Business coaching is becoming one of the most effective business tools to improve performance, and where it works well, results can be seen within days of the coaching session. Coaching as a technique though, is full of myths. The purpose of this article is to eradicate these common myths - and show you exactly what coaching can do to improve your performance at work.
- Myth number one - You have to be an expert to coach someone
Admittedly, you have to have strong rapport and credibility with the person you're coaching and this, sometimes, takes a little while. There are plenty of skills a good coach needs, however, you don't have to be an expert at the job the coachee does.
- Myth number two - Coaching is the same as training
Coaching and training are completely different activities although sometimes the skills are similar. Training is normally giving someone new information, skills or knowledge. Coaching is not giving anything, it is allowing the coachee to formulate their way forward, aligning their energy with their goals. It is working with the skills and knowledge they already have and applying them to the real world in a business environment.
However, don't think for a moment, that when you're coaching someone, an element of training is never needed.
- Myth number three - The coachee has goals
Coaching assumes, quite rightly, that every coachee has the answer. It may be buried deep in the crevices of their mind and will need weeding out - but it's there. A good coaching book will tell you to work with the coachee's goals. In fact models, such as Goals, Reality, Options, Wrap-up (GROW), rely on this totally.
However, my experience shows that not all business people have goals. In fact, very few have balanced goals that combine their business and personal life. Very few have properly aligned their goals to the type of person they are. Plenty have goals given to them by senior managers.
- Myth number four - You can't suggest anything in coaching
Offering suggestions really has to be the last resort. I recall my very earliest exposure to coaching. I recall being trained and being shot if you told the coachee what to do or machine gunned if you made a suggestion. This led to us developing the ability to lead in our questioning techniques.
Now there is nothing worse than leading someone with your questions. It is condescending and patronising. Imagine saying to an experienced salesperson, "Now bearing in mind the company's way of selling that product, how could you do it differently next time?". Ahrrrr! It would be far better to ask them how they do it next time in a more open manner. Give them time to respond, maybe probe a little more. If no response is forthcoming, follow up with, "May I make a suggestion?".
- Myth number five - Coaching gets few real results
Coaching is extremely generative. It feeds on results occurring, it revels in activity and goals. It's all about doing things in the future to make a difference. It is totally wrapped up in business, entirely relevant to the business person and really practical. It is owned by the person being coached, and what's more, it doesn't stop with one session.
Training is often criticised for not getting real results. Combine a traditional training course with a post-course coaching session with a delegate, and you can guarantee that the training gets results. Train your managers to coach their people after every training course, and you'll see more results than you've ever seen before.
- Myth number six - Coaching is only business related
It can be, but business people see the need these days for getting a life balance. Look at the executive who burns out because they cannot combine business with their personal life. Good coaching combines the two - it makes sure that the person's goals are aligned with their personal life and that their inner drive is used to promote their goals.
- Myth number seven - Feedback is the same as criticism
I've observed some feedback and, yes, it is like criticism, and you can't blame the coachee in clamming up and letting the coach steam into tell mode. Feedback is the breakfast of champions, goes the saying, and good feedback can make a massive difference to someone's performance. Good feedback can become culture within a company. Good feedback invites the coachee to discover the way forward themselves, as it is seen as constructive and generative.
The praise sandwich is often used. Hands up those people reading this article if they've seen or heard of it before. You receive some praise, and then you cringe, ready for the criticism.
So there we have seven coaching myths, hopefully, eradicated. Business coaching is a potent tool used in industry and can bring about an enormous increase in performance and results.
The last myth, which I haven't really included in my list of seven, but is important to highlight, came about when I was coaching some first-line managers in an insurance company recently. "I didn't think I was high enough in the pecking order to deserve one-to-one coaching" was the first reaction from my coachee. Anyone, whatever your position, can benefit from one-to-one coaching.
Paul Archer is an international speaker, trainer, author based in the UK. He works with companies across the globe to help them increase their sales results. Get your free Sales Excellence Ebook Chapter and MP3 download at www.rapportselling.com and visit http://www.paularcher.com/ for more free sales ideas.