We tend to think that once we have the gig, the client, or the job, we can move on from selling ourselves and just do our work, but that’s not the case.
Sometimes the people who originally sponsored or hired you move on, and their replacements have no idea what coaching is or its value. Other times, people higher up change, or their priorities shift and you need to defend or justify your work.
The best solution is to acknowledge that you can never stop demonstrating your worth as a coach, and the worth of coaching itself.
A recurring theme among those that I interviewed for my book about internal coaching was the need to routinely demonstrate your worth and communicate the value that you bring to the company.
In fact, I identified “demonstrating your worth,” as one of 11 guiding principles of internal coaching. While the book discusses this concept from the perspective of the internal coach, the principle definitely applies to external coaches as well, and in fact to every entrepreneur and business owner.
Clearly, all coaches need to be spending a much greater percentage of their time and energy:
- educating the organization’s members [or others] about what coaching is,
- communicating the success stories of coaching, and
- quantifying data that makes visible the benefits of coaching [to their organization].
In the book, Alex Sloley explained that the accomplishments of the internal coach need to be visible. While the direct client experiences the benefit of coaching firsthand, others may not. Or, if a manager sees significant improvement in someone, they may not attribute the improvement to coaching.
As an added challenge, says Brock Argue, another internal coach I interviewed, you may have clearly communicated to your immediate boss or supervisor what coaching is and the value you have added, but your immediate supervisor then needs to be able to communicate that to their supervisor or board. You’ve got to help them help you!
In external coaching and other businesses, this translates to routinely educating and communicating with your client about what you are doing. In many cases, you will also need to help them identify and interpret the direct benefits of your coaching.
This can be as simple as a pre- and post-survey questionnaire, or a rating from 1 to 10 of the progress they have made. I also suggest regular check-ins with your client to discuss their progress and make any course corrections.
Until coaching is as widely used and universally understood as other helping professions, it is up to us to continually educate or remind people about its value.