Your business coaching will follow an organized process from start to finish. Each step will involve different aspects of coaching, and the process itself can be customized to the needs of your client and your own personal coaching style. The process that you create for your coaching does not need to follow the format laid out in this article, but it can be used as a guide as you make your own.
Remember, these steps are not a firm outline that you are required to follow to a T. Changes can be made, and you should consider implementing a degree of flexibility into your own coaching process design.
Preparation-Preparation is the planning and background portion of the process. During this time, you will look at the client, their goals, the business, and/or industry that they are a part of, and your abilities. You should use this time to adequately prepare for anything that may prove to be an obstacle during coaching. Ask questions about your coaching and your client and think about what challenges can arise. 1 Some questions you may consider asking:
What angle can you take in approaching your client's problems and goals? What are those problems anyway and how can they arise?
How much time is going to be needed to work on the client's goals? Is there a limit for what you or they have available?
What limits does your client have? What are your limits? How can those limits affect your coaching?
Are there incentives you can use for your client during coaching? How much of a difference could they possibly make on the outcome?
What factors are going to be in your control during coaching? What factors are not going to be under your control?
Contract- The contract step in the coaching process is the point in which you can smooth out all the details of your relationship. It the point in which you and the client will work on the more formal aspects of coaching, including any paperwork and the financial aspects of the arrangement. 2
For this step, you should look at the following to make sure that everyone involved is on the same page:
Start-up Session-The start-up session in the coaching process-which will be the longest-is designed to establish the tone for the rest of the sessions. During this time, you should work on establishing the relationship between you and the client. 4 A weak relationship will cause problems with the coaching, making it harder to accomplish anything. Your client will need to be able to trust you, and you them. The start-up session is often an opportunity to form and strengthen that necessary trust in your relationship with the client.
Some business coaches view the start-up session as the practice run for future sessions. It can be used to work out any hiccups that arise before they become problematic. Your client may have never worked with a business coach before and will need some time to adjust to the process, which the start-up session can do. Think of it like this: the start-up session for your client is like having training-wheels on their bike. It serves to allow them to learn the ropes in a controlled environment where the focus is on their adaptation to the routine, not results.
Regular Session-Your regular coaching sessions should include an established routine, which you can work out with your client during the start-up session. Each session should include some commonalities between all of the sessions for the sake of continuity.
The following are suggested aspects that you may want to consider apply continuity to. You may find other elements that you may want to keep the same for each session, but having some level of continuity is recommended.
Final Session-The final session should be somewhat different from the rest of the sessions you have with your clients. Hence, it is often seen as a separate step in the coaching process. Like the start-up session, the final session may be longer than a regular session. This will depend on what you have planned for your regular sessions and how they have progressed up until this point.
For the final session, you may choose to do an assessment of your client's progress. This will serve to determine if the coaching has been successful, and what additional work may be needed for your client. It can also allow you to determine if you as a coach has successful in your efforts to reach your client's goals and objectives. You have the option of extending the contract between you and the client at this time, especially if they still need help with their goals. While you may have done your best as a coach, it can happen and you should not become discouraged. Many coaches choose the final session as the end of their coaching process and you are free to do so.
Wrap-up-The wrap-up is often paired with the final session, but some coaches may choose to have it as a separate step. The purpose behind it is to tie up any loose ends from the earlier steps in the coaching process. By this point, you should have achieved the main objectives-your client's goals-for the coaching arrangement. Some things you may want to address, if you have not already done so by now, during the wrap-up step may include some of the following:
Post Coaching-This final step is not always going to be a part of your coaching process, depending on your coaching style and your client. It can be used for a number of reasons, in a number of ways. Mainly, this step should be used to make sure that all of the work that you and the client have put into the coaching process has actually worked. 5
The Skills Required for Business Coaching
In order to have a successful business coaching career, you need to have the right skills. There is more to business coaching than telling someone what to do to make themselves better professionally. You need to know how to interact with your clients and how to deal with the problems that they bring to you. Often, your skills are not only going to be what you use to coach your clients, but you will often teach those same skills to them as well.
Clients will often look at the skillset of business coaches when they are looking for one. Making sure that your skills are not only what they are looking for, but are also up to the standards of the industry and your customer base. This article will cover some of the most common and prized skills in the business coaching industry. While there are additional skills that you may bring in that you acquired through experience, the follow are typically the main skills you will use as a business coach.
Effective communications skills are considered to be the number one skill that all business coaches should have and maintain. Communicating is the main aspect of coaching and business, and poor communications skills will not get you very far in any professional field. Your communications skills will form the basis for the rest of the skills you need as a business coach, like those listed in this article.
Your communication skills as a business coach can affect many different aspects of your career, such as:
Things have a habit of not going according to what people plan, and it's often why clients will approach a business coach for help. Your job is to help them work through their problems as efficiently as possible. Most coaches see their coaching as an approach that goal and solution oriented. 1 You need to have effective problem solving skills so you can help guide your clients through their own issues. This means looking for solutions, alternative answers, and what obstacles can prevent those goals from being accomplished.
If you are unsure if your problem solving skills are up to par for business coaching, or you want to keep them well honed, then you can try a few things. Many professionals who need to have strong problems solving capabilities will do exercises to keep their minds sharp and put aside their emotions. 2 Some exercises that you can try to keep your problems solving skills sharp could include the following:
Coaching is rarely ever a one-sided affair. Your client will not be the only one in the session who will be receiving information and learning. Listening is a valuable skill in business coaching because you need to be able to take feedback on your work in order to make improvements. If your client has a concern at any point in the coaching process, it is your responsibility to listen and figure out what can be done to alleviate it.
Your listening skills will need to cover more than hearing the words your clients says, but also things like body language and facial expressions. 3 Especially during the early stages of your professional relationship, your client may not verbally express their concerns or frustrations with something you are doing in your coaching. Sometimes, a coaching method just isn't working for the client but they don't want to say anything about it for fear of causing a problem. The client may not even consciously realize that they have a problem with an aspect of the coaching! Listening to non-verbal cues like body language can be the fastest, strongest, and most honest feedback that you can get during a coaching session.
If you need to develop your questioning skills, you may want to take a simpler approach. Look at the "who," "what," "why," "where," "when," and "how" of the coaching relationship with your client. Asking basic questions of your client, sometimes as simple as "What is it you want to accomplish?" Many business coaches who have been in the business for years recommend asking questions that are open-ended instead of questions focused on solving problems. 4
The questions you ask your clients should focus on three things:
It may seem like an odd requirement, but being able to ask the right questions as a business coach is key. This skillset is often used for the sake of determining what your client's goals and objectives are for the coaching process. Most of the time, effective questioning is reliant on how the questions are phrased. As a result, some business coaches see this skill as a subset of their communications abilities. However, it is possible for a person to be able to ask compelling questions but have poor communication skills, and vice versa.
As a business coach, you want to develop a relationship with your client in order to ensure the best outcome. This relationship will be built on trust and support, which can be gained through empathy. Most people think that empathy is simply caring about another person's emotional state, but it goes far beyond that. To be empathetic is to be aware of a person's emotions and relate to them. 5 It also keeps you human while you coach and can keep your coaching from coming across as robotic or too much like a drill sergeant.
Business coaches who are able to emphasize with their clients during coaching sessions are often viewed as more trustworthy compared to coaches who do not display empathy. If your client does not trust you, then it is unlikely that they will be fully honest with you about their problems during coaching. Clients who see their empathetic coaches are more likely to lean on them for support when they need it. That trust and support is necessary to your coaching relationship with your client because conflict can arise between the two of you without it. Simply, you want to do whatever you can to help your client, and being unfeeling will only start a fight and do harm.
Coaches who emphasize with their client's struggles find that it is easier for them to pick up on their client's struggles. As discussed with the skill of listening, clients do not always say what is on their mind and many not be fully aware of their own emotional state. Empathy can be another way of translating the meanings behind your clients' body language, thus making it easier for you to adequately complete your role in the relationship. It will also make any interactions between you and your client go much smoother and easing any awkwardness that may arise during the early stages of the coaching process.
Another skill that you will need as a business coach is efficiency. In other words, you need to be able to do what you do as effectively as possible without making unnecessary detours in the process. Business coaches who are efficient tend to not waste their client's time. When they are looking for a solution for a problem, they do so with the intent of finding it as quickly as possible and without messing around.
If you're unsure if you and your coaching abilities are truly efficient, look at your personal coaching process. What are the parts of it are vital to reaching clients' goals and what isn't? Do you have irrelevant tasks for your clients to do that really don't accomplish anything? Go through your methods and cut out anything that isn't truly needed. Look at what you've done with past clients and go through evaluations and reviews. What worked? What didn't work? If you want to hone your efficiency skills, try cutting out the fat from your coaching.
Clients will look for business coaches who are efficient, often looking at how they apply their skills, how organized they are, and their time management capabilities. They will look at how well you do something and how long it takes you to do it. If you have a lot of unwanted fluff and filler in your coaching, clients are going to think that you are just looking to waste their time in exchange for money. The more efficient you are, the more likely clients will see you as a competent business coach worthy of their time and efforts.