10 tips for business coaching

A business coach can deliver a range of benefits to an organisation from growth through to inspiring  individuals and teams. But what should you expect from a business coach and what should a coach actually do.

Based on h2h’s extensive experience from supporting a range of organisations through change, here I share my ten top tips for what makes a great business coach.

1. Selflessness is key in coaching

Any coaching assignment is always about the business or person who has hired the coach. It is never about the coach’s own agenda, their experiences, opinions or thoughts. To be a great coach, they must believe in the resourcefulness and abilities of the other person. A great coach may not have the best (or any) answers, yet rather helps the other person to explore all of the options and then draw on their own knowledge, skills and experiences to find the right solution.

2. Business coaches deliver change

Put simply, business coaches always have to enable change and positive action. Anything else is just a chat.

3. Coaches must deliver trust

It is crucial that people being coached feel free to draw on their own resources and trust that their coach will help guide them through the process. To succeed they need to feel safe, free from being judged, free from any sense of foolishness and, critically, know that they are in a confidential environment.

4. Coaches are always equal

Regardless of the coach or coachees status or position outside the coaching environment, they are always equals when in conversation. Hierarchy cannot enter into coaching to ensure both parties can build complete trust and understanding, enabling a challenging and stretching environment.

5. Have clear guidelines for the coaching session

Before beginning, make sure you establish clear contracts and expectations so both parties understand exactly what is required of them. Make sure you both understand under what terms the conversation is taking place and what the desired outcomes are. This must be explicit and not implicit.

6. Always find the time and space for coaching

Both parties need to be relaxed, prepared and in the right environment for an effective coaching session. Make sure you arrange suitable times and a venue where you can minimise interruptions and guarantee both people can feel safe and willing to talk openly. Better to arrange an alternative mutually convenient time, than try and coach when it really is not the right time and place either for you or the coachee.

7. A business coach must be able to listen

Listening is the single most important element of successful coaching and coaches must be able to listen effectively. Listening can be divided into three levels and coaches must be skilled in all three. Level one listening is more about your own agenda, where you are waiting to speak and are more absorbed with what you are going to say. At level two great listening and questioning skills are being employed and a great coach is listening for what is not being said, working to get the most out of the coachee’s thinking. Level three is where the trust and rapport is such that you are listening to what is being said and what is not being said, but are also able to instantly respond and react to the emotional nuances of the coachee.

8. Coaches deliver great questions

Most leaders are skilled at asking some great challenging questions but then fall into the trap of also answering them themselves. Coaches must deliver short and incisive questions that leave space for  the coachee to think and develop their own answer.

9. A coach must provide a framework

To deliver the change and action every coach must aim for, it’s better to develop a clear framework that meets the agreed expectations. The most common framework is GROW (Goals, Reality, Options, Will) and this helps to establish a simple path to achieve the final objectives.

10. A coach must be prepared to adapt

While a structured approach is often the best way to deliver results, you must always expect the unexpected. Coaching can deliver surprising results and a structure can get in the way if you need to follow emergent behaviour from the coachee. Be ready to adapt and move to make the most of every coaching session.

Coaching can be an intensely personal but always valuable journey. Do you have any other tips for coaching to add?