An article released by the Harvard Business Review posed an important question in the title: What can coaches do for you? As authors Diane Coutu and Carol Kauffman point out in their research, the coaching industry’s rapid evolution over the past ten years created so many misconceptions and blurred lines, that even most interested clients honestly do not know the answer.
Ten years ago, coaching began as something companies used to fix internal problems or toxic behavior in the workplace. Today, individuals tend to hire coaches to help achieve their personal professional goals. This transition from problem solving to positive goal achievement through one-on-one guidance has created a dynamic in which coaches borrow from consulting and therapy to help clients find success. The reason it’s working – evidenced by coaching increasingly in demand by more professionals – is the combination of a number of macroeconomic and labor trends, alongside professionals recognizing their own needs to thrive in the workplace. The article’s authors sum up what coaches can do for you in in three pithy bullet points:
“Coaching focuses on the future,
fosters individual performance in a business context, and
helps executives discover their own path”
This individualized approach to success requires the professional working with a coach to have a clear understanding of what a successful coaching relationship should be. There are no standardized methods across the industry, but good chemistry with a coach, and a willingness to be open to advice and adopt change on the client’s part, are an absolute must. While coach reputations or experience levels are important factors in whether a professional is attracted to a particular coach, these pale in comparison to personality fit because the trust that comes from having good chemistry is what allows a client to feel comfortable applying a coach’s advice. This is essential to coaching success.
Precise measurement of success can be difficult though. The impact of coaching can take time to play out and often clients are still reluctant to openly credit either their success to a coaching process until much later. In fact, fewer than one fourth of the coaches surveyed by the Harvard Business Review said they provide any kind of quantitative data on business outcomes of their coaching work. This underscores the importance of measuring qualitative results for one’s self. To read more about the potential benefits or concerns when it comes to coaching, read more here.