Written By: Neil Shorney
Coaches may or may not be formal. In fact, some coaches may be performing these tasks naturally and providing valuable guidance simply by behaving in a way which comes naturally to them. For others, some structure is needed in order to get the best out of salespeople. In a business environment, it can be helpful to act as a mentor, passing on solid experience to the mentee.
What Is A Coach?
This may sound obvious, but coaches don’t only exist in sports. No, they exist in our business lives too, but (and I oughtn’t to generalise too much) they don’t necessarily look like sports coaches. They’re unlikely to be wearing a track suit, probably won’t be shouting across a sports field, and may well not have the type of physique which we’d usually associate with a coach. However, they exist even if the coach doesn’t actually know it.
Now what do I mean by this? I mean that unlike on the sports field, coaches might not even know that they’re coaching people. What they are doing, however, is guiding others towards success by using the right ideas, words and motivators to help others to achieve success.
Formal or Informal Coaching
Some coaches are formally charged with coaching others. We’ll call these people “Group A”. This is either their job, or part of another role, and they’ll be thinking a lot of the time about the steps needed to bring others to certain goals. In “Group B”, coaches don’t even know they’re coaching. Instead they either get satisfaction from helping others towards achievements, or they realize that in order to reach wider business goals, they need others to be performing at their best. Often the difference between the two types can actually become a difference in terminology and expertise. When we look at this, we realize that each group can learn from each other. More importantly, we can all learn from the methods, orientation, and success of coaches to improve the success of our team members, or in fact anyone in the organization.
The Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring
Starting with Group B, these people will often be mentors, rather than coaches. A mentor uses his or her expertise in the field to guide others along a path which they know, from their own experience, to be successful. In a sales situation, for example, the mentor might accompany the mentee to sales meetings, then de-brief afterwards to suggest areas for improvement, in a structured way, based on the mentor’s own experience as a salesperson. In this way, the mentor passes on his or her expertise to the mentee, guiding the mentee towards success.
Those who fall into Group A are actual coaches, rather than mentors. These people coach others towards success through helping them identify their own values, align goals to these, and then self-analyze in order to modify performance and behaviour to achieve success. It is not necessary for a coach to have any expertise in the field in which they’re coaching – the task is instead to ask pertinent questions and give valuable feedback to the client to enable that person to identify the steps needed to be successful.
Combining the Two for Business Success
As we’ve seen, coaches may or may not be formal, and in fact some coaches may be performing these tasks naturally and providing valuable guidance simply by behaving in a way which comes naturally to them. For others, some structure is needed in order to get the best out of others. In a business environment, it can be helpful to act as a mentor, passing on solid experience to the mentee and at the same time using coaching techniques to help the mentee to find their own route to achievement within the best practice of the mentor’s knowledge. For those who are new to this, here’s a suggested process to coach someone towards business goals.
1. Sit down with the mentee to discuss the task in which improvement may be needed.
2. Ask the mentee to describe the task as they understand it from the requirements given.
3. Drawing on experience, the mentor should offer guidance to clarify understanding.
4. Ask the mentee to rate their performance in the task on a scale of 1 to 10.
5. Discuss performance until both parties agree on a suitable score.
6. Request that the mentee describe how the task would have been performed differently if the score had be a 10.
7. Offer guidance where necessary.
8. Together, identify required actions to improve the mentee’s performance to a 10, as described by the mentee.
9. Obtain agreement to the actions required.
10. Follow up after an appropriate timescale to review progress.
Neil Shorney provides sales training in London and around the world through his company,…
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