Tips for Finding an Office Coach

An office coach is different than a mentor. Your mentor can be outside the organization, you ask this mentor for tips when you hit walls or have a large problem. A coach is going to be more hands on, have more practical experience in your position, and will probably have a similar job title.

When Do I Need A Coach?

Even stellar, high performing, professional athletes need a coach. If their performance increases even 1% above their competitors, it could mean a win. The same applies for every job position, and every person looking to excel at their career. Any career could use this slight advantage to be the best. Coaches will give one on one guidance and expertise to help you master weakness.

Coaching is often necessary when your manager is bogged down, perhaps has little knowledge about certain areas, or is weak themselves in areas where you need to grow. I’ve been struggling with this with my current startup Due. Managers have a large team to command, and can’t be available to walk you through and coach on particular areas. Sometimes managers are from another organization and may be good at management, but have little hands on experience with your actual job.

Identify Growth Areas

Knowing areas where you are failing is the first step in determining who will be the best coach. Perhaps you’re a salesperson who is missing quota, or an engineer who’s taking too long to code and missing deadlines. Finding a coach who is not only the best at your weaknesses in your office, but is also accessible are ideal traits.

Often people are unsure why they’re aren’t performing, or even unsure if they are or aren’t performing. You manager should be one source of feedback as to where you should shore up your skill set to be a better employee.

Another way of determining areas of growth or improvement, is looking at the job requirements for your dream job. Do you have all those skills? Where are the competency or performance gaps that you can fill through a more knowledgable coach in the office? Even senior employees will find themselves asking a younger subordinate to coach them in areas like social media in order to stay abreast of trends.

Select the Coach

Selecting the right coach is important. A coach can take you to the championships, or into last place. The right coach understands the fundamentals of their own success, processes, and strategies which led them to achievement. A person who’s succeeding and doesn’t know why other than their smile and good fortune is not a good coach. A coach should be able to sit with you and consult with why you’re missing something crucial that should lead to a personal victory in mastering a skill.

This person should balance your own skill set, be trustworthy, and possibly looking to grow within the company. That motivation will be why he or she takes you under their wing. Interested in a higher management position, they will most likely share their coaching with their manager for the reward of a promotion. Your success will be a testament to their management and coaching skills.

Just Ask

Asking the coach will take a bit of finesse. Sometimes this relationship will happen organically. Asking the person for help on occasion and seeing their reaction will be a good indicator that they’re the right coach for you. If they seem bothered or take a long time to get back, they may be uninterested in being your coach.

Approaching him or her after testing the waters and mentioning you’d love to “pick their brain” is the next step. Take them to lunch and start to ask more questions that show that you’re interested in their expertise. Most people love to give advice, a few are afraid of sharing “secrets.” Avoid the latter.

When you’re finishing the lunch, priming your coach is the best way to get their buy in as a mentor.  “I think you’d make a great manager. I know you’re probably interested in growing in the company. Would you be interested in coaching me and using our mutual success as a testament of your management abilities?” This should lay out a great reason for your coach to start working with you.

Build A Team of Coaches

High performing teams will assign each person a “coach” role where each member takes responsibility for owning their best asset, and coaching every other member on the team with that skill. Whether it’s product knowledge, time management, or the champion of the CRM, each team member can take ownership of being that particular teacher and expert, allowing other members to ask for help and alleviating pressure from the manager, who may be busy in meetings or training a new team member.