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Over the last 20 years, coaching has become more and more popular. Demand for coaching, of all types, has soared as people have begun to see the value of having a coach to help make hard things easier.
In the gym, we can get coaching to learn new techniques, become stronger, or compete in an endurance event. Financial coaches help people make strategies for paying down debt and hitting savings goals. Business coaching books make turning a geeky obsession into Google or Pixar sound almost easy.
In professional and college sports, the top coaches have become household names. They’re on TV, sharing their perspectives in interviews, guesting on podcasts, and endlessly quoted. If coaching is critical to the continued success of some of the most incredible athletes in the world, it stands to reason that it could improve people’s performance in all areas of life.
Coaching is especially important in today’s world. So many people are working to navigate uncertainty, find better work-life balance, change careers, and find more meaning and happiness in their lives. They don’t know where to start or what strategies will get them where they want to be. For them, professional coaching is an invaluable tool.
BetterUp is a pioneer of skill-based coaching, which aims to help members develop the skills and behaviors to achieve their goals, whatever they may be. BetterUp’s skill-based coaching also takes into account the tight interconnection between our personal and professional lives and the way personal well-being impacts professional performance. It makes use of evidence-based techniques that have been backed by research and science.
The benefits of coaching
Coaching has many benefits. Having an objective outsider has two immediate benefits:
1) They help us see ourselves and our actions and behaviors in a way that we generally cannot on our own.
2) They help keep us accountable for our goals and plans. This benefit applies to most forms of coaching.
Beyond that, the benefits of different types of coaching vary wildly.
Many misconceptions exist about the benefits of skills and leadership coaching. That’s because due to the qualitative, subjective nature of coaching work, the return on investment (ROI) has been difficult to quantify. Companies like BetterUp who have built coaching relationships with thousands of professionals have been able to validate this investment by tracking the personal and professional changes that matter most.
BetterUp tracks member growth through the Whole Person Model (WPM). The WPM is an assessment tool specifically designed to reflect behaviors that people can change. It measures traits that impact others and link to well-being, performance, and collaboration.
By dedicating time to intentional growth with a trained, experienced professional, coaching participants experience the following benefits:
- Greater self-awareness. Coaching participants have an opportunity to reflect in a non-judgmental space. They review situations, goals, and interactions and become more aware of what makes them tick.
- Improved communication. In coaching, people can practice setting boundaries, apologizing, or potentially difficult conversations. They can receive feedback on how their tone, mannerisms, and choice of words impact others.
- More confidence. Your coach may not always agree with you, and they can’t give you the answers or do the work for you, but they’re always in your corner. Knowing that someone has your back and that you’re working to be the best you can be boosts your self-esteem.
- Accountability. People who are working with coaches set clear goals. They are intentional about the steps they take to achieve their goals, and they stay focused. Having a coach to keep you accountable helps improve your chances of hitting your goals.
- Better well-being. Employees who are less stressed are healthier and spend less on healthcare services. Coaching is shown to help reduce stress and burnout. Participants learn to manage their workloads with more efficiency. This has a positive impact on work-life balance.
One of the most common misconceptions about coaching is that it only benefits those who are executive-level leaders. Coaching can be effective at any level.
Everyone can benefit from having the tools to better understand and regulate themselves and to better make sense of the people around them. Everyone can benefit from having the skills and resources to improve their own well-being. Everyone can benefit from developing mental strength and resilience to better weather the next unexpected event.
No matter what stage you’re at in your career — or whether you’re working with a personal or professional coach — coaching can make a difference.
14 different types of coaching — in and out of the workplace
Here’s a brief overview of 14 major types of coaching and how they may benefit you. Keep in mind that although they can be broadly split into at-work/outside-work, you may notice quite a bit of overlap. That’s to be expected — after all, there is no work-you and home-you. Coaching, no matter the area of focus, will make a positive difference in every area of your professional and personal life.
Types of coaching outside of work
Whether you’re unsure how to ask for a raise or get your teenager to open up to you, communication can help remove those blocks. Even though it’s a valuable type of “at-work” coaching, the benefits will ripple throughout all areas of your life.
Best for: anyone who wants to learn to communicate effectively, either one-on-one or with a group
Holistic health coaching
Also known as wellness coaching, holistic health coaching includes interventions in physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health to promote well-being. Wellness coaches aim to develop balance in a way that supports optimal, whole-person health and growth.
Best for: anyone who wants to improve their work-life balance and overall well-being
Spiritually oriented, intuitive coaching works with the subconscious. Coaches work with their clients to release past blockages and trauma. The goal is often to manifest a desired outcome by developing new ways of thinking.
Best for: anyone who is feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or unsure of what to do next
While you may have heard the term “life coach,” few professionals refer to themselves in such a broad way. Life coaching is simply about making progress and finding greater fulfillment in life. Because of its broad definition, almost all kinds of coaching fall under this term.
Best for: anyone, but especially if you’re not sure how to use your strengths or achieve your goals
Mental health coaching
Mental health coaching helps bolster mental fitness by challenging thought patterns. Through this type of coaching, people learn to manage stress and develop strategies to deal with difficult emotions. Although it is distinct from therapy, it can be a wonderful complement to support from a trained mental health professional.
Best for: anyone who wants to understand and manage their emotional well-being
Although most people think of couples’ counseling, relationship coaching can benefit any type of relationship. Family members, friends, and even business partners can work with a relationship coach to learn to communicate with greater ease.
Best for: anyone who wants to improve their close relationships (inside and outside of work)
Quickly growing in popularity, transformational coaching challenges old, ingrained patterns of thought. Coachees often see themselves and their circumstances in a new way. They become empowered to identify how they can take action towards the life they want.
Best for: anyone who is looking for greater clarity, purpose, and passion in their personal and professional lives
Types of coaching in the workplace
Often earmarked just for C-suite executives, this type of coaching works with the top-level leaders at an organization. An executive coach typically focuses on how to create team synergy, implement new ideas, and deal with company-wide change.
Best for: business owners, executive-level leaders, and anyone who sets the vision and goals for an organization
Leadership development coaching
Leadership coaches teach new skills that help individuals become better at working with others. The focus is often on how to work with different types of people and motivating them to reach personal and team goals.
Best for: anyone who leads or manages a team or wants to get promoted
Want to get better at your job? A performance coach, possibly a supervisor or colleague, helps people with skills and performance that is specific to meeting the objectives of their current job. As with athletic coaching, performance coaching focuses on identifying areas for improvement and facilitating focused practice and feedback.
Best for: anyone who has specific deliverables at work or wants to be more efficient
A skills-oriented type of coaching, sales coaching is part training, part mentoring. It empowers salespeople to hit their goals through skills coaching and feedback.
Best for: anyone in a sales position or who wants to increase revenue
Strategy or business coaching
This kind of coaching — more akin to consulting — helps leaders develop a strategy for organizational growth or transformation. Unlike the other types of coaching, it focuses more on developing, rethinking, and executing a game plan at a specific moment in time for a specific business outcome than individual growth. It often includes facilitating an executive’s entire leadership team on the journey.
Best for: leaders navigating transitions or changes within their organizations
Success and career coaching are typically characterized by a focus on a larger goal. Coaches work with their clients to identify an objective in line with their career goals. With these in mind, they can then set milestones towards achieving it.
Best for: high-potential people at any stage of their career that are looking to go to the next level
A type of group coaching, these coaches teach team members the skills to collaborate and may facilitate more intensive sessions for team members to work through organizational challenges or problematic team dynamics. Team coaching might be paired with individual coaching for more outsized results.
Best for: teams that want to strengthen their communication skills and work cross-functionally
What about virtual coaching?
There really aren’t any special types of online coaching. Any kind of coaching, including wellness coaching, sales coaching, or leadership coaching, can be conducted online. In fact, it’s even possible to have group coaching virtually.
The success of a virtual coaching format comes down to the quality of the coach, their ability to connect with the coachee in any setting, and how well thought-out the technology and overall format and experience are. The usability of the technology, and to some degree the preferences and openness of the coachee, also make a difference.
Participating in online coaching sessions has distinct advantages for coaches, organizations, and individuals.
Benefits of online coaching:
There’s no beating the ease of online coaching platforms. Web-based communication tools make it easy to meet anytime and anywhere. There’s no need to rent an office space or commute to sessions since coaching conversations happen virtually.
Because the meeting place is a virtual one, participants can be matched with coaches from anywhere in the world. That means that they can benefit from a wider selection of coaches and experiences. It also means that their group coaching cohorts are also more diverse.
For larger organizations, virtual coaching is an ideal solution. A digital platform is easier to grow than an office, and more flexibility means a greater variety of qualified coaches to choose from.
Coaching is a tool that can empower people at all levels to leverage their unique strengths and achieve their goals. The specific types of coaching you choose will align with what you — and your team — hope to accomplish. But no matter what you decide to do, you’ll benefit from improved retention, well-being, and productivity.
BetterUp Staff Writer