When I was a teenager I had a friend who had more driving instructors over the space of four years than she did boyfriends. The first one was a shouter so she dumped him. With the second they spent more time parked up having fag breaks than they did driving. The third was joyless. The fourth and final instructor was the one she passed her test with. They clicked straight away. He took the mick out of the mistakes she made, he didn’t take himself too seriously, she felt at ease and confident behind the wheel under his tutelage.
Taking a leaf out of the Goldilocks book
We teased her and called them Goldilocks and Daddy Bear for a while. When she passed her driving test on the first go we stopped. You see, she had done exactly the right thing. She wasn’t making progress with the first 3 instructors. She knew that to reach her goals she had to find the right person to guide her there.
Coaching is a funny old game. Some people see having a coach as a badge of honour and talk about their coach openly, others are more guarded. Often because they feel like they should be able to get their shizzle together under their own steam or they don’t think they need help. Whichever camp you fall into, coaching is normally a pretty chunky investment in both financial and emotional terms so if you’re thinking of going ahead and finding someone to work with it makes sense to find the right coach for you. Which isn’t always easy.
Do’s and Don’ts
As a coach myself, I’m very selective about who I choose to coach me. These are the do’s and don’ts I use to guide my decision.
Decide what it is that you want to gain from working with a coach. If it’s just a vague feeling that other people use coaches so you should too then it’s going to be hard to find the right person. The more specific you can be about what you want the outcome to be from working with someone, the easier it will be to find that person
Consider what approach and style you need ahead of the label someone gives themself. Coaching is a broad term and there’s no single definition, which means the approach taken by coaches varies massively
At one end of the spectrum, you’ve got advice and teaching. Somewhere in the middle you have a mentoring, guiding approach. And then you have the ‘purist’ definition where there is no advice or knowledge transfer at all, just questions to support you to come up with your own answers
Purists can often be recognised by their tendency to get their knickers in a knot that other people call themselves coaches, but there is no right or wrong with any of these approaches (other than what’s right or wrong for you)
If you want someone to tell you exactly what to do and in what order, a load of questions rather than advice will probably be really frustrating. You’re probably best placed with someone who has already worked with clients who’ve followed their advice and achieved whatever it is you’re looking to achieve
Equally, if you hate being told what to do and just need the time and space to untangle what’s going on in your head you are going to get royally pissed off with a whole heap of advice. More important to find someone who will challenge you and ask the right questions
Put your online stalking skills to good use. Once you’ve started to narrow it down a bit, look at their social media, website and testimonials. Use this to get a flavour for the kind of person they are, the type of people they work with and whether they seem like your kind of person. If you don’t like the opinions they share or you disagree with the stuff they’re talking about you’re probably not going to enjoy working with them. Don’t ignore the things that turn you off
Speak to a few of the people you’re most drawn to working with. Pretty much all coaches will gladly have a chat with you before you make a commitment. Good coaches will be fussy about who they are prepared to take on as a client, so they have as much to gain as you do from having a conversation first!
Ask on social media for recommendations on a coach to work with. Without fail, whenever I see a question asked in a Facebook group or on a LinkedIn post, the poster gets bombarded with people recommending their own coach or pitching their own services. Everyone is trying to be helpful but these posts have a tendency to descend into chaos. Instead, start by asking people who know you well whether there’s anyone they can suggest you check out based specifically on what you want to achieve
Rush into it or be pressured to make an immediate decision. Discovery calls are a great way to ask questions and find out how someone works but don’t feel like you have to make a decision on the call. A good coach will help you come to the right decision even if that decision is a “no”. Unfortunately, I’ve heard one too many horror stories about people being pushed to sign up for expensive coaching packages there and then. Being guilt-tripped into saying yes is not a good start to a coaching relationship. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a quick decision if you know it’s the right coach for you, just that sleazy sales tactics have no place here
Hold back from asking about their training, experience, qualifications, professional development or personal values. You might feel confident to make the decision without asking this stuff and that’s great. But if you’re stumping up a chunk of cash to work with someone you’re more than entitled to ask about it. Frankly, most half decent coaches have piled a lot of money and effort into their own personal and professional development and being asked about it is refreshing
The right coach could have a huge impact on you and your business so take your time. You can afford to be fussy. Goldilocks didn’t sit down and hoof her way through the first bowl of porridge, she didn’t put up her feet in the first chair and she didn’t nod off in the first bed. She took her time, checked out all the options and went with the one that was just right
If you’re at the ‘checking out the options’ stage and I’m on your shortlist, then let’s have a chat