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14 December 2021

Does Performance Coaching Work?

Jairek Robbins

Could a simple conversation drive high-quality work and performance? Whenever we think of performance coaching, we usually imagine exceptional people or ‘star talent.’ Coaching in itself purports to change our lives and help us reach our most cherished goals, But does it really work?

ICF, one of the most reputable coaching accreditation organizations in the world, recently found through a study that 99% of clients who hired a coach are satisfied. About 96% would hire a coach again and around 86% of companies that hired any type of coach at least made their return on investment.

But perhaps the greatest insight from the study was the reasons why many people seek a life coach of any kind. 64% indicated that they hire a coach so that they can achieve their goals. Other vital reasons included finding happiness, confidence, and life purpose, and to do what they love or change their career.

Having Performance Concerns?

Top performance is a concern for everyone. An urge to do more and to do better is almost instinctive. But for a number of reasons, it is either drummed out of us or that our current set of skills can’t quite produce the desired result. However, most of us stand in the way our goals. How often have you clear thoughts of your goals and then quickly discover blockades all over your path that had to do with self-discipline or willpower?

Performance coaching is particularly useful in certain circumstances. Of course, the first instance is in making fundamental changes to our performance and behavior, which is the equivalent of athletes breaking debilitating habits in their game to improve their performance. 

Others include navigating career change points and long-range career and life planning. While many people may prefer to wade through life without a life plan, there’s strong evidence showing that people who make clear plans and goals have better chances of success in the long term.

Performance coaches also help individuals work through major business or personal setbacks. Life is of course not devoid of misfortune or bad breaks, despite how they come upon us. A performance coach can help craft a recovery plan and help provide a sounding board or an accountability partner dedicated to the client’s full recovery and even beyond previous achievements.

A Powerful Relationship?

Performance coaching is all about providing support and challenging you to explore your capabilities. It is progressive and forward thinking while working in the present. 

Considering its core ethos and mode of operation, the relationship between the coach and the client can be a powerful affirmation and confidence-building tool. The coach is bound by the profession’s ethics to not only be respectful of the client as an individual but to also respect their skills and goals in life. A coach is required to provide honest, constructive and challenging feedback and to help them set high goals they can achieve. 

This type of working relationship alone can be a powerful source of affirmation and motivation for the client to work through the obstacles and drawbacks and realize their full potential. However, don’t confuse performance coaching with counseling, which is a whole different ball game altogether. 

Counseling is more reactive and primarily concerned with the core beliefs and underlying psychological issues. Performance coaching is more proactive and works on the surface to challenge individuals towards their potential. In fact, performance coaches are required to refer their clients to professional counseling as soon as they detect issues that have deeper origins.

Identify and Smash Obstacles

A performance coach is also specifically trained to single out any emotional interferences. Of course, our emotions, as useful as they are in many respects, represent some of our biggest obstacles to our goals and making changes in our lives. Three emotions that consistently interfere with our progress or performance are guilt, fear, and worry. 

Many of our fears are unfounded and often have no basis. While some fear might have a basis in reality, most of the time it is just our minds playing tricks on us, purporting to protect us from perceived danger. But mostly, that ‘safety’ also keeps us unchallenged and for the most part, unfulfilled. We are therefore either unaware of these fears, cannot bring ourselves to tackle them, or even worse, we refuse to acknowledge their effects on our performance. 

A performance coach is trained to not only identify these fears but also help the client to work out strategies to weaken those fears and their power to hold back future performance or action. This might be incredibly difficult to achieve while working by yourself or just talking to a friend or mentor. A performance coach has the expertise and experience to help the client deal with their fear of a situation, event, or action. In some instances, this might take some time, but it is one goal for which a performance coach is dedicated to seeing their clients through. 

Worry is another key emotion that often gets in the way of performance. Worry is like weeds that start off small and initially seem harmless to your garden. But if not dealt with, worry eventually multiplies and chokes the life of your garden. Before you know it, you are worrying over everything, including the fact that you are worrying. 

Worrying, of course, leads to more physical problems like insomnia, bad eating habits, and exhaustion, all of which hinder top performance. 

How Dedicated are Performance Coaches?

Performance coaching borrows heavily from the military and sporting fetes. These are areas that demand consistent top performance. Therefore, a performance coach’s ultimate goal is to see their clients go from one level of performance to the other, or to at least maintain a consistent performance. 

In organizations, performance coaching should not be reactive or seek to reveal the team members’ failings. It should be about identifying people’s starting points and then working with each of them towards their vision of life ambitions and exploring possible directions. 

Since the organization is a collection of individual contributions, such an approach will help make the organization a high-performance workplace. Consistent performance coaching within organizations can also identify potential issues before they escalate and also find effective solutions.

The Verdict

The ICF study also found that the effects of performance coaching can also spread into other areas of our lives. 80% of clients reported a significant improvement in their self-confidence while 73% said that it had improved their relationships and communication skills. Others (67%) even reported that performance coaching had improved their work-life balance.

Top performance depends on having a balanced life. Sometimes, we can focus too much on high performance that we are ready to sacrifice everything else in our lives. We want to be the brightest torch, forgetting that we will also burn out much faster than others. 

In fact, we are often compelled to believe that we can only have one or the other, that is, top performance or a healthy balanced life. 

However, Working with a performance coach could help you create the perfect balance and have both these things, or as they say, to have your chocolate fudge cake and get to eat it too. 


To Your Success,

Jairek Robbins

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