Many people face challenges and setbacks at work, and many are looking for ways to achieve their goals and maximize their professional potential. That’s where performance coaching comes in. A performance coach can be instrumental in helping individuals accomplish their objectives while learning how to best leverage their skills.
What is performance coaching?
Performance coaching involves working with professionals to help them reach their full potential. This may involve using different coaching strategies depending on the individual and what success means to her — as well as the ways in which she can best achieve success and reach her professional goals.
The performance coach will not instruct but instead assists and help facilitate ways to maximize an individual’s potential and help her grow. Usually, this person is someone from outside the worker’s organization who can provide a more objective perspective as she coaches the individual through overcoming obstacles and accomplishing her goals. She will deliver constructive, honest feedback and work with her client to tackle and find solutions to problems, as well as proactively address areas in which she can grow.
How can it help?
First and foremost, performance coaching is meant to boost people professionally. More specifically, it can help you:
- Identify and work through obstacles, including self-imposed ones like low self-esteem.
- Identify weaknesses and develop strategies for addressing them.
- Identify and leverage your strengths.
- Set goals and create concrete plans for achieving them.
- Build skills and create plans for furthering developing them.
- Develop a mindset of continuous learning.
- Communicate and collaborate well with others in the workplace.
- Figure out what’s holding you back and how to move forward.
- Boost your emotional intelligence.
These are just some of the ways performance coaching is helpful. If you work with a coach, explore what you want to get out of the relationship with her, and she can tailor your experience to your unique situation.
Who should try it and when is it useful?
Many people can benefit from working with a performance coach. Some situations in which it can be especially useful include:
- When you feel burnt out and want to be inspired by work again.
- When you feel stressed out by work.
- When you’re having trouble setting goals for yourself or don’t know your next career steps.
- When you’re suffering from low self-esteem and don’t know how to gain confidence in yourself and your work.
- When you want to gain the skills necessary for advancing in your career.
- When you’re dealing with challenges at work and need some strategies for resolving them.
- When you’re starting a new job and feel overwhelmed.
- When you’re starting a new business.
- When you’re dealing with setbacks, such as a layoff.
- When you’re looking for strategies for boosting performance throughout your organization.
Certifications and education.
Given that the field is fairly new, there’s no specific set path for becoming a performance coach. It’s true that most professional coaches have at least a bachelor’s degree, and gaining a coaching certification can also help you land your early jobs. The International Coach Federation (ICF), for example, offers three coaching certifications: Associate Certified Coach, Professional Certified Coach and Master Certified Coach. The main differences between them are the number of training and experience hours involved.
To achieve any of these certifications, you will need to complete a training program, offered at organizations and colleges. For example, Brown University’s School of Professional Studies offers a program accredited by the ICF in collaboration with ACT Leadership.
In addition to your education and certifications, you should have the following skills and qualities:
- Critical thinking
- Ability to deliver honest feedback
- Strategic thinking
- Ability to form strong connections and relationships with others
Of course, as with any job, you’ll learn more about the business and how to be a good coach as you gain experience. But these essentials should help you get started as a performance coach and lay a solid foundation for success in the field.
What to look for in a coach.
What you want in a performance coach will depend on your personal goals and motivations. Still, there are some qualities that can make or break your experience. You should, for example, look for someone with whom you feel completely comfortable. That may mean someone of your own or a different gender, in your age range, older or younger and so on. You should also look for someone who has worked with others in the same or a similar field to yours — that will help them understand the kinds of issues and challenges you’re facing.
Of course, you need someone who is empathetic. That doesn’t mean you want someone to coddle you. While showing understanding, your performance coach should also be capable of delivering honest, constructive feedback.
A certified coach will have completed a certain amount of training, meaning she’s learned specific techniques. However, if a coach has a significant amount of experience but no certification, then she likely has plenty of skills in her repertoire, too.
When you’re looking for a coach, interview several different ones to help you find the best fit. You’ll likely have a better rapport with some than others. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable with him or her because you’ll need to be honest about your struggles and successes, too. You should ask prospective coaches about their methods and approach.
What’s the difference between a life coach and a performance coach?
Life coaching and performance coaching are similar in that they involve setting and helping you achieve your goals, as well as build your self-esteem and cope with setbacks. However, life coaching is more all-encompassing, dealing with many aspects of your life including personal issues and goals. Performance coaching, meanwhile, specifically focuses on your professional life. While life coaches may also help you professionally, that’s just one aspect of the work you might do together — it depends on the needs of the client, who may want to focus on, for example, personal relationships instead.