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Coaches score strongly in the business arena

WANT to get ahead? Got goals you need to reach? Why not get a coach?

Why not indeed. Everybody accepts the importance of coaches in the sporting arena.

How far would Susie O’Neill, Tiger Woods or Kieran Pierkens have gotten without their coaches?

Nearly everyone sees sports coaches as people who push athletes to achieve their best.

Now the business world is waking up to the idea.

In the past six months there has been a surge in the number of people touting themselves as corporate coaches. Even the major recruitment houses such as the TMP Group-owned Morgan & Banks have started to offer these services in WA.

These corporate coaches are supposed to help business people get from where they are to where they want to be.

But unlike mentors, who instruct the person in the steps they need to take, coaches are supposed to make the journey with their client.

The Australian National Training Authority defines the difference as a mentor being someone you learn from while a coach is someone you learn with.Corporate coaching can go into the realms of spiritual, marriage and family coaching besides tackling business issues. It takes on anything that is needed to make the client’s future successful.

In Australia the trend has widened from one-on-one coaching to the coaching of management teams.

The need for corporate coaching has grown from the 1980s era of massive downsizing that effectively ended the times of a job for life and forced people to take more control of their lives. Companies were no longer guaranteeing their staff a future and were in fact asking them to become more flexible and multi-skilled.

The multi-skilling push led to the rise of the short-duration workshops in the 1990s that offered everything from computer skills training to interpersonal skills development.

Now executives want more than just a short-term workshop fix and corporate coaches are jumping to fill that need.

People Solutions managing partner Steve Bowler said the corporate coaching phenomenon had been active in the US for a number of years.

“Corporate coaching is built around meeting people’s short-term and long-term goals,” Mr Bowler said.

Southern Cross Coaching International managing director Kim Lisson said more people were aware of coaching.

“The word is out there and I think the corporate world had a lot to do with the growth of business coaching,” Mr Lisson said.

“People turn to coaching because they want to achieve success – be it in their career, their lifestyle, business or in balancing work.

“It really depends on what people are looking for and how they define success.

“People think of the coach as being the motivator. Really, coaches are usually working with motivated people.”

Mr Bowler said his company’s background had been in career management – helping people who had lost their job or missed out on a promotion. Now it is focussing on coaching management teams.

“We help people get the most out of what they’ve got.”

“Companies see coaches as ways of maximising their training dollars,” Mr Bowler said.

“People can talk to the coach more than they can to their boss.

“Coaches can help a company’s staff change their behaviour. We can help companies define their training need and even help them identify stars.”

Mr Bowler said corporate coaches need a thorough background of the company they were working for.

“You need to know their objectives so you can set goals and timeframes for people.

“The difficulty with corporate coaching is you don’t get to see people develop.

“In sports coaching you get to see a person’s skills develop. In corporate coaching its more through role playing.”

Mr Bowler said people going into new roles often had little support.

“Coaching helps build their confidence and their performance.”

Mr Lisson said a lot of the recruitment firms were starting to jump onto the corporate coaching bandwagon.

Morgan & Banks’ Zelko Lendich said coaching was such an overused word.

“There are a variety of uses of the coaching terms. It’s become a bit of a buzzword but the research shows coaching is a good way to develop people,” Mr Lendich said.

“A lot of the work I’m doing is in performance coaching – helping managers and supervisors to boost

performance through on-the-job coaching.

“Managers can develop their staff very effectively simply by giving continuous development.”

“Career transition coaching has also become a lot more important with the flattening of company structures.”

Dunhill Management Services managing director Bruce Henderson said his company had been providing career coaching in an informal way.

“We try and provide them with a landscape of coaching and point them in the right direction,” Mr Henderson said.

“I find it intriguing that people can hang a shingle out and charge people for this. If a person is a half decent recruiter he would value-add to a client.”

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