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How to coach businesses through a crisis: 5 tips

Apr 30, 2020

There’s no denying it — a lot of businesses are taking a hit right now. Nationwide shutdowns and the sudden onset of remote work have disrupted operations, threatened productivity and left companies in crisis…but there’s still hope. At times like these, companies often lean on their business coaches for guidance, meaning you can provide the support your clients need to come out of this crisis even stronger.

Sounds tough, we know. But it’s not impossible. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to coaching customers through COVID-19 — and anything else that comes their way.

Tip #1: Recognize that you can’t fix this

Many business coaches are action-oriented; It’s what makes them so successful at helping companies grow and succeed. But, while there are tons of problems business coaches can solve, external crises just aren’t one of them. It might be hard to accept, but once you do, you’ll be more open to your clients’ immediate needs, allowing you to give meaningful, informed advice.

Tip #2: Keep your head in the present, and eyes on the future

Things change quickly in a crisis, which means your clients need to be ready to act. However, it’s important to keep the company’s future in mind regardless. Encourage your clients to continue thinking about the future, but ensure their decisions are informed by the real-time data and events. In times of crisis, it’s important to focus on each step you take — but you should still know where you’re walking to.

Tip #3: Don’t avoid the problem

In a crisis, communication is key. Find structured ways to encourage communication amongst your clients and their teams. This could mean extra check-ins, more all-staff updates, a reliable cadence between leadership and team members, or all of the above.

Crises hurt, but so does panic. The only way to avoid this is to calmly communicate what you know to be true, and what the next move should look like. Don’t make things seem better than they are, but err away from pessimism. Advise your clients to be realistic, and to communicate, communicate, communicate.

Tip #4: Be emotionally available

Business-owners are human; Crisis scares them as much as it scares anyone else. This can leave them vulnerable, and, if they’re not careful, that vulnerability can trickle down into their business. Let them know they’re not going through this in isolation. If necessary, encourage them to reach out into their own professional networks for peer support.

Most of all, let them know you’re human, too. Reassure them that you know what they’re going through, and check in with them often. Use these touchbases to anticipate their needs, and help direct their energy toward the next right move — even if it’s just getting through the day.

Tip #5: Encourage clients to go back to the basics

For most businesses, staying afloat is the top priority during a crisis. To do this, clients should take stock of what has helped their businesses grow already. Ask your clients to consider the following:

  • What are their strengths?
  • How do they communicate value to their customers?
  • Does anything need to go on the backburner?

This is a great opportunity for your clients to reexamine their priorities and realign with their teams. Certain things may need to be taken out of the equation temporarily, but deprioritized projects shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, they might come in handy.

You got this.

Crises are scary for business coaches, too — we get that. It’s not going to be easy, but your expertise and experience will provide the support necessary for clients to recover from this (and any) crisis. Times like this shake businesses to their core, but they also provide a unique opportunity to grow, develop and adapt as a team. With your guidance, your clients won’t just survive this. They’ll own it.


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