Ok, so it may not be a question you’ve even thought of asking; however technology, our understanding of how coaching impacts individuals, time pressures and the realities of information overload are changing rapidly. These rapid changes are leading to a reconsideration of the optimum balance of support for CEOs, entrepreneurs and founders.
Face to face business coaching will always have its place, and even remote communication technologies like online video calling won’t be able to replicate how we sometimes need personal, physical interaction. Face to face executive coaching is also able to respond well to the issues facing the client at the time of the coaching session.
However the application of software and the latest cognitive science to coaching reduces the time and service costs – and therefore the number of clients who could benefit. There is also greater potential for the interventions to impact thinking and actions by being applied frequently and being tailored for the client’s time, attention and longer term personal development. The sense of working to a personal development framework and keeping on top of latest thinking are also very important to some executives.
Ultimately you need to make your evaluation based on what type of support you need – after you have fully considered what technology and cognitive science have now enabled.
Business coach or software intervention? – the top 10 considerations
- How accessible do you need your support to be? – with some coaching services you buy hourly time slots or get a monthly allowance. Think about how timely and how in-depth you need your help to be. The reality is that software can’t replace a person when it comes to being able to answer specific questions – indeed Constant Mentor uses a number of human ‘Scarlets’ to provide its ‘Ask Scarlet’ short support service. Remember that when you need help, the most important thing is to be able to articulate your problem and know that you can get an answer as soon as possible. Getting the problem out of your head and heart is most important.
- How important is learning and development to you? – how will you learn and keep on top of all the latest business thinking that you need to be as effective as possible? Coaches are good at directing you towards further reading or sources for learning. E-learning technology, which a lot of online coaching software intervention is based on, is uniquely placed to drive your continuing learning in a more systematic way, and will usually summarise and feed you the key concepts that would enable you to be more effective in your needs areas.
- Is improvement tracking something that motivates you? – how is this tracked and against what set of benchmarks? Software can add a level of objectivity that face to face coaching can’t, because it will often be assessing and tracking progress against a high performance leadership framework. Equally though, human feedback on improvement areas can be more powerful if the right insight is delivered correctly. There is also nothing to stop a face to face business coach creating a performance leadership framework and monitoring progress against it. The important things regardless of approach are to set goals and objectives and then assess progress on a regular basis.
- What works best to get you to think differently about you and your business? – How do you best think creatively and innovate? How does the coaching challenge you? As you are the most important person in your organisation to be mentally challenged, you need to look for a coaching service that does this frequently and well. Regardless of whether it’s software-powered tailored emails or the coach setting themselves diary reminders to challenge you by mail or phone, you’re looking to receive content and interventions that make you think differently and then act differently to do better in your business.
- How do you get stimulated to act on something that needs to change? – how are you prompted into action, and how is progress and momentum against the actions you have committed to – as well as your goals and objectives – maintained? Similarly to the creative/ innovation challenge in the point above, automated or manual reminders, prompts and chases all deliver the same outcome if done systematically and on a timely basis. Most leaders are where they are because they are good at holding themselves to account. A coaching service needs to turn up the pressure and chase performance commitments daily.
- How time pressured are you? How does the coaching relationship get your attention so that the coaching interventions have the best chance of success? It is too easy for your coaching to become a movable diary slot and never get your time or attention. Equally, the existence of a slot in your diary to focus on ‘you’ as a time-out of the day-to-day business can be just what some people need. Online or remote coaching driven by software has an advantage when it comes to being able to send frequent, tailored interventions (SMS texts or emails) which require less dedicated time and work by repeating key messages daily and over time in a form and format that provides a constant low-level pressure to change without being time or attention intensive.
- Traction – how do the coaching interventions get traction with you? Time and attention are two elements, but the nature of the coaching intervention is the third. The form, format and presentation of information is important for it have maximum impact on you. This comes down to the communication skills of the coach or coaches behind the service you select. Ultimately, it’s the ability of the communication to stick that prompts you to change.
- Tailored to needs – how is the relationship customised to you and your needs? Your coaching programme needs to assess your individual needs against a high performance leadership framework, and then your programme tailored accordingly to systematically develop new skills. Any coaching service has to do this and then repeat the process at least quarterly.
- Goals & objectives – you have personal and professional goals and objectives. How these are captured in the coaching relationship and integrated into the coaching programme is important to ensure you focus your energy and attention on one set of the right goals. You’re looking to achieve consistent and systematic progress prompting and challenge around your goals and objectives. You may not like this, but being forced to keep your targets front of mind to ensure you’re not working on the unimportant tasks is a key coaching role.
- Embed & retain – how does the coaching relationship embed new skills and knowledge? What methods are used to ensure retention in memory? This is one area that most coaching services fall down on because a systematic or programmatic approach is required to ensure that your key learning interventions are repeated – preferably based on some form of spaced learning principles.
Technology, our understanding of how coaching impacts individuals, time pressures and the realities of information overload are rapidly change. You need to reconsider the optimum balance of support you need as a CEO, entrepreneur or founder.
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