A good business coach will understand that what feels most important to different individuals and businesses, even in the face of similar circumstances, will vary widely. Nonetheless, there are five key improvements you should expect from working with a business coach which we will consider in this blog. These are:
The energetic demands of running a business are considerable: they can take a toll which if left unmanaged, may gradually alter your mindset and behaviour and become ingrained in the culture of your business. A common example of this is your team playing the ‘Simon says…’ card, where Simon is the exhausted business owner who increasingly defaults to telling his team what to do, because it’s easier than coaching them to work out solutions for themselves.
The end result is a team that no longer feels it has permission to take decisions. Instead, everyone tries to anticipate what Simon wants and in the event of a conflict, one or other team member plays the trump card: ‘Simon says’...
Gradual behaviour change and its personal and cultural impact are difficult to notice amidst the everyday challenges of running a business. The underlying reasons can be even harder to identify and point out when the person involved is your employer (or overwrought spouse).
When you start working together, a good coach will seek to understand what is consuming most of your energy and why. If the answer is unhelpful to you or the progress of your business, they will work with you to redress this early on so that you can recover your equilibrium and with it, your capacity to be the leader you want to be and exert the influence you want to have on your team and business.
With our energy restored, most of us will be better able to view our situation clearly. Once again, however, habit can kick in and focus our renewed energy on the day to day challenges and tasks. The ‘recharged’ business owner becomes a behavioural model for ‘working the detail’ and ‘getting stuff done’ rather than ensuring that everyone is focused on ‘doing the right stuff’.
A good coach will help you step back and first check that the daily efforts of your team are in pursuit of outcomes that you have consciously chosen and still want.
Your business is an asset and should deliver the returns on your investment of time, effort and resource that you choose. What this means in practice will be unique to you: the important thing is that you have them clearly in mind and that your business is being designed, resourced and managed to deliver them.
This may involve slowing down in order to ‘course correct’ before creating the renewed focus and alignment that will ultimately help your team to accelerate towards its goals.
You are clear about the outcomes you want and are all too aware of how much there is to do to achieve them. Your next decision is where to focus first for greatest effect.
A business coach will help you work this through and ensure that your priorities address the lead activities that will ultimately deliver the outcomes you want. The trap for the unwary here is to focus on symptoms rather than root causes, which will keep you and your team busy but will not grow your business.
A typical example of addressing symptoms is to criticise the Sales Director for not hitting targets (symptom) without first reviewing the possible causes: whether your product and price points are still competitive, the business is appropriately positioned and branded to appeal to its prospective customers and is present in the channels where those customers most want to buy, for example.
Very many small and even mid-sized businesses unwittingly ignore strategy altogether: they have great ideas (or so they believe), generate energy (and often, group-think) around them and jump straight into implementation. Then the problems start: unanticipated challenges, competing demands on time and resources, imbalanced workloads, disagreement about the best way to proceed, unclear roles and accountabilities. The perfect climate in which to play ‘Simon says’! A way of working that we might sum up as: ‘Ready, fire, sorry!’.
The absentee is any sort of written strategy: a summary of the key choices the business has made about what it will- and as importantly, will not invest in and do in order to produce the desired results within the desired timeframe; plus clarity about who will be accountable and responsible for different outcomes and actions.
The power of creating a written strategy, however simple, is that the paper becomes a focus for challenge and ultimately alignment and engagement before the strategy is translated into a detailed plan of action: a way of working we might call ‘Ready, aim, fire!’.
A coach will help you understand and apply this process, which will help you and your business align around a clear sense of direction and then implement more efficiently, and effectively.
As you implement your plans and periodically review your strategy, the temptation can arise to tell yourself what you most want to hear: that the pipeline of new business opportunities will convert into sufficient sales by the end of the quarter, that you will make up the time lost to date on the project or that the team has all the capabilities it needs.
A business coach will offer you an objective perspective on your performance and progress along with relevant insights, resources and methods to help you achieve your desired outcomes. The way in which they do this should leave you feeling supported and ultimately more resourceful, albeit the view they offer you may feel challenging in the moment it is delivered.
All of which should leave you feeling more energised, which brings us full circle.
In summary, a good business or executive coach will tailor their services to best respond to your context, needs and preferences. Whilst the detail will vary from one individual and business to the next, there are five areas of overarching improvement that you should expect from your investment in a coach: energy, clarity, priority, strategy and objectivity. Together, these will help you and your team work more efficiently and effectively towards the outcomes you want for yourself, and all of the stakeholders in your business.
If you would like help with any of the issues raised above, we’ll be happy to help you take steps towards improving your business. Contact us online or call 0345 222 5618.