What Job do “coaches” do?

What Job do “coaches” do?

The “job” trainers, coaches and mentors do are all the same. It’s all Learning, it is just they each do the same job a different way.

No one way is better than the others, but depending on your current situation, one way will be better than the others for you.

This article will focus on using the competency/confidence loop as a decision-making tool to decide where you are at when deciding on getting a coach, mentor, or do you need training.

Competency is black and white. You can either do the task, or you can’t, based on what the minimum acceptable standard is for that task. This doesn’t mean you can’t do the “job”.

Proficiency is about quality indicators, doing a task better than the minimum standard, which sometimes means doing it differently.

To be proficient, people need to trust you can, and understand how to, do the job before they will accept you can do the job a better. Unfortunately, no-one can be TOLD what “the Matrix” is… you have to show them… Same goes with proficiency.

There is no right way for everyone to show competency either, but there are some that are wrong, and others that are just wrong for you.

How do you know what is right?

How do you know what you don’t know?

You wouldn’t need a trainer, coach or mentor is you knew how to do it, so the question usually is who do you trust to give you what you need?

I often hear people say, “I did this (course), and paid (dollars) for it, but didn’t learn anything new!”. My response to this is “that’s wonderful, so you learned you do know what you’re doing”, then I ask “so when are you going to do it?”. The answer I usually get is “I don’t know (how)!”.

They do know how, they just don’t have the self-belief, or confidence in their own abilities to do it. This is what is known as “unconscious competency”, and they don’t see the value in training because they do because they don’t need it.

What they need is support (in this case), and can usually get it from mentors who see their potential in non-formal learning opportunities (such as Meetups), generally for free. We have already discussed in previous blogs how mentors are repaid for their time, and for now, it is seen as free, but also highly valuable.

The role of coaches sits in the Goldilocks’ zone of the competency/confidence loop. You need enough confidence to know you could do it to be competent, and then you get confidence from (repeatedly) doing the tasks you think you could do.

However, some people are too confident in their own abilities, and some industries require to get a license to complete certain tasks. This is a Work Health and Safety issue, which now include “mental health”.


This series of articles is more about explaining the current situation in the training industry to people outside the industry. To make it relative, let’s make it about people’s relatives or people they have a relationship with. Even if you are not a parent, you would understand the role they play in society and the job they do.

Although you may believe some are better parents than others, whatever a parent does, it is good enough. Everyone is a good parent until there is a problem, then what do you do? You need options.

If you read the first article in this series of blogs, where it explains differences between trainers, coaches, and mentors, you may not see why I appear to be picking on coaches here. It is just “Coaches, placed in the middle, and have battles from both sides, just like parents do”.

If you are a coach

Particularly in Small Business/start-up, does this sound familiar:

“Coaches, we all wonder if we are getting it right. We want to know we are meeting our client’s needs, helping them grow, and giving them all that we can.

We try to combine our own experience of learning, with the advice of others, and our own instincts and beliefs about what is best. Yet, we still often worry that we are not succeeding (AKA, failing).

In a world that is always offering the next best solution, our solution is based on decades of research….”

You could substitute leaders for coaches in this statement, and team members for clients and this would still sound familiar. Just as you could put business owner for coaches, and customers for clients, but were this statement comes from is from a video directed at the role of a parent.

Watch this video and see if it gives you an idea of how behavioral cues from a target market could be used to identify basic needs of others to build trust, particularly in the training industry. After all, parents have the job of providing learning too.

Rather than try and explain “jobs theory” to you, I am going to leave that to the Harvard Business Review article on it. You should have found when you Google as instructed too, twice already, and if you didn’t, ask yourself why you didn’t read it?

I will, however, use a quote from the HBR article as another to try and explain to you the size of the training industry, just in case you are more into the food industry:

“how big is the milkshake market? It’s a serious question. Well, of course, you wouldn’t know the answer, but it turns out that the size of the market is much bigger than the sum of the milkshakes sold by McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s. Because from the customers’ point of view, they compete also against bananas and donuts and so on.”

To the customers of the training industry, that industry is huge. Too many options for learning that people can only comprehend what they see is relevant to them. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. So as a business owner, you want to nail it and scale it. But how do you know you are getting the latest innovations in your industry?

In the next article, we will look at a case study of someone who has well and truly been able to scale his business. He has openly admitted to using the “diffusion of innovations” theory to do this. He didn’t do it on his own, or by keeping it to himself, nor was it just his TED talk that spread his Idea. He now believes “Together is better”, but in the next article, we can “start with why” it worked for him. Then, you can work out how it could work for you.

That’s what early adopters do; “what if” I can do it too? Their competency/confidence loop works in reverse to the rest of the population, which causes issues with the inventors as early adopters look for new uses.

What’s the issue?

WiFi, an Australian invention, is one of the most adaptable advances in technology in recent years, but do you know what WiFi was invented for, or by who?

Now can you see an issue? So as an inventor, what would you do?

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