an employee working at less than optimal performance rather than taking the hump and going on a go-slow or even not working at all.
Unfortunately though workarounds do not work over the long term as aside from not being the optimal method of working, meaning that there is an opportunity cost involved, the workaround for one issue will often lead to the same thing happening for other tasks performed by the individual or their department. If this happens, a manager can suddenly notice one day that most of the tasks being performed by the worker could be done in a better way which would save both time and money for the firm.
If the issues were easy to deal with or did not have the potential to cause such argument or disruption then it would not be so emotionally difficult, and the manager would more than likely nip it in the bud straight away.
The fact that it is such a thorny issue means that assistance can often be required to help move forward. This is where business coaching comes in, as the experienced coach can provide the support required for helping the manager and the individual employee put solutions in place and action plans for altering the current way of working so as to increase effectiveness. This will provide tremendous benefits to the company as having employees who work to their maximum potential will result in the organisation achieving and maintaining its objectives that much sooner and more successfully.
The discomfort that may ensue from tackling a problem can be felt by the manager, the employee, or both. Regardless of who would be feeling uncomfortable, the business will be suffering, even if it is only slightly, which means that for the benefit of the organisation as a whole the issue(s) need addressing, even if it will prove to be difficult or uncomfortable for someone.
Often though, the anticipated discomfort will not be as bad as expected, particularly so when business coaching is provided during the transition from one way of working to another and provides comfort and assistance during difficult and awkward periods.
Coaching and mentoring is not just about developing people to improve upon their current levels when everything is acceptable; it is also heavily utilised for addressing underperformance and when productivity and effectiveness is below management's expectations.
Business coaching is a highly effective method of developing employees. In conjunction with training courses where new information is taught or existing knowledge refreshed via a course tutor, business coaching involves an experienced coach working with an individual to identify the issues which are holding them back in the workplace. Once identified, the coach and the individual between them devise a plan of action with the aim of tackling these metaphorical roadblocks and overcoming those barriers which are preventing them from fulfilling their maximum potential.
An effective business coaching session will therefore focus on solutions rather than emphasising everything that is wrong with the person and their work. Of course, issues will need to be identified and discussed, but rather than making the session all about how bad these problems are and how detrimental they have been to both the person's career development and to the achievement of the company's targets, the focus should be on how these matters will be overcome going forward.
By concentrating on the positives rather than wallowing in the negatives, the probability of successful modification of workplace behaviour and attitudes is much more likely to occur. Similarly, a stronger desire to work towards overcoming problems which exist in the workplace is more likely to emerge which can make all the difference between success in the future or a continuation of the present state of affairs.
It is a fact of life that people do not take criticism, even constructive suggestions, very well. Whenever someone is told or has it implied that what they are doing is wrong or below standard, it can often lead to them becoming defensive and refusing to listen to anything more that is said (or at least if they do listen they refuse to take it on board). This results in little progress being made, and time and again causes the meeting to descend into arguments filled with personal insults.
Positive thoughts and plans on the other hand tend to lead to positive action. Rather than criticising and dwelling on what went wrong in the past, concentrating on what positive actions are going to be performed in the future will be much more motivating for the individual and as a consequence result in a greater chance of success and improvements.
The same approach should be used no matter what problems or issues the individual is encountering, even if the past action of the worker caused a significant negative outcome which cannot be allowed to happen again, as focusing on positive actions for the future will be much more likely to bring about successful change.
The BCF Group have evolved from the Business Coaching Foundation, which was established in 2001. We have leadership development and business coaching at our core. Having representation from global learning leads, executive coaches and talent development specialists, we deliver accredited people development programs.Find Out More
Please see below for some related courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:
The ILM Level 7 Qualifications for Senior Level Coaches and Mentors are designed for senior leaders/managers (or those working in a training and development role) who are regularly coaching or mentoring at a senior level.
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Based on our extensive work and experience with leaders, both in the private and public sectors, this ILM Level 5 Coaching and Mentoring programme has been designed to develop the capability of leaders to positively impact the performance of individuals and teams.
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It covers problem-solving, decision making, workplace communication and leading, and motivating teams effectively, among much more.
This course has been designed for those who are new to management or who are about to take up a management position.
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It includes modules on communication, managing your team, managing yourself, delegating, setting objectives, planning and personal development.
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