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Business Coaching and Mentoring

What is Business Coaching?

'Business coaching' can seem like a vague term. So, let's demystify it for you.

Firstly, business coaching doesn't take place in a training room packed full of participants. Neither does it involve a tutor trying to pass down new information and knowledge about a particular topic.

It is instead a one-to-one conversation – or, more accurately, a series of conversations – which helps people come up with action plans for changing their current situation, developing their abilities, motivating those who work for them and any other areas where they are looking for improvement.

Our definition of business coaching is below. You may also find our blog entry, What's The Difference Between Coaching And Mentoring?, of interest too!

"A skilled business conversation that enables the person being coached, to come up with their own options to move forward on a business challenge with high commitment."

Whether you are running a small business or are a high-flier in one of the world's leading brands, business coaching is hugely beneficial. It is the skill to have in today's rapidly changing business climate.

Becoming a business coach can also be an extremely lucrative career for you. For more information, please check out our "Becoming a Business Coach" page by clicking here.

The Three Main Types of Business Coaching

Executive Coaching

Corporate executives, company directors and senior managers have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders.

They have to make big decisions that can ultimately make or break the company.

And quite often, these decisions can be difficult, even unpleasant, such as having to lay off a large number of employees to reduce costs.

There is often a perception of corporate executives being uncaring, cold-hearted individuals who are quite happy to make decisions in the boardroom and pocket exorbitant salaries.

The reality is that most do care about their workers (how much they should care and how friendly they should be with their employees is the topic of this article) and hate having to make those tough decisions. Quite often, managers can often care too much, and are in fact afraid to make hard but necessary decisions, and instead try to compromise with workarounds that seldom turn out very well in the long term.

A good executive coach understands that big salaries do not take away feelings and that the pressure and psychological impact of having to make such decisions will weigh heavily on most leaders. They will also understand the demands that come with being at the helm of a large company, and the stresses that exist in having to keep such a large organisation on track and on course for a prosperous future.

Executive coaching sessions aim to develop these leaders to achieve their full potential. Not only is coaching ideal for managers and employees, but an increasing number of business owners see the value in utilising the services of a professional business coach.

The sessions are designed to fit around you and your work commitments. They usually take place at your offices, which minimises the amount of time spent away from your day-to-day duties.

Performance Coaching

Performance coaching, as its name may suggest, deals specifically with a person's performance at work.

It aims to get them to perform at their peak level, realising their full potential to drive a business forward.

Underperformance is a big headache for businesses. For those employees on a fixed salary, the amount they receive will be the same whatever their performance and output level – at least in the short term until management has had enough.

With costs the same, owners and managers are eager to get their workers operating at the top end of the performance ability chart.

This underperformance and lack of effort can also spread to others in the business, dragging down the whole team as those around them begin to do the same, particularly if they are seen as able to get away with it.

However, despite the numerous benefits, many managers still struggle to provide business coaching for their employees.

Life Coaching

Instead of focusing on business targets, life coaching focuses on goals outside of the workplace.

This could be anything from earning more money to getting fitter and losing weight.

Personal aspirations are closely linked to work.

Earning more money would come about as a consequence of getting a raise or being promoted, both of which are linked to job performance.

Losing weight may seem like a purely personal goal which would have no impact on what you do at work. But, if it makes you happy and improves your mood, you will probably be more productive than before. It may also give you more belief that you can achieve difficult goals, which will help you as you set and pursue other objectives to achieve at work.

This is just one example of the many positive outcomes that coaching can bring to your professional or personal life.

What Makes a Good Business Coach?

A good business coach will have several characteristics which make them good at the task.

The best coaches realise the need for continuous improvement of their skills, and fortunately, even someone who does not possess certain qualities or is lacking in particular areas can become more proficient through attending business coaching courses which help with their development.

A good coach does more than just support, encourage and inspire. There needs to be a purpose or reason for coaching. By determining and setting goals, an employee has a target to work towards. And the implementation of a deadline can often provide the necessary motivation for actually getting on with things, rather than procrastinating and putting things off.

Business coaches also understand that often success comes from people working as a team. In the same way as it is for sports teams, by emphasising and developing teamwork within the business, the coach will help instil the feeling among workers that the goals of the business come before individual achievements.

What are the Benefits of Business Coaching?

There are many benefits of business coaching, and it can be used for many things. Here are just a few:

  • It brings back focus. Becoming overwhelmed by tasks and responsibilities is natural. Business coaching can work to cut through this and help focus on the things that really matter.
  • It gives crystal-clear goals for the short-term and long-term. Mentoring through executive coaching can help define and build clear goals for the present, as well as for the future.
  • It brings up the tricky subject of accountability. Setting goals is only part of the business coaching process. The next step is to develop a process of accountability that will ensure these goals are met.
  • It creates meaningful brainstorming opportunities. One of the best things about business coaching is that it can bring in a coach who is external to the business to brainstorming sessions. A business coach can provide a sounding board for ideas, as well a potential creative force that can help people see things they may not have discovered on their own.
  • It provides personal development. Powerful executive coaching goes beyond simply giving an individual ideas and focus. A truly exceptional mentor/coach will provide similar gifts of inspiration and focus to individuals. After all, a coach is not there to provide all of the answers.
  • It increases accuracy and reduces mistakes and wastage. Employees will have the opportunity to discuss possible reasons that may be affecting the accuracy, quality and/or quantity of the work they produce. By working with a manager to address whatever is negatively affecting the employee, the amount and quality of their work should increase, which is obviously good for the company.
  • It provides the opportunity for performing regular review meetings. These sessions are essential. Not only do they ensure that employees are not going off at a tangent on the projects they have been tasked with, but they also show that managers believe the work that the employee is doing is important enough for them to take time out of their busy day to talk about. Nobody wants to be micromanaged, but a manager who does not simply delegate work and let an employee fend for themselves, and is available for guidance, discussion and constructive feedback, will inspire more effort from those they have delegated projects to.

How Effective is Business Coaching?

There is growing evidence of its effectiveness and how widespread it has become. Here are some results from a recent survey carried out by Vision Quest consulting:

From the client's perspective

Vision Quest Consulting surveyed clients that had experienced executive coaching.

  • 100% increased their ability to deal with business challenges by 75% or more
  • 88% improved their job satisfaction by 75% or more
  • 80% improved their ability to stay focused under pressure
  • 78% increased their productivity by at least 50%

From the company's perspective

We found companies that use coaching see the following improvements:

  • 53% increased productivity
  • 39% increased customer service
  • 32% increased retention of senior people
  • 23% reduced costs
  • 22% increase in bottom line profits
  • 77% improved working relationships
  • 67% improved teamwork
  • 52% improved conflict resolution

How does coaching compare with training?

IPMA research found that:

  • Ordinary training typically increased productivity by 22%
  • But when combined with coaching productivity increased by 88%

How widespread is coaching?

In a Hay Group survey of 170 HR professionals from around the world:

  • More than half reported their organisation had introduced coaching in the past 18 months
  • 88% were planning to broaden the scope of coaching in their organisation
  • 70% believe coaching is more effective than training courses as a means of changing behaviour and improving the performance of senior executives and high flyers

Another poll by Hay Group of over 350 HR directors found that coaching was well established across the UK as part of leadership and development schemes, with a third of companies investing in coaching for senior managers. One-quarter of organisations are launching coaching programmes for middle managers.

Building a Business Case for Coaching

Building a business case for coaching to be implemented within an organisation will depend on whom the request is coming from. For example if the request is from the CEO, then chances are that the coaching programme will go ahead. However, if for example the request is coming from the Head of HR, they may need to 'sell' the vision, justification, rationale and benefits of the coaching programme. For this, they would need to present a business case for coaching.

If this scenario is familiar to you, there are a few questions you may want to consider, before building the business case for coaching:

  • What objectives/issues/problems are you looking to address, e.g. what are you looking to enhance/fix/solve?
  • Who will be coached?
  • Who will do the coaching - internal/external?
  • How will you match coaches to coachees?
  • What training will the coaches complete?
  • How will the coaches be supervised?
  • What codes of practice will be followed?
  • How will you ensure confidentiality and record information?
  • What will be included in the coaching agreements/contracts?
  • How will you 'sell' the idea within the organisation that coaching is positive?
  • Over what time period will the coaching programme be scheduled?
  • How will you evaluate the results?

Coaching Programme Objectives/Outcomes

Organisations are built on mission statements, values and objectives. With this in mind, you need to understand where the current focus is and also where the future focus will be. Based on this, you can then establish the objectives and outcomes (be specific) of your business case for coaching:

  • What are the current challenges the organisation faces? strategic, departmental, behaviours, individual
  • What diagnostic tools will you use to elicit these?
  • By when?
  • What does success look like?
  • How will success be measured?

Start Small for Big Returns

One of the key aspects business can learn from sport is that of practice. Take Formula 1 for example; they do countless hours of testing the new season car before release. Football, they go on pre-season tours for fitness, then 'friendly' matches, all before the season starts. Tennis, most tour players will enter Queen's club tournament before Wimbledon starts. Get the picture?

In business we tend to start big! Yes we have carried out due diligence, planning, analysis, preparation etc, but how often do we practice in a "live" environment?

This is where pilot programmes are invaluable. They will enable you to assess the cost benefit/return on investment (ROI), find out what's working well, what's working less well, obtain tangible and intangible results and provide valuable feedback, thereby allowing you to make any necessary 'tweaks' to the programme, prior to the launch.

Start small:

  • Start with maybe 3 coaches
  • 3 coachees per coach
  • Deliberate, specific objectives to meet
  • 6 sessions per coachee
  • 3-month pilot programme
  • Use diagnostic tools before the start: 360°, Psychometric etc.
  • Survey during the programme to obtain results of what they are doing differently as a result of the coaching
  • Use the same diagnostic tool after the programme, to check for changes
  • Use the results in your business case for coaching

Presenting the Business Case for Coaching

A business case clearly articulates the rationale for making the investment. It could be made verbally through a presentation, or in writing as a work proposal.

The points below are for consideration when writing the business case for coaching:

  • What specific remit/objectives will the coaching programme be based on?
  • State the purpose, aim and vision of the programme
  • Who will sponsor the programme and how can they help influence decisions?
  • Dispel any misconceptions about coaching by "inoculating" against them
  • Duration of the programme
  • Size of the programme: coaches; coachees; internal/external; support; supervision
  • How will coaches and coachees be selected?
  • Training coaches to be coaches?
  • Set standards, quality control, contracts, ethics, venues, length of session, cancellations
  • Risk factors: what would make the programme fail; how to mitigate these?
  • Visible and hidden costs of doing the programme
  • What are the costs of not doing the programme?
  • Results from the pilot programme
  • Who's involved, roles, responsibilities?
  • Diagnostic tools for pre/post programme: 360°, Employee Opinion Survey (ODMAP), Psychometric, questionnaires etc.
  • Monitoring and reporting
  • Evaluation

Evaluating the Coaching Programme

Typically, effective evaluation of development programmes for organisations and/or projects has been quite difficult to achieve. The main reason for this is because the "before criteria" have not been clearly established. The "before criteria" are defined and specified as: the purpose, aim, rationale and objectives of the development programme. This could be, for example when looking at time management, prioritising and delegating:

  • Time lost due to managers completing tasks that could be delegated
  • Poorly delegated tasks, resulting in poor performance
  • Time lost in unproductive meetings
  • Time lost due to poor email management

Calculating ROI in Coaching

The amount of money wasted over a pre-determined time period (in this example 6 months) is calculated as X hours x an hourly rate (average salary) = A.

After coaching takes place, the new amount of money wasted is calculated in the same way = B.

The cost of coaching needs to include both the coach's and coachee's costs during the coaching sessions = C.

Let's take the example above and assume that, of five managers (coachees) researched, it was determined that collectively they 'wasted' (or, unproductively used, if you prefer) a total of 5 hours (hrs) per day (pd). The time period is 6 months, therefore a total of 650 hrs in lost time; i.e. 5hrs pd x 5 days per week x 26 wks in 6 months = 650 hrs.

Managers' average salary has been calculated at £20 per hour.
Therefore, £20 x 650 hrs = £13,000
A = £13,000

Coaching has taken place and reduces loss time by 50%. Same calculation as above
B = £6,500

The internal coach earns £20 per hour on average, therefore each coaching session costs: £40 (coach + coachee).
Therefore, 5 managers (coachees) x 6 sessions each x £40 = £1,200
C = £1,200

Intangible Benefits

Through diagnostic tools, e.g. 360° feedback, interviews, questionnaires etc, you will be able to elicit other benefits too.

These could be:

  • Increased confidence in delegating work
  • Increased effectiveness of employees being delegated to
  • Enhanced communication skills, e.g. clarity
  • Motivation, leading to increased retention rates
  • Productivity
  • Creativity

Following the above recommendations will enable you to provide an engaging and robust business case for a coaching programme within your organisation.

About Us

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.

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Related Blogs

Please see below for some of our related blogs regarding business coaching, leadership and management development:

How can your business create a coaching culture?
An informal business coaching chat taking place in a business with a strong coaching culture

Corporate culture, data culture, company culture, employee culture – the use of the words seems to grow almost by the day. All of these things can be crucial. But, arguably, the most important – and one that underpins many of the other workplace uses of the word – is coaching culture. But what exactly does it mean? Why should you create one, and how difficult is it to implement?


Why should your leaders become coaches?
A business manager providing coaching and mentoring to an employee

The role of leaders is changing. They are increasingly expected to be less instructional and directive. Instead, they need to be more supportive with a greater focus on interpersonal skills. In short, employees now want their leaders to be coaches. Here are six reasons why it is time for your leaders to adopt a coaching style approach to leadership.


The Carrot and Stick Approach to Motivation
A bunch of juicy carrots in a crate

Managers always need to keep in mind that their employees are individuals who will often have differing and contrasting personalities. This also means that they will respond in different ways to the attempts of the manager to boost productivity and get them to achieve certain targets and goals.


Rewarding Good Performance
Employee receiving a bonus gift for good work

As any manager or team leader who has attended a business coaching course or session will already know, the rewarding of good performance is typically a vital component and tool in a manager's armoury for getting greater productivity out of their employees.

However, it can also be extremely damaging if used too often, too little, or in an unfair way (either perceived or indisputable).


Business Coaching Diagnostic Tools
Data for analysis on a computer screen

There has always been a great debate on how tangible the results are in business coaching. To help business coaches and organisations to evidence the results and impact of business coaching interventions, we can apply to use of diagnostic tools.


Tell Employees the State of the Business When Coaching
Two employees slacking off in the office

Many managers will be apprehensive about telling employees too much concerning the state of the business, particularly if it is not doing so well. However, it can be argued that when a business is not performing as well as management would like it to, then it is even more important for managers to get the best out of their workers, which is the ultimate aim of business coaching.


Other Expertise

At the BCF Group, our expertise is not just limited to business development coaching and consulting, as business coaching skills and techniques often incorporate and overlap with others such as communication and interpersonal skills, leadership, management training and development, customer care, psychometric evaluations and reports, team building, commercial team development and many more.

Please click on the links below to see what other training provisions we offer in addition to business coaching.

Leadership and Management

A smiling manager

Business coaching frequently goes hand-in-hand with leadership and management development programmes. One of the key wishes of senior managers is to increase the effectiveness of staff members, in order to better achieve the company's aims and objectives.

As well as frequently running popular open courses such as First Line Manager courses at scheduled locations at our training venues around the United Kingdom, many of our business coaches also have extensive experience in providing bespoke management and leadership development programmes. These are tailored specifically to address the issues facing an individual manager or group of managers, and to enable them to provide much more value to their organisation.

Without effective leadership and management, workers will just be a collection of individuals all doing their own thing. They will not be a cohesive team, so their output may not join up correctly with what others are doing. Plus, without clear guidelines and direction, they may be producing work which, whilst thorough and of a high standard, is not actually what is required for the company to achieve its goals.

For more information regarding leadership, and how it is similar to and yet distinct from the process of management, please see our Leadership page.

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Interpersonal Skills

Offers workers talking and discussing tasks

We have already seen in the paragraphs above how important effective teams are for achieving company goals and objectives. Communication and interpersonal skills are a vital component of team working, not to mention interactions with potential/existing customers and suppliers. The development of interpersonal skills is therefore crucial for the success of a company.

Developing interpersonal skills is not simply a case of getting people to talk more. Sometimes talking more is actually a bad thing, and that less would be better. It is not the quantity that matters, but the quality of what is said. This will depend upon a particular situation, but can incorporate factors such as clarity and succinctness, being tactful, checking understanding and how the message is delivered and communicated.

A person whose interpersonal skills are somewhat lacking will not only struggle to get their message across or achieve the outcomes the want, but in all likelihood will probably end up causing conflict by offending someone or instigating confusion.

Read More

Customer Care

Handshake customer closing the deal

Despite having the best sales force in the world, if customers are not looked after properly they will not come back or recommend the firm to others, resulting in the loss of a great deal of future business and revenue.

Even existing customers may cancel their orders if customer care is particularly poor, which can be especially damaging, as for most businesses a significant proportion of their sales revenue comes from customers who have purchased from them in the past.

Investing in customer care will nearly always pay for itself many times over in the long run when considering the potential for lost earnings can arise through insufficient or unprofessional customer care.

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Sales and Negotiation Skills

A successful negotiation

For any commercial company where profit is the name of the game, winning orders is imperative. Otherwise, cuts in spending will have to be made, and even the very existence of the company could be under threat.

To win new business, particularly large orders, it is highly likely that members of the sales team will have to negotiate and interact with the decision makers. Such significant orders are rarely a straightforward case of picking something from a catalogue list; they often require a lot of discussion before the final commitment to purchase is made.

If the members of your sales team are lacking in negotiation and communication skills, they may lose the order to a competitor whose sales team is much more skilled in negotiating.

Like some of the other areas of training mentioned above, investing in sales and negotiation skills can pay for itself many times over, when the amount of potential lost revenue is taken into consideration.

Of course, sales training is not just about the final negotiating stages. Unless your organisation has a particularly strong brand name or reputation, it is unlikely that enough new custom will come to you without you having to do any sort of marketing or sales initiative. A strong sales force who can go out into the market and win new orders – perhaps even from those who weren’t actually thinking about buying your product or service before they were contacted and persuaded by your sales team! – can multiply revenue and significantly boost the company’s financial performance.

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Paradigm Psychometric Profilers

Business Psychometric Profilers

Every employee and manager within your business is different. As good business coaches know, different individuals are motivated by different things at work. This means that in order to get the best out of each and every one, there will be different ways and methods of achieving this aim. What might work for one person could have a significant detrimental effect upon the motivation, productivity and general morale of another.

Psychometric reports can provide valuable information on the personal characteristics and development requirements of employees. This knowledge can be of enormous value, as it provides you with a clear idea about that motivates each one and what steps you could take, such as carrot or stick, in order to get them to maximise their potential.

Read More

Be Effective

At the BCF Group, all of our business coaching, executive coaching and mentoring programmes are designed to bring truly effective results to our clients.

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Be Efficient

An efficient, well-trained, motivated and collaborative workforce communicates well, pushes forward ideas, looks for innovation and will go the extra mile.

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Be Innovative

We pride ourselves on being innovative and pioneering when it comes to business coaching, management development and our other areas of L&D expertise.

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Be Successful

Every programme that we have ever designed and delivered has been created in order to generate success and progression for you or your employees.

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Contact Us

Please use the form below to get in touch. Alternatively, please call us on 0844 800 3295.

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