Whilst there are many different options these days, most people I know still tend to make an appointment with their local GP as their first point of call to discuss any health concerns they may have. We often take this fact or norm for granted, but it got me thinking about a recent conversation I had with a prospective client the other day when providing an appropriate analogy by using the healthcare setup as an example of how a good business advisor or coach can help solve many common business-related issues that can be easily improved on or fixed entirely.
We all know the healthcare system today is supposedly a well-oiled machine whereby your GP is usually the first line of attack or defence (depending which way you look at the problem) and then if unresolved, this amazing network of specialists can be called upon to take over and the GP remains in a supportive role as part of your overall healthcare team. The other important point to make is that going to the GP does not always have to be about addressing illness but also for regular check-ups for preventative care and self-maintenance.
So, the question I ask is: How is this different for a business owner that seeks help with either solving challenges that have the potential for making the business sick or addressing improvements needed to prevent problems and maintain growth for the future? The reality is, we all build systems that reference and replicate each other in some way or another and so just like you seek a GP as the go to expert that you trust and connect with for your general health and well-being, finding the equivalent for your business healthcare needs should be no different.
Drilling down a bit further, I thought to illustrate this comparison in more detail and give you guidance around some key things to consider before making any decisions about embarking on a journey with a suitably qualified business advisor:
When you first enter the GP room to discuss your problem, who does most of the talking during the early part of the interaction? From my experience, the GP is asking a combination of open and closed questions and gathering as much information as possible from the patient before doing any further tests or presenting any solution as to how they can help. An experienced business coach should be following a similar process. Subtle but targeted questioning often accompanied by a questionnaire that is solely focused on identifying their client’s needs is a typical approach used by suitably trained and qualified advisors or coaches. If this is not happening or the business coach is jumping into pitch mode showcasing all their wonderful attributes and success stories of how they help other clients during this early phase of the process, then alarm bells should be ringing!
This is such an important step and one which both skilled GP’s and business coaches alike have an innate ability to breakdown relevant information and go below the surface to diagnose the root cause of the problem. A good example of this could be the establishment of an underlying infection that is causing a patient to display more superficial symptoms initially. Similarly, a client may be haemorrhaging cash out of the business but is unaware of how their current working capital cycle is contributing to this critical issue. Another key part of this process (and perhaps even more important) is to determine early on whether specialist intervention is necessary or appropriate. A classic example could be where a GP refers the patient to say a dermatologist for a skin issue that is beyond their scope of training or knowledge, just as a business coach would refer a client to an accountant or financial advisor for tax advice or complex compliance requirements around restructuring the business.
This critical phase of the process is where things can unravel for both patient and business client alike. Just like completing the required medication regimen to kill off an infection, so too would you need to persevere with following through and completing those activities identified to strategically grow the business. In some cases, it is also important to be patient and open-minded as to what course of treatment or action is required, especially with more complex issues to be resolved. A period of trial and error is often a result of this dilemma and mental toughness becomes more of a focus point.
Integrity, Trust & Empathy
Bedside manner goes a long way in ultimately delivering either superior healthcare or business support. In my view, an empathetic approach that is genuine builds trust and is a powerful enabler that will better serve the patient or client in overcoming obstacles. Feeling supported motivates action and having an accountability partner that you connect with will prevent unhelpful procrastination tendencies and lead to be better outcomes on both the health or business front. When it comes to the matter of integrity and confidentiality, we tend to automatically trust our medical professionals with such sensitive information. The same standards should be applied to those who provide advisory and coaching services that address your business needs.
The above comparison is a simple example and is by no means exhaustive. The message I am trying to convey is that we tend to prioritise health and well-being in literal or absolute terms and that perhaps we should consider applying a similar approach to different areas in our lives that can also have profound effects. After all, surely you can see that our physical, emotional, spiritual and financial well-being are completely interrelated.