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Personal coach aims to be guide to success

  • Ontru staff: pictured, from left, are Diane McCallum, Heather Couper, Vanessa Robinson and Jenny Smatt (Photograph supplied)

Many people make new year’s resolutions — they’ll lose weight, they’ll budget better, they’ll quit smoking.

But before January is even over, so many people fall off the wagon that this Friday has been designated “Ditch Your Resolution Day”.

Human resources consultant Heather Couper has a solution for people in the business arena — a personal coach.

“Coaching can significantly increase your chances at long-term, sustainable success,” she said. “Coaches work with individuals and companies to help them clarify their vision, mission, goals and strategies and hold them all accountable for the action steps to which they’ve committed.”

She joined Church Street consultancy firm Ontru, last November and has been offering coaching services to clients in addition to doing human resource work and training. She helps groups and individuals meet their goals.

“We are talking about formal coaching, but there are opportunities to do coaching on an informal basis,” she said. “I do find that sometimes when I am in an HR capacity that I will have someone come and want to talk through some of those difficult conversations.”

She encourages clients to look at the decision-making process and the bigger “why” behind their goals and resolutions.

“It also holds them accountable to the action steps they’ve said they will take,” she said. “It is really about empowering people,” she said.

Ms Couper admitted that sometimes coaching can be challenging, particularly when a client is on the cusp of a breakthrough, but hasn’t quite got there yet.

She qualified as a business coach in 2014 through the Institute for Professional Excellence and Coaching.

“They are now an international company, and I took courses in Canada and the United States,” she said.

Prior to working at Ontru, Ms Couper was assistant corporate new business manager at Conyers Corporate Services for three years.

“I grew up here, but I have worked abroad as well,” she said. “I would say one of the things that attracted me to work with Ontru is that they do have a strategic focus. That is something that Jenny [Smatt, Ontru president] has built in the business without losing sight of having to make sure that the operational pieces are in place. I also think that as a company they are always looking for the best way to do things, best practice, and not settling for the way we have always done things. They will see if there is potentially a better way we can work and help our clients to succeed.”

Ms Smatt said in the last 1˝ years they have seen an increase in managers seeking to increase their effectiveness.

“We have training offerings that integrates the coaching as well so there is learning content, but helps them to apply it,” she said. “They may be under stress or pressure and we can take the learning and figure out how best to apply it in real-time solutions.”

Ms Smatt believes the trend is driven by shifting business demands.

“Solutions have to be developed quickly to be effective,” she said.

And she said the nature of management is changing.

“The old approach to management practice was ‘do what I say and line up’,” she said. “That just doesn’t work any more for a number of reasons. We see generational shifts that are influencing the skill sets managers need in order to be effective.

“Coaching and dialogue are not only needed now, but will be increasingly needed in the future.”

Ms Smatt said there are many coaches and certified professionals in Bermuda offering coaching services, but Ontru couples coaching with learning.

“We try to integrate it with who the individual is,” Ms Smatt said.

She believes people do best when they can be themselves and not put a lot of separation between who they are in their work life and in their home life.

Both Ms Smatt and Ms Couper have used the services of a coach in their own careers.

“There is definitely something to be said about having someone who has your back, but at the same time they will hold you accountable,” Ms Couper said. “That is very empowering and they will help you set your goals and meet them.

“If you haven’t met them, what has stood in your way? Sometimes that is something external, but sometimes it is internal where maybe you didn’t believe that you could do it.”

Ms Smatt said there is tremendous value in thinking things through with others who can give direction and support.

For more information see www.ontru.bm, e-mail diane@ontru.bm or call 236-6878