Deciding to hire a coach is a big decision. Whether you are feeling stuck and unsure where the ‘stuckness’ is coming from or you want to work on a concrete topic like communication skills or stress management or you are looking for accountability to get a new business moving forward consistently, partnering with a professional can be daunting- but it doesn’t have to be. If you are considering working with a coach, here are some tips to help you make the best choice for you.
Understand what coaching is
Coaching has a positive impact on your thoughts, behaviours and emotions allowing you to move forward in new ways using internal resources that were previously unavailable to you. There are many highly trained coaches out there using research based methodologies to facilitate this, however it is not therapy and is not designed to help you overcome trauma. And while we are happy to share information that will allow you to further your growth we do not teach you how to develop your skills in a specific area in the way a mentor would, nor do we give advice like a consultant. Coaches use different enquiry techniques to help you develop awareness, grow personally and professionally, access your potential and design and move towards a future that is the greatest expression of you as an individual in every area of your life. If that´s what you´re looking for read on.
Green Flags- how to recognise a reputable coach
Coaching is still and unregulated field and as such anyone can call themselves a coach; with little or no training. You wouldn´t let a handyman re-wire your house don´t let an untrained professional re-wire your life, specific coach training from a reputable organisation is an absolute minimum when looking for a coach.
Life or business experience does not qualify you to coach and reputable coaches are trained to use evidence based methods. I have worked with many coaches over the years and I still made the mistake of forking out a lot of money for a business coach with tons of ‘experience’ who was unable to engage in coaching conversation that allowed me to get unstuck, she was a business mentor and a mediocre one at that but boy did she have a convincing sales pitch. Don’t be afraid to ask what your coaches qualifications are, and pay attention to the coach specific training rather than the impressive but irrelevant experience in other fields.
Affiliated with a professional body
If your coach is affiliated with a professional body it means a few things; they are committed to their own professional development and growing their skills, they coach using clearly identified competencies and abide to a code of ethics that has the client’s welfare at its core. There are many good coaches out there who are not affiliated to professional bodies but in an unregulated industry it is an indication of your coaches professional mindset. Good coaches get trained, great coaches continue to develop their skills and knowledge throughout their careers and this always benefits you as a client.
Some professional coaching bodies:
The International Coach Federation is one of the oldest and largest professional bodies for coaches and has members worldwide. It is a trailblazer in establishing high industry standards for coach training and delivery.
The International Association of Coaching is another global association that has high standards for its coaching processionals and rigorous criteria for assessing them.
The Association for Coaching is a UK Based organisation with members worldwide that is also dedicated to ensure the highest industry standards.
You feel heard and change feels possible
When you’ve had an initial consultation (or discovery call or whatever term the particular coach uses) you should feel positive about what is possible. You will spend a lot of the call talking about what’s not working in your life or career but a key factor in determining your success is whether or not your coach can get you moving in the direction of your dreams. If you feel heard and that hope and action are within your reach you are on the right track. Having said that beware of the snake oil sellers, which brings me to the red flags to watch out for.
Coaches who work with trauma
,This is a major red flag as it indicates a serious breach ethical standards. If you see someone is selling coaching as a solution to trauma or mental illness of any kind run in the other direction. Coaches are not trained to treat trauma, any coach who is offering their services to deal with trauma has either no training or no ethics. If you are dealing with trauma please seek the services of a professional who is trained to help you heal and thrive. You can do coaching at the same time, if your therapist agrees, and if not coaching will always be there for you further along in your journey.
Sign up now or be miserable forever
If you feel pressurised to sign up with a coach, whether it’s to take advantage of a special offer that’s only available if you sign up right now or within 24 hours watch out. A coach with your best interest at heart will not hold a gun to your head to sign up to their program. While coaches do need to make a living and organise their time hard sales tactics have no place in a partnership that is meant to be built on trust and mutual respect.
Similarly watch out for coaches who make you feel wrong for where you are. It is important for your coach to understand why you are seeking coaching at this time and we are ethically obliged to direct you to another service if we feel you would be better served by someone (e.g a therapist) but if you feel shamed by where you are think twice before investing your time, energy or money in someone who makes you feel bad then promises to fix you.
You´ll be making 6 figure and other lofty promises
Guarantees of grandiose outcomes are another red flag. I see a lot of programmes that promise specific outcomes in a concrete time frame but no coach can guarantee you’ll be making x amount of money in 12 weeks, lose 50 pounds, or find the love of your life. What we can guarantee you is to provide the conditions for change to take place by creating awareness, working with you to change your thoughts and behaviours and keeping you accountable. Everyone is different and our individual change patterns reflect that, we all need different things and have different definitions of success- only you can define what that is, and your timeline won’t look like anyone else’s, but if you are working with a decent coach one thing is guaranteed and that´s growth.
It breaks you
Working with a coach is a commitment and there is a financial component to that commitment. Few people have included coaching in their budgets, it’s an investment and one we usually don’t consider until we find ourselves stuck or we want to make some changes. It should stretch you but it shouldn´t break you. You may need to cut back on your daily Starbucks intake or miss a weekend away every now and then or even take a small loan or ask for payment plan but if you are being encouraged to invest in a 10,000€ coaching package and your annual income is 30,000€ don’t do it (especially if you are being told you need to believe it to move to the next level) . If you have to save for a few months or make some sacrifices then that’s another story. You will need mental and emotional energy to makes changes in your life and you won’t have much of either if you’re worried about losing the roof over your head, be discerning about how you use your resources.
Have a call with a coach, most coaches offer free consultations (and don’t be afraid to try more than one) See how it feels, do you find this person easy to talk to? Is there a sense of openness? Does how they speak have a positive or neutral effect on you? If your coach’s voice, accent or even the speed they speak grates on your nerves- they are not the coach for you. Sometimes there is an energetic mismatch, it’s not you, and it’s not them it’s just not a good fit. Yes, it does take time to build a relationship with your coach and there will be times when coaching feels uncomfortable, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a feeling that you get from the first conversation, whether it’s a niggling that you can’t quite put your finger on or your intuition is screaming at you –do yourself and your pocket a favour and listen to it. If you are not sure take some time to think about it. A coach worth their metal won’t put you under pressure to make a decision on the spot, and while we can´t hold a spot for you forever we also understand that it is a big decision to invest time and money in something that you haven’t experienced before and we will help guide you through the process from selection to completion.
The professional bodies have a search facility which allows you to search members, you can also ask around and see if you can get a personal recommendation or try a google search. Do your due diligence, you´ll be glad you did.
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