In our previous blog post, we explained that a business coach will look at a business as a whole and help a business owner gain greater clarity and confidence about what they want from, or for their business and how best to achieve it given their context, values, needs and preferences.
The Scope of Business Coaching: Holistic or Specific
The scope of what a business owner may want from, or for their business will vary from one person and context to the next. One owner’s focus might be holistic whereas another may wish to prioritise a particular challenge or opportunity, such as:
Build collective leadership capability to grow future earnings & increase asset value
Systemise sales and value-delivery processes to enable scale
Evolve company culture to accelerate commercial performance
Refine organisation design, accountabilities and responsibilities to increase efficiency and effectiveness
Develop tools and methods to better manage the capacity of a business
Rationalise the customer base in order to free capacity and build more profitable growth
The Domain of a Business Coach
All of these challenges and opportunities along with many more we could add to the list fall under four broad areas that are in the domain of a business coach:
The ways in which a business is structured, resourced and managed
The way it operates day to day to source and serve its customers
Envisioning, planning and preparing for the future evolution of the business
Its culture and the extent to which this helps or hinders all of the above
The Perspective of a Business Coach
Whatever the scope of the challenge, a good business coach will seek to understand it through all of these lenses and identify why it has arisen and where best to focus effort to deliver the desired outcome. The evolutions to culture required to accelerate company performance will be very different according to the history of the business, the extent to which culture has evolved by default rather than by design and its future ambitions, for example.
Similarly, a problem in generating sufficient sales may not stem from the capability of the sales team: it may be the result of an uncompetitive product, a business that is poorly positioned in its market or a channel that has become inefficient or obsolete. A key skill of the business coach will be to help the owner distil the root causes of a challenge rather than being distracted by the outcomes.
A Systemic Approach
Every business is a complex system and adjustments to one part will affect others, sometimes including elements that are external to the business itself. Introducing new leadership capabilities such as more rigorous business case modelling, for example, may have implications for others in the value-chain.
Coach and Business Owner: Complementary Skill Sets
The business owner will understand this system better than anyone else in most cases, as they will have built it in whole or part. It is not the role of the business coach to replicate their insight. Rather the coach should complement the owner’s insights with their own, giving them a new perspective informed by the coach’s experiences in a wider cross-section of businesses and sectors. This blend of skills, knowledge, experiences and insights should equip the owner to better anticipate the various effects a particular strategy may have on the system as a whole and to decide what if anything to do about them.
So far we have given examples of challenges a business coach can help with, explained the overall domain of a business coach and how their skills and experience should complement the client’s, and mentioned three critical elements that will influence the approach a business coach will take to a given challenge: the desired outcome, the context and the systemic considerations.
Coaching and Training: The Fit
It follows from all of the above that there is rarely one size that fits all the challenges a business coach is typically hired to help with. Nonetheless, there may be off-the-shelf business tools and methods that form part of a solution, are common to many businesses and for which training is widely available.
The training itself will be the domain of a specialist trainer whereas the focus of the business coach will be to understand how this part of the jigsaw fits with and affects all others to deliver the desired outcome(s).
In summary, a professional and experienced business coach can help with a wide variety of challenges in most domains of the business. The scope of these challenges can vary considerably from how efficiently and effectively a business is fulfilling a particular function to the speed at which it is progressing overall towards the longer-term outcomes desired by the owners.
The particular focus of a business coach will be to understand each challenge in its wider context and to develop a sustainable solution that addresses the root causes or opportunity taking into account the values, needs and preferences of the owner and the ways in which a business has evolved, is resourced and operates today and is planning to develop into the future.
Would you like to find out more about improving your business with the help of a business coach? Contact us online or call 0345 222 5618 to start the conversation.