Successfully Engaging A Business Coach

Acuity Group

Engaging a business coach can be a powerful step in your journey to success in business.

When you’ve thought about the Big Why (what a coach can do for you and what that will cost), how do you seek out and choose the right coach? And how do you get the most from their coaching?

The right coach is a personal question. A great coach with the wrong business owner might not work out. And some coaches just aren’t up to required standard.

Sport gives us some good examples of both challenges.

In March, Trevor Gleeson won his fourth NBL title as coach of the Perth Wildcats. Gleeson had coached across the world and with Townsville and Melbourne in the NBL without particular success. Following a stint in the AFL, he signed as coach of the Wildcats and won the NBL title in his first year. Gleeson has followed that success with a further 3 championships in 5 seasons.

In 1999, Damian Drum was appointed coach of the Fremantle Dockers. Drum was regarded as a promising young coach in the AFL. His Dockers won just 13 games in time as coach. Drum was sacked after 9 straight losses to open his third season. He never coached in the AFL again. In fact, his next and final season was with the Bendigo Diggers, who finished winless. Drum quit football and became a politician.

So, as owner of your ‘team’, how do you choose the right coach and get the best results. How do you get Wildcats Gleeson not Crocs Gleeson? How do you avoid a Drum?

The first step is to define your coaching goals: “Begin with the end in mind”. Steven Covey coined this phase in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It means that you need to imagine what you want to become and what you want for your business.

Once you’ve chosen your coach, you two will work to understand gaps in your knowledge. These are barriers to achieving your vision. You and your coach can then refine the goals and expectations for your coaching.

That makes engaging with the right coach critical.

Coaches come in many forms. From many backgrounds. They deliver value and experience on many fronts – both business and personal.

With you coaching goals in mind, you should have a good understanding of the type of coach best placed to deliver those goals. As with anyone you with whom you work, you need to do your research. Test that your coach has the experience they claim.

Make sure the coach has a structured program – sitting down for a coffee once a month to chat has no sustainable value for you. Make sure you understand your prospective coach’s implementation path and inventory of tools.

Remember that your coach can’t run your business for you. They’re not the captain/coach. You engage a coach to provide you with an impartial eye and the confident hand of experience. This allows a coach to suggest the right tool to overcome the challenge you’re facing or take on an opportunity.

You’re going to be paying for your coach’s time and expertise. Don’t waste both by not focusing exclusively on your coaching session. Clear your calendar. Leave your phone outside the room. Tell your staff not to interrupt you. Do whatever you need to do to be 100% focused on your coaching session each time. Focus delivers results.

Another way to waste your coaching is not being open and honest. Sitting and telling someone the problems you’re experiencing can be intimidating. It can be embarrassing. You can be fearful, angry, worried, nervous. Your coach isn’t there to judge you. They are there to understand the challenges and help you work through to the best outcomes. They can’t do that unless you are open and honest.

So, it’s going to be challenging. Possibly confronting. Coaching is fundamentally about shifting your thinking. Those thoughts can be ingrained over years and become habits in your business. They can be damaging to your business goals. Your coach’s job is to understand those thoughts and habits and help you shift them. The deeper ingrained the thoughts and habits, the harder they are to shift.

This next bit is really important.

The value – the return on your investment – of your coaching doesn’t come from the sessions. It comes from you implementing the decisions you reach at the sessions with the support of the coach.

If you walk out of the session and nothing changes, you’ve wasted your time, effort and thought. When you diligently implement those decisions, it gives your coaching sessions momentum and allows your coach to deliver their program to you.