For entrepreneurs and business professionals, particularly coaches and consultants, there are times when we are overlooking great opportunities to leverage our time. In fact it’s quite common, as a coach or consultant, or even as a consultative professional (consultative salesperson, advice-giving professional) to have several topics that you teach over and over, one-on-one, to many, if not all, of your clients. Let me be clear: there is a difference between teaching, coaching and consulting.
Teaching is different from when you coach or consult. When you coach, you ask probing questions, recommend action to be taken as an exercise for developmental purposes or experiential learning. When you consult, you take in multiple forms of information and data, and respond with a unique recommendation. When you explain a particular technique, a concept or an approach over and over – this is a teaching point. And especially if you go through a series of teaching points regularly with your clients, these are the types of things that really ought to be placed into a “product” of some sort. In this way, you can leverage your time, and your clients will still be well served (sometimes better served) by this approach. So what types of things are things you should teach? (And therefore qualify as items that can be transferred into “products” – like resource worksheets or instruction manuals, templates, audios, videos and online courses or e-learning.)
When to teach:
- New skills
- Step-by-step instructions
- New processes
- Behavioral awareness
- Behavior change techniques
- Anything that can be characterized
- As “knowledge”, a “skill” or an “ability”
What types of things should remain as “coaching” (or consultation)? Coaching elements are subjects that are highly customized to the client’s situation, for which your guidance or response is almost always different, depending on the client and their circumstances.
When to coach (or consult):
- Probing Questions
- Ah-ha’s (Client blind spots)
- Customized “assignments”
- Customized recommendations & next steps (a.k.a., Consulting)
Okay, so you can see how this serves the coach or consultant better, but how did it serve the client better? Consistency, access and better use of your expertise.
Consistency. Your clients will get a more consistent and thorough message if you put 4everything about teaching a particular concept into a ‘product’ format. When you teach off-the-cuff, you will invariably change what you say, sometimes leaving things out, sometimes being less clear. Teaching through a product resource, the client gets a consistent and complete message without fail.
Access. Teaching points that are available in a resource are more accessible to your clients. When you teach ‘live’, they get it only when you’re meeting, at that moment. With resources that are available whenever they need them, they can spend more time on concepts when they need more focus. They don’t have to worry about inconsistent notes. And they can go back for review as and when they need it.
Better Use of You. When you spend time “teaching” in your coaching sessions, you are really doing your clients a disservice. Your clients are not actually getting the best use of your time. Your greatest value to your clients is yoru highly customized, situational guidance that is unique to who they are, what they are doing, where they are in your coaching process, and the events, people and occurrences happening around them. Spending teaching time during coaching sessions is a form of spending your time and your client’s time, frivolously.