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How to choose the right kind of coach for your business

Choosing the right kind of business coach isn’t easy but it is important. Read about how to determine what kind of coaching your business needs in this article I wrote for Forbes online magazine.

It’s one thing to recognize your organization is having a problem — it’s another thing to actively seek out a solution. Bringing in a coach helps employees gain more personal clarity, equipping them with people-relating attitudes and behaviors that help them reach solutions — and that is a good outcome for everyone at work. However, choosing the right coach for your organization can be difficult, especially since conversations about problems usually occur sometime before a decision maker starts to consider applying a coaching solution.

At Impact Management, a coaching company focused on leadership development, we’ve learned it’s critical to consider your company’s unique culture, background, and the education of your people — not to mention their willingness — when deciding on a coach.

Choosing a coach can be guided by three simple steps of consideration:

1. Consider the problem.

2. Consider the process.

3. Consider the person.

Consider The Problem

Since there are different types of coaches out there, much of the decision for choosing a coach depends on your problem. Teams may have productivity problems due to unclear communication, poor strategic planning, weak organizational structures and/or people issues. Each of these problems can benefit from multiple types of coaching.

If the problem is a people issue or personal development initiative, then a self-awareness coach is especially beneficial. A people skills coach, on the other hand, is useful when one or more employees are executing their roles but at high cost to their and others’ inner work life satisfaction. In other words, an employee who is low in people skills on any team is going to affect that team’s productivity and morale.

How do you know when to seek a coach? Managers do not wish to compromise their relationship with their colleagues or direct reports. Bringing in an objective person, who is highly experienced in such matters, is a more effective solution. Most of the time, without conflict resolution techniques, employees can achieve enough clarity with the help of a coach to find a resolution.

One way to decide if a people problem has truly gotten out of hand is to assess its frequency, difficulty and importance. For instance:

• How frequently do you face this problem or some symptom of the problem, or unwanted outcomes as a result of this problem?

• How difficult is this for people to deal with? Is this problem particularly stressful for specific individuals?

• How important is reducing this problem so it doesn’t impact team climate and goal progression? How important is the amount of energy being consumed on this problem? If this problem was removed, how would that affect the team climate?

Consider The Process

A coach comes with a specific toolkit to help clients reach more personal clarity. As a business leader, you may have little to go on other than testimonials from other clients or referrals, but most leaders know their culture and teams well enough to have a sense about whether a certain process is aligned with their goals or not.

A good process will be conducted in a timeframe the company can afford; it will engage employees immediately as it relates their current work activities and will have certain milestones with it to help each person learn in a paced-out manner. Leaders need to consider timing, group selection, learning readiness, environment and costs.

Expect the process to be effective for the majority of the team but not in the same way for each person. Though a good process allows for a wide variety of style, experience, and talent of an individual, this does not mean every person will make gains in the same way.

It is also important that the leader engages in the process him or herself. That’s because a good process is going to wake up employees. They’ll see the company and their part in it with fresh eyes, and they are going to want their boss to have had the same/similar type of epiphany.

Sometimes you just need to trust your gut and experience it in order to know if one process is better for your team vs. another. You’ll know when it works out: Employees will be thanking you for the opportunity.

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