Training is hot right now. The global pandemic has fueled The Great Resignation, and that in turn has sparked a huge surge in the creation and enrollment in training programs. Everywhere you look, someone is developing a training course. But while people are actively embracing and extolling the importance of training, the same fervent, widespread adoption of coaching lags greatly. Instead, people tend to disregard or discount the value and impact that coaching offers. That resistance often manifests itself in a set of negative responses and perceptions about hiring a coach. These attitudes make people miss out on the value that an effective coach can provide to your professional development and success.
Let’s examine these attitudes and perspectives one at a time:
- “You don’t know my situation, so you won’t be effective coaching me.” – That depends on what your goals are. Yes, if you’re looking to become better at engineering, a specific training course makes sense. But if you’re looking to become a better manager of engineers, or looking to advance your career within the industry, that’s different.Of course, there are nuances and idiosyncrasies and industry-specific capabilities that will come into play. But otherwise, how different is your situation, really? If you’re looking to become better at sales or want someone to help you with your marketing strategy, a broad level of experience probably works to your advantage. You want someone that appreciates and understands your situation, but also brings other perspectives and observations. A good coach delivers that.
- “You’ve never done what I do.” – This is a variation on the above theme, so the same applies. Essentially, part of the value of coaching is in the interaction. An effective coach brings an outside perspective. They help you to break down, discuss and collaborate on your business. Good coaches don’t so much give you the answers, but instead help expand your scope and insight so that you see the answers and a plan of action. And then keep you accountable.
- “If you’re not telling me what to do, why should I hire you?”- This is a surprisingly common refrain. Maybe this stems from the stereotypical sports coach screaming at players from the sidelines, but it’s not how a professional coach works. Besides, do you really want someone telling you what to do?Instead, the effective coach will find ways to encourage you to arrive at ideas and answers of your own choosing, after having helped to expand your point of view to consider other options and strategies.More important than “what you should do” is ”how should you be thinking.” Your coach should help you recognize and develop the proper mindset, and level up your attitude and outlook. In short, good coaching maximizes the value of what you know by getting your head in the best possible place. Because knowing what to do isn’t much help if you aren’t in the best frame of mind.(And if you do have a coach that screams at you, it’s time to get a new coach.)
- “I don’t invest in myself.”– OK, chances are nobody actually says this to themselves out loud. But many professionals are resistant to spending money on a personal coach, despite the clear evidence that such investments can deliver real value.Yes, making the investment in your own development may seem less tangible and direct than spending money on a specifics SaaS app or a faster laptop. But for many of us, our skills, capabilities, experience and expertise differentiate us and make us valuable in the marketplace. Those assets require ongoing development and enhancement. Good coaching will make these assets, and the effective development of them, a priority.
- “Having a coach is expensive.”– Yes, it can be. And if you’re not getting clear value from your coach, it’s time to find another one. But more often, the value gained from having a good coach to collaborate with can be invaluable.Invaluable because a coach saves you time, allows you to focus, reduces mistakes, and otherwise helps you maximize your potential. Ultimately, an investment in coaching is making a commitment to yourself. Not once, but on an ongoing basis. Think of it as continuous improvement. When you think about it that way, it’s likely an inexpensive investment.
- “If I can’t figure it out on my own, I shouldn’t be doing it.” – Yes, maybe you can figure it out on your own. But do you want to? Haven’t you invested enough time and energy into flawed or incomplete attempts? Isn’t it time to try new ideas or approaches? Who doesn’t benefit from having an extra set of eyes and another perspective when hashing out a difficult problem?Everyone makes mistakes. But who doesn’t want to make fewer? And save time? And have a better result? And come up with another good idea?(Hey, this post exists because of my coach’s suggestion.)
- “I’ve got it all figured out, and I don’t need any help.” – Again, this might well be true. But again, most people will benefit from having a coach. CEOs have personal coaches, actors have coaches, athletes have coaches.The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a head coach, an assistant head coach, an offensive coordinator, and a quarterback coach, and they are all working to make sure Tom Brady is at peak performance. And as if that’s not enough, Brady has his own personal trainer… and he’s Tom Brady.Don’t you want to be “the Tom Brady” of your market niche?
Training vs. Coaching
Truthfully, pitting training against coaching is entertaining a flawed distinction. Flawed because training and coaching both have important roles in your professional development. Here’s why:
Good training tends to be general, comprehensive, and educational. It’s the “Listen up…this is how you do this.” aspect of your personal development, and there are times when that’s exactly what’s required. You’re being instructed. And regular instruction and education is vital if we expect to expand our perspective, skills and expertise.
Coaching is more situational, specific, and unique to the individual and the moment. It’s the “This just happened. What are your thoughts about it?” approach to your development. It’s immediate, personalized engagement. You work through your priorities in real time, in conversation, and you’re being encouraged.
Done right, it’s a collaboration. You examine and analyze the situation, consider options, and then determine a strategy, a behavior, or a response. To your exact issue or opportunity. After that, you monitor progress and make course corrections as needed. Together.
This is the real, underappreciated value that coaching delivers – the combination of immediacy and continuity. It’s on-demand and ongoing. Just like your business. And life. The challenges and opportunities don’t stop coming at you. They are ever-present, an evolving flood that demand your expert response. Why should your personal development sit idle?
Training can help to prepare you for that flood. It helps you determine what do you do in that exact moment when the next big challenge rises up like a tsunami. And the next one.
Being able to call a quick timeout and consult with your coach can make all the difference.