Why hiring a business coach could be the best decision you make

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Author: Kai Murray, non-exec director and leadership coach, Firefish Software

As the world settles into hybrid working, strong and decisive leadership is more important than ever to protect your business from the potential risks of falling productivity, high staff turnover and the demise of company culture. But how can business leaders adopt a fresh approach to decision-making? Who dares to challenge the CEO? And how can those in charge today implement a robust management structure for the future? 

These are some of many challenges tackled through business coaching. In a series of sessions with management and stand-out employees, a business coach supports performance and profitability, boosts confidence, develops company culture, secures staff retention, elevates leadership and, ultimately, introduces strategies to help the leadership team take the business to the next level. 

What does business coaching look like? 

Business coaching is essentially a structured conversation. Most of my clients already have the solutions; what they need from me as a business coach is someone to facilitate the conversation that will help them unearth those answers. By ensuring that all options are explored, coaches lead their clients to discover precisely what they need.

In order to help leaders face tough realities, these conversations can be challenging. A coach might also need to provide feedback from the management team about a leader's style or behaviours. Because coaches are not working inside the business on a daily basis, they are best placed to shine a light on areas requiring development to move the business forward.  

Often, a coach supports a company as it goes through change. With clear communication and everyone moving in the same direction, the use of a business coach can become part of the company's growth strategy, pushing a company through change faster. 

Leadership that drives performance and profitability

Research has shown that 70% of people leave their jobs because of their manager, rather than the job itself. Poor management is often the result of technically skilled employees being promoted who have little or no experience of leading a team. 

At Firefish, the policy is to promote internally where possible; this has made business coaching vital for employees who are destined to become leaders in the business but who don't yet have the skills in place to take up the post. Supporting the transition of junior staff to positions of management is essential to employee retention. 

Strong and decisive business leadership is more important now than ever in this era of hybrid working. Leaders who made clear decisions about remote working at the start of the pandemic and successfully communicated with their teams are reaping the rewards. Successful leaders are visionary, and coaching helps to build this capacity, stretching them to think beyond what is already happening in their industry, and seeking out new opportunities.

Boosting self-awareness

Business coaching improves self-awareness because it asks tough questions. Effective leaders understand their strengths, weaknesses and what motivates them. However, we all have our blind spots, making it tricky to appreciate the full picture of who we truly are.  

Coaching provides managers with the tools to self-reflect. An example is the Karpman Triangle. This behavioural model references three responses to difficult situations - victim, persecutor and rescuer. A business coach might encourage the business leader to consider which of the three roles they most often adopt in times of immense pressure, how this affects their communication style and how they might be perceived within the business. Understanding how one comes across and recognising when to implement the techniques learned can create a tangible shift in leadership style that impacts the culture and overall performance of a business.

Developing happy staff 

In addition to investing in yourself as a business leader, taking on a business coach is about making sure your staff are well supported, motivated and challenged. A key driver for Gen Z is the opportunity for growth and personal development; increase this and you will boost staff loyalty. 

One 2021 Hiring Trends survey reported that the top reason for seeking a new job was career advancement. Consequently, a lack of structure for internal career progression leads to a higher employee turnover. And in today's candidate-driven market, allocating a business coach to promising future managers and star employees should be a business priority. In my experience, business leaders who invest in coaching for their team as well as for themselves are more likely to have successful businesses.  

Coaching can help employees enhance their skill base to escalate their career and assist in overcoming personal challenges. I was employed by one business that had identified two talented individuals for their fast-track, both of whom needed coaching for distinctly different reasons. One had a fear of presenting and, the other, an abrasive communication style that upset members of the team, illustrating how, with business coaching, developing people's potential capabilities goes hand-in-hand with helping them recognise their weaknesses. 

My role at Firefish has included developing a model for hybrid working. The business was the first in its industry to adopt a ‘Work from Anywhere' policy, demonstrating the leadership's trust in its staff and the ability to take decisive action during a period of uncertainty. Engaging the opinions of all staff members through a staff survey, communicating the policy to staff, and reinventing the business HQ to facilitate staff collaboration despite the invitation to work from anywhere were confident policy decisions that derived from a strong business model and coaching plan.

Business coaching for success

Business coaching boosts confidence. It offers a vital space for personal development and support, helping business leaders break through barriers that are holding them back and focus on the actions necessary to achieve their business objectives. Some of the most successful business leaders have worked with business coaches, for example, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. They recognised that the best investment they could make was in themselves. However, it is clear that empowering your management team to perform better by extending the benefits of business coaching to include them will support the business in going from strength to strength.

Firefish Software is a combined CRM and recruitment marketing software that's changing the way businesses recruit. First in their industry to implement a 'Work From Anywhere' policy, Firefish Software has a strong company culture at its core, and recently won 'Best Talent Tech Company to Work For' at TALiNT Partners TIARA Recruitment Awards (Sept 2021).