Business Coaching: Asking for Help When Out of Your Depth

By Marie Taylor, Steve Crabb

Everyone, even a business coach, hits a little wall of conscious incompetence in life — that space where the realization dawns that we don’t know something we need to know or aren’t as competent as we thought. Mentors with more experience of business or a specific area of expertise can really support people here.

A good mentor may be able to help a coach identify what he doesn’t know about developing his practice and help him plug the gaps. A mentor may be able to identify a learning plan and set up an accountability check-in to keep the coach on track. It’s advisable to have a framework and to have the business owner/coach record his progress and challenges because this framework helps the mentee to recognize patterns and consolidates learning.

A learning plan may look something like this.

sample mentoring plan
A sample mentoring plan.

To keep a mentee on track and maintain momentum, you may want to introduce a weekly self-review. You can use an “accountability check-in” document like this. It’s adapted with permission from a format used by Steve Chandler, author and coach. To use this format for yourself, simply use the numbered paragraphs; the Mentee/Mentor paragraphs illustrate how the questions may be answered.

Mentoring Accountability: Nadine Shaw, Shaw Coaching

Date: February 22, 2016

  1. Inspired actions I have taken/experienced in my coaching and business since our last discussion. (Inspired actions are actions that fill me with energy or make me feel alive.)

    Mentee: Called six people in my coaching pipeline, had four conversations, and converted one into a paying client.

    Mentor:Woo-hoo! What are you going to do to celebrate this achievement? How will you acknowledge it?

    Mentee: Invoiced FR and chasing up for feedback and testimonial.

    Mentor: Yes, and notice how much time these processes take from invoice to payment as this is good noticing for you to consider in terms of the balance of your cash flow and the balance of the work you take on. (I am suggesting you think about this a little bit rather than make it a huge focus. This is about working on the structure of your business.)

    Mentee: I’ve been drafting my value add. I think the purpose is for me to be comfortable with my offering and able to say it confidently.

    Mentor:Yes! we can practice this when we meet next time if you wish.

  2. Breakthroughs or learnings: What have I realized about myself, others, my situation that is important for me going forward?

    Mentee: Feeling a bit underwhelmed with my training offering to lawyers in the first 30 days and want to review it. I just don’t enjoy doing it.

    Mentor: This is great noticing. What would make that a more exciting offering for you and for them? How could you use that material in a different way or adapt it for a different group?

  3. Check-in: What’s irritating and grating, and what’s going great guns?

    Mentee: Booked to see Matthew Jones this week, also seeing MD of Agile Learning and looking forward to both.

    Mentor: Look at how brilliantly you are doing at getting into conversations with people to talk about possible work. You are doing great.

  4. Explore: What’s happening in my business, and what is working? Where am I with the outcome goals and the process goals I defined for myself?
    Outcome Update
    1. A larger network to increase my opportunities for coaching and consultancy work. Mentee: No new progress this week.

    Mentor: Notice that you are arranging meetings and this is the first very important step toward this outcome.

    2. Three new paying coaching clients within the next two months. Mentee: Flyer out to design, will use on web page and organize delivery in locality.

    Mentor: Brilliant and you have already secured one!

    3. Three consultancy clients within the next four months. Mentee: Planned work secured with Every Work and Consultancy Inc. Will ask both for feedback once completed.

    Mentor: Great! Keep going, and as you said, build these two relationships even more as we discussed to secure further contracts.

    4. Increase skill in winning and delivering consultancy assignments and coaching clients. Mentee: Not sure if I’ve progressed here.

    Mentor: You are doing this. Everything we’ve discussed supports this.

  5. Challenge: What’s next and where’s the stretch? How does business/life feel right now?

    Mentee: Sort out flyer to get coaching clients. Carry on looking for paying coaching clients.

    Mentor: What would happen if you stopped looking for clients and simply put the flyer out there and had some more conversations?

  6. Articulating desired intention: What would make the week ahead wonderful for me and my practice/business is… .

    Mentee: WA will sign up for a coaching program. I receive some calls from the flyer drop.

    Mentor: Try to make your intentions more specific — for example, by the end of the week, I want a minimum six-month coaching commitment with WA and seven calls from the flyer drop.