Standards Australia is preparing to release guidelines on professional coaching, but an industry expert says that they won’t be the most important factor for start-ups.
A non-government agency, Standards Australia develops internationally-aligned Australian Standards, and is currently working on a new set of guidelines for professional coaching, calling for input from corporate and industry stakeholders.
According to Standards Australia chief executive Colin Blair, coaching is a rapidly growing area of professional practice, which demands clearer guidelines for both providers and end-users.
“We recognise coaching as an increasingly significant driver of professional growth and business development. It’s important that there’s an agreed set of guidelines,” Blair says.
Matt Larkworthy, general manager of the Business Development Company, says while he supports the concept of industry guidelines, he doesn’t believe it’s the most important factor.
“If there are some standards that people can ascribe to or relate to, then for some that would be really good,” he says.
“I’d relate it in this way – I have quite a cynical view of the personal trainer facilities that are available to people,” he says.
“You’ve got people who go and participate in a six to eight-week course and then are professional trainers.”
“In the same way, anybody can call themselves a mentor or a coach, and some have not had the prerequisite experience or the formal qualifications to do so.”
“There’s got to be a bit of grey hair behind it – not necessarily in age but in experience.”
From a business owner’s point of view, Larkworthy says seeking out relevant industry experience should be the priority when enlisting the help of a business coach.
“If you’re after an IT solution, don’t go and ask somebody in the logistics sector,” he says.
“Shop around and look for somebody who understands not only the economic business drivers but also the cultural fit and cultural issues of your business, so that they’re not providing business coaching and mentoring and strategic direction that conflicts with the true culture of the business.”
“I don’t necessarily think they have to comply [with a set of industry guidelines]. I think it’s about the value the business owner can derive out of an interaction with a business coach.”
Larkworthy also advises businesses to seek out different coaches at different stages of their business.
“I think it would be a naïve perspective on the behalf of the business owner or the senior manager to think that a business coach is going to stick with you from cradle to grave,” he says.
“Your needs, as a business, are going to change, and your need for different expertise and intervention is going to be different throughout the lifecycle of the business.”