Business consulting and coaching have been around a long time. But what are they really? Let’s start with a few simple definitions.
A business consultant is a professional who provides professional or expert advice in a particular area such as security, management, accounting, law, human resources, marketing/PR, exit planning or any of many other specialized fields related to business.
A business coach will assist and guide the business owner in running a business by helping them clarify the vision of their business and how it fits in with their personal goals. Business coaching is a process used to take a business from where it is now to where the business owner wants it to be. In other words, they hold you accountable to your goals! (After all, life has a way of trying to derail us from our goals, right?)
Business therapy is a method for raising personal awareness and creating forward momentum by overcoming personal “stories” and obstacles to gain forward movement. It can ignite the spirit of an organization and bring new levels of personal and organizational accountability, collaboration and excellence. A business therapist evaluates the human side of your business. He or she will help you structure the business relationships of your family members, board members, employees and even customers.
So, what is the big deal? And why does this matter?
Because more and more the lines are blurred between personal and professional lives. With more people working from home or in a hybrid environment, traditional models of business structure, leadership and collaboration are being challenged.
As a business consultant and coach, I am finding myself being engaged more as a business therapist than a true consultant or coach. (Thank goodness, I have a master’s in counseling!) In years past, I would be engaged as a consultant both internally and externally. Consultants can find themselves working directly in the day-to-day of an organization to determine areas of improvement, redirection or even areas that need to be eliminated. Consultants also find themselves working externally by looking at an organization from a “30,000 foot-level” and making determinations on improvement, redirection and the like from reports and interviews of leadership and staff. As a coach, I have worked with individual business owners, executives and even teams to keep everyone accountable to goals. I would tweak performance, encourage a frustrated “business athlete” or flat out pull out the coach voice and get them “back on the field” to their best ability.
But more and more, I am being asked to help people navigate the unique business relationships that are developing and emerging in the workplace or work/home place.
Business therapy is about people
When you engage a consultant or coach for the more traditional mode of therapy, the questions will be all about the people around you.
Your spouse or significant other: How is your relationship affected by your work? How are you affected by their career? Are they supportive? Where are the biggest sources of friction in relation to work? What are your “together” career goals? How do you feel about that?
Your children: How is your work affected by your children? What are you biggest concerns for your children in regard to your work? What are your parenting goals and how do those work with your career instead of against it? How are you navigating the season of active parenting with the season of growth in your business or career? Have you even considered this in the framework of work?
Your staff: What does leadership look like in a virtual/hybrid model? How has collaboration changed? What does having difficult conversations look like? How are expectations communicated while creating an inclusive culture and work environment that values the whole employee (not just the professional side of the person)? Who do you struggle to lead or work with? Why?
Your clients: What do you consider a “difficult” client? How have you worked with more demanding personalities in the past? How do you communicate care through digital mediums with the warmth of a face-to-face meeting? How do you get engagement and buy-in with a client when the pace of business limits the more traditional modes of relationship building?
Business therapy is about efficiency
Uncovering the “stories” that we unthinkingly have absorbed all our lives can help people unlock potential and capacity. For many people, they have not risen to their fullest potential because they are carrying around false beliefs and expectations from others. Just as in traditional therapy, business therapy can help people “see” what they are believing and change their narratives to be true for their current lives and work. We tend to find more efficient or “faster” paths when we aren’t incumbered by the burdens we carry from the thought/beliefs of others. I have never worked with anyone who was aware they were carrying false beliefs. It was only after asking questions and allowing the business person to verbally explore that I would watch them redefine thoughts and beliefs for themselves. For almost 80% of my clients, they would return for their next session having achieved tremendous progress in business and life. They make quicker and better decisions for themselves and business. They release ideas, beliefs and, in some cases, bad work relationships. They move forward toward goals because they have energy, mojo and passion again.
Efficiency brings speed and speed leads to momentum.
Business therapy is about solving problems
As any good therapist knows, it isn’t about what you think will solve the problem for your client. It is the solutions they come up with. Most people are so focused on the problem that they don’t see all the options for solutions. A good business therapist will reframe and question to help them unearth all the options. Most people make the best choices when they are solution focused. However, in an ever-changing business environment with the need for, and consequences of, quick decisions, most people are stressed and not solving problems well. A business therapist can help them navigate the process with structure and allow them to make decisions for themselves quickly.
Yes, I still do consultant and coaching. However, taking the time to really understand what a business needs, whether it’s consulting, coaching or therapy, can make the difference in the results gained. You might want to consider all the different tools to get more off-the-couch progress for your out-of-the-box thinking and actions.