The Care Factor

As an active member of the professional services community, I am often reminded by many coaches or consultants (and very seasoned ones I might add) that time is money. This is very true and in the early days, I kind of bought into this mantra as it made perfect sense from a business and financial standpoint. I was even coaching service-based business clients to help them come to the realisation that they had not adequately factored in the full extent of the value they provided to their clients in terms of time spent on a job, project or scope of work. Then there was the added layer of expertise involved or level of customisation that required far more hours that simply went unpaid.

Don’t get me wrong, I completely stand by the advice I have given in the past and will continue to do the same, but I also have the strong belief that you should always practice what you preach. My clients know that many of the business strategies I advise on, I have either implemented in my own business or have had extensive experience in facilitating them throughout my career. However, the very same clients would be the first to say that the one thing I do not adhere to is finishing a session on time. I almost always go way over time and it is not something I really want to change any time soon either.   

For a while now, I have been at loggerheads with myself over this as I feel that I almost have to justify it somehow as it totally contradicts what the mainstream advocates as well as providing sound advice to those that need it most. But then it hit me! Coaching is different. It has the power to create significant behaviour change and transform a person’s life (I know this from personal experience as a client). The trust in the coach-client relationship and the depth of conversation that takes place does not allow for constant clock gazing. The coach doesn’t “do” coaching, the client “experiences” it and so being totally present in the moment and allowing the time and space for the client to make progress or have any breakthroughs cannot always be squeezed into a specific time slot. Of course, there needs to be an agreed session time to manage expectations (no less than 90 minutes in my view), however there should also be a relaxed approach to flexibility on either side.

This approach is no different when meeting a prospective client or even network connection. Again, most of my clients will attest to the fact that before any financial agreement takes place, they usually get to “experience” my coaching in our initial conversation. Although the invitation for a meeting discussion is scheduled for say an hour to block out the calendar, very seldom does it end in the scheduled timeframe. On most occasions, the best conversations occur when there is no specific time pressure (within reason obviously) and both parties can relax and be fully present in the moment. This creates an environment that is conducive to connecting on a deeper level, whereby 2 hours can feel like 45 minutes and the richness of the discussion can have an immediate impact on the prospective client. Sounds like a coaching session, right? Yes, to some degree, but I prefer to call it the care factor.

For this reason, I find myself questioning the motive of so many coaching professionals out there who specifically offer those 15-min, 30-min or 1hr free consultations. Having been on the back end of one of them a few years ago, it felt as though there was a clear agenda right from the start with the pressure building slowly to make a decision around signing up to a program of some sort. Now if you have read this far, I can hear some of you saying – well that doesn’t sound like a skilled sales professional who is following a sophisticated consultative sales process or using a specific framework or technique (which I wholeheartedly endorse for solution-based selling in most cases). The truth is what I have learnt so far is that it is still very different when it comes to partnering with coaching clients. For any coaching intervention to be powerful, meaningful and potentially life changing, the trust factor must be on another level for this to occur. We all know that this type of trusting relationship takes time to build and so I genuinely believe that great coaching is not something that gets sold but is rather experienced first. Once the connection is made and the client can feel the benefits as well as sense the possibilities or results it can deliver for them, the business or transactional side of things simply becomes a background process that just acts as an enabler to merely establish the coaching parameters and manage expectations going forward.

The message I’m trying to convey here is that powerful coaching can help clients make positive changes that can have extraordinary impacts on their lives. Finding and partnering with the right coach should never feel rushed.     

The Care Factor
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