Being a coach, naturally I am chuffed that coaching has become so popular. It is no longer a service that is reserved for CEOs and celebrities.
Just like personal training, personal coaching has become accessible and valued by a growing number of people across all sections of life. And in the same way as personal training helps us become more effective at hitting our fitness goals, personal training helps us with other goals in our career and in life.
Yet the number of coaches is growing rapidly and I appreciate that it can be tough finding the right one for you. The best way to start is with a recommendation from someone you trust. If you don’t have a recommendation, you can Google or search for coaches on online directories. You will be spoiled for choice, though, so how do you choose?
Here are a few tips for finding the right coach for you:
What type of coach should you go for?
The first step is to decide is what type of coach you would like to work with:
- A “career coach” will be specialised in assisting you with career-related issues, such as a career change.
- An “executive coach” works mainly with corporate employees from middle management to CEO level. The focus of the work is typically on work-related issues such as leadership, people management, conflicts and performance.
- If someone calls themselves a “life coach”, it often means that he or she does not have a particular specialisation.
- There are also coaches who specialise in specific areas, such as stress, relationships, mindfulness or energy. They will mention this specialisation on their business cards, websites or online profiles.
- Other coaches specialise in supporting a particular demographic group; for example, working mums, lawyers, young people, and so on.
What type of coaching process do you want?
Coaching is not regulated and there is no official standard that tells you what to expect. Coaching can therefore mean a lot of different things and coaches often develop their own unique styles. When you interview a coach, ask him to explain how he works.
Here are few basic distinctions:
- performance coaching: the coach helps you explore options and strategies for getting from where you are to where you want to be
- transformational coaching: the coach includes deeper work than in performance coaching; for example, by asking who you need to be to reach your goals
- exploratory coaching: this coaching methodology is closer to therapy in that it allows you to talk and explore your issues with minimal intervention and guidance by the coach
- Neurolinguistic-Programming (NLP): Strictly speaking not coaching, but often offered as an alternative or add-on service to coaching. NLP is the name given to a range of processes designed to change the way you think, feel and behave. You will talk much less about the stories behind your issue than in coaching or therapy. Instead, your practitioner will take you through specific exercises.
How can I know that my coach is any good?
Whilst the coaching profession is not regulated, there are a few industry bodies that have developed coaching standards. Those organisations accredit coach training and individual coaches against those standards. The best-known coaching organisation is called the International Coach Federation (ICF).
When you select a coach, I recommend checking the following points:
- Does she hold a diploma or other coaching qualification which is accredited by the ICF?
- Is she also personally accredited by the ICF?
- Does she have testimonials from satisfied customers?
- For how long has she been in the coaching business?
- Can she demonstrate a specialisation in the area in which you want to be coached?
- Does she have any professional experience outside coaching that could be useful in the coaching relationship?
- Does she charge a decent fee for her services? If she charges less than you pay for a massage or a haircut, chances are that she doubts her own value or lacks experience.
Most coaches will offer packages of coaching sessions that typically start with six sessions, but they can be as much as a full year of coaching. Before you commit to buying a package I recommend having a trial session with the coach. This should be a proper coaching session rather than just a chat over a coffee. You want to have a real experience of what it is like to be coached by that person. Only commit if you got value out of this session, if you trust the person and you feel that the chemistry is right.
During the trial session watch out for the following, which indicate good-quality coaching:
- He explains the process and agrees with you rules and goals for your work together.
- He gives you full and undivided attention. He listens more than speaks. You want a coach, not a preacher!
- He allows you to find your own solutions rather than leading you into a direction that he thinks is right for you.
- He does not show any judgment or bias to anything you tell him.
- He reflects back to you what he heard without adding his own interpretation.
- He wraps up the session by allowing you to reflect on your insights and discussing next steps.
I love coaching so much that I have my very own coach. In fact I have two right now! I have worked with many coaches over the course of the last decade and found them all without any recommendations. I just “knew” that they were a good fit when I found them; and indeed that gut feeling may be a much better guide for you than any of my tips above!
If you have any questions about finding the right coach for you, or if you would like to book a complimentary call with me to discuss your personal goals and ambitions in life, do contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Career & Life Coaching for Masterful Living®