From the VetPartners Experts: Who Needs a Coach?

Jun 13, 2019 at 4:26 pm
Jeff Thoren, DVM, PCC, BCC

As a veterinary practice leader, you are undoubtedly attracted to the idea of creating a business that delivers excellent results while, at the same time, being a great place to work. This is often easier said than done as the daily challenges of variable employee accountability, sub-optimal staff communication, workplace tension, and inconsistent service delivery can get in the way.

More veterinary leaders are discovering that seeking out the services of a professional coach is a great way to get “unstuck,” overcome these challenges, and be more successful. However, if the word “coach” conjures up images of running laps, doing drills, and being yelled at by a jock wannabe with a whistle around his neck, you might be understandably hesitant to explore this relatively new approach to professional development.

The good news is that coaching is a proven learning strategy for delivering desired results such as enhanced communication, better collaboration, and increased employee satisfaction. In fact, one-on-one coaching was rated the most effective method for developing management and leadership skills according to a survey by the American Management Association.

So, ask yourself:

  1. Do I want to improve some aspect of my life or work experience?
  2. Am I open to feedback and willing to create positive change?

If both your answers are “yes,” hiring a coach may be a great option to help you achieve your goals and produce fulfilling results in your personal and professional life.

Let’s examine what it means to be coached in a business versus a sporting context and redefine coaching as it applies to learning and development in today’s workplace.

What is coaching and what do coaches do?

“Coaching” is often a catch-all word for skills training, instruction, and daily guidance. But it’s really none of these things. Similarly, coaching is not the same as traditional consulting. Consultants are hired for their expertise. They are teachers, not coaches, who teach their clients how to approach their business and personal issues.

Coaching is an art of discovery more than a science of delivery. The coach begins from a position of humility and curiosity, not authority and knowledge. He or she uses questions and conversation to help you come up with your own answers, which conveys respect for your expertise and a belief that real growth comes from within, not from any external source.

Coaching through inquiry helps you tap into your natural strengths and talents to make the desired changes. It helps you develop flexibility and adaptability, create awareness of your shortcomings, and build commitment to self-development and achievement. With coaching, you’ll set better goals, take more action, and make better decisions.

A coach is a confidante, sounding board, and trusted thinking partner. A good coach will:

  • Help you clarify challenges and discover aspirations
  • Encourage self-discovery and reflection
  • Challenge and encourage you to expand your horizons
  • Help you generate solutions and strategies
  • Make you accountable for your commitments

The coaching process consists of a series of confidential meetings that focus on your specific agenda.

You should consider hiring a coach if:

  • You’re a leader who wants to develop, articulate and create alignment around a vision for your team
  • You want to learn new, more effective ways of leading or managing
  • You’re transitioning into a new role at work (e.g., you’ve just been promoted or assigned a supervisory role)
  • You’re a technically competent team member but want to become more adept at influencing others and understanding team dynamics and organizational culture
  • You need more skill in a specific area (e.g., interpersonal communication or conflict management)
  • After attending a conference or workshop, you’re aware of changes you’d like to see in yourself or your workplace and want to take action

In every case, coaching will provide the structure and accountability you need to make important changes or achieve specific goals. As a result of working with a coach, you will:

  • Gain clarity and a clear focus on what’s really important to you
  • Develop greater self- and situational awareness
  • Experience accelerated personal and professional growth
  • Make measurable progress toward your goals by being more intentional
  • Reduce your stress and increase your happiness and fulfillment

So, do you need a coach?

Hopefully you are now better equipped to answer this question.  Coaching is all about exploring choices, and a decision to engage a coach is a choice to make if you want to continue your personal and professional growth and development.  You won’t be asked to run laps or do push-ups.  You will be asked to commit to a learning process that will allow you and your team to achieve desired goals and objectives.  This choice is all yours!


Looking for more resources to help you improve your practice and your life? Check out VetPartners’ practice management resources or hire an experienced and trusted VetPartners member to help get you to where you want to be.

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Jeff is an enlightened rebel who seeks a creative destruction of the status quo. He is inspired by an idealistic vision of a better workplace experience and is determined and creative in his pursuit of it. The majority of organizations today still rely on industrial age management practices and paternalistic forms of leadership. Jeff's personal mission is to increase awareness around these outdated behaviors and point the way to innovative new solutions. Jeff is talented at seeing things in unique and though-provoking ways and challenges others to think outside the box. He is compelled to rouse people from conformity and to inspire them to see how they can act to make a difference. In his life and work, Jeff values uniqueness (the need to express personal gifts and creativity), wholeness (the need to feel sufficient as an individual and connected to others as part of something larger), lightheartedness (the need for joyful experience), and justice (the need to live by shared human values and to shift from "power over" to "power with"). Jeff encourages you to be part of a cultural rebellion that leads to positive change, reform, and renewal. Together, we can accelerate the shift to a more humane workplace and world!

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