Coaches and consultants - two similar sounding titles, two very different propositions. Both have an important role to play in helping businesses, and the people who work in them, bring about the changes necessary to solve problems, grow, and develop.
Working with clients on a one-to-one basis, coaches support company principles or senior team members to bring out the skills required to develop a solution to a problem the company has, or to help a person achieve their career goals.
Coaches can act as a ‘critical friend’, asking questions and prompting the principal to create, and be accountable for their own action plans.
A coach may have held a high-position in a business and will be trained to work with senior professionals to unleash their potential.
The focus for a coach is the person.
Consultant work directly on issues, bringing additional skills and expertise to the problem. This could be in areas such as strategy planning, transformational change, digital marketing techniques or IT solutions.
Often working in teams, consultants will conduct research to find out what a problem really is, develop and test hypotheses, then recommend solutions or plans of action and will often assist implementation. The focus of consulting is to complete projects and tasks that enhance your business.
A consultant will hold relevant qualifications, will have business experience, and will have specific business skills, bringing expertise to areas in need of help.
The focus for a consultant is the task.
Which to choose?
To decide whether a coach or consultant is best for your situation, ask yourself a few questions:
What are your personal needs?
What are you trying to accomplish?
What stage is your business in?
What specialist knowledge do you need from a coach or consultant?
A coach might be right if you want support to keep yourself accountable and on the right track to achieve certain objectives; or if you seek objective advice or even need someone to push you outside your comfort zone.
However if you have a particular project you want completing or if you are looking to introduce transformational change across the organisation or in specific areas (IT, HR) , then a consultant will be a better fit.
Coaching and consultancy are two distinct approaches to addressing a business need. Asking yourself the right questions about your business’s specific situation will help you make the right choice.
Neither is a better approach than the other and both can deliver tangible benefits, and make a positive impact on your business.