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What is Business Coaching?

Definition of Business Coaching

Happy motivated employees high five

There are numerous variations of the term coaching and indeed business coaching and yes, they're pretty much alike. Here at the BCF Group, we like to keep things as succinct as possible rather than complicating everything or unnecessarily reinventing the wheel.

Keeping that in mind, this is the definition we've chosen to answer the question "What is business coaching?":

"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."

That said, coaching is a mechanism/technique of transitioning someone from their present state to their desired state (P»D).

However you get from P»D, business coaching can bring unparalleled results in terms of ROI. Engaging a business coach will allow you to explore all possible options and boundaries from an independent and objective view point where bureaucracy and politics don't exist. A good coach will ask you the right questions and free your mind of obstructions so you create the winning formula you need.

Business coaching is therefore different to conventional training. It does not seek to teach a person knowledge and information about a particular topic or subject area, but instead aims to work with them using effective discussions to come up with suitable action plans for changing their current situation, with regards to developing and advancing their abilities, motivation, or whatever areas there is a need for improvement in.


The Different Types of Business Coaching

Adding further to the complication of trying to define business coaching is the fact that the coaching itself can take different forms. The processes are typically very similar for all, but sessions are tailored to specific objectives and the individual being coached.


Executive Coaching
A smiling corporate executive

Corporate executives, company directors and senior managers all have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders. They have to make big decisions that can ultimately make or break the company. Quite often, these decisions can be difficult and unpleasant, such as having to lay off a large number of employees in order to reduce costs.

Whilst there may be an unfair perception of corporate executives as uncaring, cold-hearted individuals who are quite happy to make decisions in the boardroom and pocket exorbitant salaries, the reality is that many do actually care about their workers and hate having to take such decisions.

A good executive coach will understand that high salaries do not take away feelings, despite what the public may think, and that the pressure and psychological impact of having to make such decisions will weigh heavily on most executives. 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.


Life Coaching
Happy woman enjoying life

Instead of focusing on business issues, life coaching sessions deal with an individual's personal goals and objectives. These can include such things as earning more money, having positive relationships, losing weight etc.

It is surprising how a lot of coaches and coaching providers separate life coaching into a separate item which is performed by different coaches, and for some reason is kept completely distinct from business coaching.

In the examples above, all three of those personal aspirations can have a strong impact upon your work performance too:

  • Earning more money would come about as a consequence of getting a raise or being promoted, both of which are linked to job performance.
  • Having positive relationships with others would improve your teamworking and communication skills. It may make you more assertive and confident, which could lead to a new managerial role.
  • Losing weight may seem like a purely personal goal which would have no impact on what you do at work. However, if it makes you happy and improves your mood, you will probably be far 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.

Performance Coaching
A performance coaching session

Performance coaching is the most similar to business coaching, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. Whilst the term business coaching can be somewhat vague and all-encompassing, performance coaching 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 the 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 as them, particularly if they are seen as able to get away with it.

This is just one reason why managers are so willing to invest in coaching for their employees, as it can provide a tremendous return on investment, especially over the long term.



Who is Business Coaching For?

Business coaching can be applied to any employee within an organisation no matter where they are in the company hierarchy, or their current level of performance. From executive coaching for a company director, right through to coaching a front line member of staff, business coaching can help to bring out the best in the individual and help to remove the barriers that are preventing them from reaching their full potential.


For the individuals with challenges

A balanced, unemotional and realistic approach is needed to take stock of a situation that all too often can get out of hand. With the current issues surrounding employment law, over-regulation and tribunal mayhem, the coaching approach used allows for a situation to be reviewed objectively with positive outcomes for all parties.


For poor performers

Coaching will challenge individuals to take control of their own destiny, almost becoming an entrepreneur within your organisation. For this to happen, in conjunction with their BCF Group business coach, individuals will learn to look at, and take responsibility for, their own professional development. They will put the steps in place to work to achieve their aim, whilst all the time working on the mental as well as the skills side of things.


For successful individuals

Moving forward with clarity, certainty and a balanced view is essential. Taking time out to look at your own skills, development and innovation is essential. Individuals will be presented with the rare opportunity to share thoughts, ideas and direction with an experienced business coach who in turn will be challenging and pragmatic right back.

Where your coaching journey begins and ends is up to you. In general our experience shows that there is an initial high-energy burst, which lasts about 4-6 months (probably equivalent to about 1-2 sessions per month), then as techniques are shared and learnt this reduces to fit in with your work schedule, normally every quarter. Throughout this whole process ongoing contact via email, mobile, office and text messaging is available as required.



What Business Coaching is Not

Along with looking at what business coaching is, it is also useful to learn what business coaching is not.


Training. Business coaching is very different to a training course. Trainers typically stand at the front of a classroom and impart their knowledge and wisdom. Whilst there will be some back-and-forth interaction, for the most part it is the trainer talking and the students sat listening to the information being taught. The session is entirely led by the trainer.

With business coaching, the coach acts more as a guide, and encourages the person being coached to do most of the talking. Rather than providing that person with answers, the coach will work with the individual in identifying issues, and steer them into coming up with solutions and the steps to take in order to overcome them.


Counselling. Many of the issues that come up during a coaching session can be tough and sometimes distressing. But whereas counselling aims to deal with and reconcile problems from the past, business coaching usually tries to leave the past in the past and focus solely on future targets and ambitions.

Everyone is affected and influenced by past experiences, and it is somewhat naïve of many coaching providers to try and separate the past and the future so neatly and distinctly (Related External Page: The Difference Between Coaching and Therapy is Greatly Overstated). But counselling and business coaching are different in their primary focus of how they aim to help a person with their life.


A Source of Quick and Easy Answers. Anyone who goes into a series of coaching sessions looking for quick and easy answers to all of their issues will be sadly disappointed.

Not only do coaches not provide all of the answers, but they will probably not know the answers. This may sound extremely strange, and it would be if they were there to provide training (which you already know they're not if you've read above!), but the fact is nobody knows you or your specific situations anything like as well as you do. The coach can guide and ask the right questions, but it will be up to you to come up with solutions and practical steps to take. They are there to assist you in concentrating on what is important and the most effective way to achieve these goals.



How Effective is Coaching?

A survey carried out by Vision Quest demonstrated that there is growing evidence about just how effective executive coaching and business coaching is, and how widespread it has become.


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.



The Benefits of Business Coaching

There are some considerable benefits to business coaching or executive coaching. At the end of the day, it all comes down to how you face challenges, difficulties, and failures. Every company faces these things. Every executive will find themselves facing off against a seemingly impossible task, or living with the fallout of a seemingly monumental failure.

It is important to remember that we are not defined solely by these failures and challenges. Ultimately, we are defined by how we deal with these elements. To that end, the value of business coaching or executive coaching can prove to be immense.


What Are The Benefits Of A Business Coach?

Resist the potentially destructive belief that you must always go it alone, or that your team needs to address things amongst their own little collective, without relying on outsiders. Instead, consider the value of coaching and mentoring through the perspective of a professional:

  • It brings back your focus: Becoming overwhelmed by tasks and responsibilities is natural. Business coaching can work to cut through the static, and help you to focus on the things that really matter.
  • It gives you crystal clear goals for the short-term and long-term: Mentoring through executive coaching can serve to help you 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 what you can gain from a business coach. 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 the fact that it can bring in an outsider for your brainstorming sessions. This is a concept that you might be suspicious of. However, it's worth keeping the possibility in mind. A business coach can provide a sounding board for ideas, as well a potential creative force that can help you to see things you never would have discovered on your 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.
  • It brings you to a well of experience: Any business coach worth your time and money will have more experience than you, or anyone else at your company. It is rare that we have the opportunity to profit from such experience.


The Role of a Coach


Managers as Coaches

Coaching a group of individuals in a business is a tricky task, but can often play a key role in the achievement or non-achievement of goals. Some of the best managers of a businesses will not only have the necessary management skills required to run a business, but will also be effective coaches who can get the best out of their workers.


What Makes a Good Business Coach?

A good business coach will have a number of characteristics which make them good at the task. The best coaches realise the need for continuous improvement of their own skills, and fortunately, even someone who does not posses certain qualities or is lacking in certain areas can become more proficient through attending business coaching courses which help with their development.

Although it is one of their primary functions, a coach does more than just support, encourage and inspire. There needs to be a purpose or reason for the 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 for another, undetermined day sometime in the future.

Business coaches also understand that often true success comes from people working as a team rather than simply a collection of individuals. By emphasising and developing team work within the business, the coach will help instil the feeling amongst workers that the goals of the business come before individual achievements.



The Need for Theory and Practice in Business Coaching


Becoming an Effective Coach and Mentor

Being an effective business coach requires a diverse array of skills, but two ingredients which are essential are large amounts of theory and practice in and regarding business coaching and mentoring others.


The Need for Both Theory and Practice

Like any skilful ability, theory and practice are required to become good at it. Having one without the other will severely hamper the possibility of progression to an elevated level. Without practical coaching experience, no amount of theory will enable a person to go straight into the world of coaching and mentoring, as textbooks and course tutors can only impart so much; they will not be able to provide certain skills which need to be acquired over time such as developing a rapport with vastly differing personalities for instance.

Similarly, without an appropriate level of coaching theory it will be impossible to practice business coaching techniques or in any way be an effective coach. Trying to conduct a business coaching session without a thorough grounding and teaching of how to conduct a high quality coaching meeting will likely end up in wasted time and frustration for all parties concerned.


The Importance of Experience in Business Coaching

Another key element of becoming an effective and successful business coach is experience. Coaching theory is all well and good, and of course is essential, but experience and practice will be the things which transform a rather ineffective business coach into a great one who can help bring about a significant increase in performance and overall contribution to the business from both managers and employees alike.


You Need to be Good at it if it is Your Job

So like all skills, workplace coaching and mentoring requires a mix of theoretical teaching and real-life practice to get anywhere near to a high level. Whereas skills for recreational activities such as playing tennis do not matter all that much if a person is engaged in the activity just for fun, when coaching and mentoring others is part or all of their job role it is imperative that they are good at it. If not, they run the risk of being replaced by someone who can provide coaching much more effectively and get far greater results.


Recommended Course: ILM Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring

A coaching qualification such as the ILM Level 5 Certificate will provide a comprehensive amount of coaching and mentoring theory to aspiring business coaches. It is suitable for existing coaches and mentors who wish to improve or update their skills, as well as those who are completely new to a coaching and mentoring role.



Next Step

Now that you have read about what business coaching is and what it is not, why not click on one of the links below to see how we at The BCF Group can assist you with your business coaching requirements?



Executive Coaching

Executive coaching is business coaching for senior executives within an organisation. Often these people have very little available time and have to fit their business coaching sessions in between important meetings and other work commitments.

Executives and senior managers typically have great responsibilities on their shoulders as they make significant decisions which can affect the fate of the entire company.

Click Here for Executive Coaching


Become a Business Coach

Have you ever considered becoming a business coach? Have you been given the task by your manager of providing business coaching to members of your workforce? If so, then achieving a qualification like the ILM Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring will give the prospective coach the information they need to become an effective business coach of others, and as such be instrumental in the development of their colleagues for the benefit of the company. For more information about the ILM Level 5 Coaching Certificate please click on the button below.

View ILM Level 5 Coaching Qualification


Coaching for You

Along with providing courses which help you to develop the skills to become a successful business coach, here at the BCF Group we also have experienced business coaches who provide coaching to individuals from a great variety of industries and with different levels of responsibility.

Business coaching is highly personalised, and every individual will have different needs, requirements and workplace issues. To get in touch, please call us on 0844 800 3295 or send us an online contact form by clicking on the button below.

Click Here to Contact Us


How Can We Help?

The BCF Group have helped create coaching cultures in many businesses and organisations. We've been involved from inception, aiding the coaching culture strategy, delivering the skills to the aspiring business coaches, assisted them through their ILM coaching programme, supervised their initial 1 to 1 business coaching sessions, ran the coaching clinics and assessed the coaches on an annual basis. We also help evaluate the programme to ensure a sustainable and ongoing coaching culture.

For more information regarding business coaching and how we can assist you and your organisation, please use the links at the top of the page to navigate around the site, and to view details of our open courses such as the ILM Level 5 coaching course.

Alternatively, contact us by telephone on 0844 800 3295 or send us an online contact form by clicking on the button below.

Contact Us


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Related Courses

Please see below for some business coaching courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

ILM Level 7 Qualifications in Executive Coaching and Mentoring

ILM Level 7 Qualifications in Executive Coaching and Mentoring

The ILM Level 7 Qualifications in Executive Coaching and Mentoring 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.

It is for those executive coaches who wish to accredit, validate or enhance their skills with an internationally-recognised executive coaching qualification.

Click Here for More Information


ILM Level 5 Qualifications in Coaching and Mentoring

ILM Level 5 Qualifications in Coaching and Mentoring

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.

This programme has been created to sharpen a leader's skills - enabling them to balance control, commitment and empowerment through productive conversations with individuals and teams.

Click Here for More Information


Master Coaching Diploma

Master Coaching Diploma from the BCF Group

This course enables participants to develop their understanding of executive coaching and mentoring, to explore the underpinning psychological theories of coaching and to practise and apply their skills within a non-directive, non-judgemental framework.

At the BCF Group, we use a powerful blend of coaching concepts and practical skills-based development to support the enhancement of executive coaching and leadership mentoring skills in an organisation.

Click Here for More Information


Advanced Coaching Certificate

Advanced Coaching Certificate from the BCF Group

Based on our extensive work and experience with leaders, both in the private and public sectors; this course has been designed to develop the capability of leaders to positively impact the performance of individuals and teams. We are experts at unlocking peak performance.

Coaching and mentoring improves relationships, performance and engagement. This programme has been created to sharpen a leader's skills - enabling them to balance control, commitment and empowerment through productive conversations with individuals and teams.

Click Here for More Information


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