In fields where an extremely high level of performance is expected, it is totally normal and accepted for individuals to have coaches. Perhaps the most obvious example is in the arena of sport. Even the most talented men and women in sport trust a coach to guide their progress in the unforgiving international arena. The best opera stars in the world, who perform night after night for critics and audiences, spend on average of fifteen years developing their art and skill with a vocal teacher and coach.
The truth is that in the sporting and music arena, coaches are not just there to teach and develop the skills needed to play tennis or sing Mozart; they actively help the individual to grow and learn how to set achievable short- and long-term goals, as well as how to deal with the disappointment when they fail.
So, why a corporate coach?
Perhaps you think that only an Olympic athlete really needs a coach, but have you thought of the potential that could be unlocked in the individuals who work in your business or team if they approached their jobs and the development of the company as a high-performance exercise? It is important to note that coaches do not fulfil the same role as a mentor, as they do not advise on the specifics of the job.
It is thought that it takes longer for powerful people in the business world (which is still male dominated) to admit they needed help. In the past it was seen as a sign of weakness, but perhaps the growing public awareness of personal growth and maybe even the presence of more women in the workplace have made it more acceptable. In any case, receiving coaching should not be seen as a remedy, but a way to make a good thing even better.
It is a way for your business to grow optimally rather than simply well or acceptably. Coaching is not just a fad that will blow over. Crawford Associates (seminar organisers) in the UK conducted a survey in which it was found that 75% of the largest companies use coaching as a way to train staff in some shape or form.
So what is it exactly that a corporate coach does?
Corporate coaches are highly intuitive and adaptable people who aim to help you unlock your creative and intellectual potential in the workplace. They build a trusting relationship with an individual and use a non-directive approach in their relationship with clients. They are trained to use techniques like skilful questioning to help the individual come up with their own solutions. Some companies make use of internal staff as coaches, but most companies prefer external coaches as it is easier to build up trust with someone who is not directly or indirectly involved in determining your salary, or possible promotion outcome.
Corporate coaching has developed mostly as a one-on-one relationship, but more and more companies are starting to use it in group and team context, which shifts the focus from personal development to team performance.
It is important to make sure that whoever you employ as a corporate coach is well suited to do so, because, as with any other industry, there are a lot of scammers out there. Always look for a company or individual with a proven track record and good references.
About the Author: Louisa Theart writes for a South African-based company that offers corporate, executive, and business coaching services.