Here are my 10 top pointers:
Why do you want a coach?
Having a good coach is an investment in you or your organisation to become more effective and successful. Coaching allows you to identify what holds you back, and develop the skills and approaches needed so that you can be the best you can be. Good coaching does not come cheap, but should be one of the best investments you ever make and should result in sustainable changes for the better. If you are feeling stuck, out of your depth, lacking in confidence, unsure of your next steps, or in need of independent, professional support to help you make decisions and changes, coaching can deliver in bucket-loads.
Look for the ‘chemistry’ or right fit for you
Read about, then speak to the coaches you’re considering. Perhaps they even offer a free consultation prior to any commitment. What areas do they work in? What experience have they had? How do they come across to you as a person and as a professional? You don’t need to find someone who’s just like you or who has worked in your field of work. It’s about whether you feel they have the right experience, skills, and approach to support you through the positive changes you want to make. Do they leave you feeling inspired about working with them? You should feel both excited and a bit scared that you’ll have your comfort zone stretched, so that you know change is possible.
Check out their qualifications
Unfortunately anyone can call themselves a ‘coach’. The difference between a coach and a good coach is the latter will have had some rigorous training (we’re not talking about just a weekend course here) and will keep their skills and professional development up to date so they facilitate repeated success for their clients. Are they qualifiied as a coach? What CPD do they do? Are they accredited? (This is an additional ‘seal of approval’ from a recognised professional coaching body such as the Association for Coaching or International Coaching Federation, which ensures a high level of experience, training, CPD and ethics.)
What about their track record?
What sort of people have they worked with? What things have their clients achieved through the coaching? Check out their website for case-studies and testimonials. Give them a ring or arrange to meet and ask them about their experience. Does it match the sort of things you want to achieve? Does it give you confidence they might be the right coach to support you? Do they have some form of guarantee, so if the match doesn’t turn out to be the right one after all, you don’t lose out fee-wise?
Where are they located?
Actually, this is a bit of a red herring. Many coaches work very successfully on the phone or Skype. Whilst you may feel meeting your coach face to face is important to you, have an open mind on this. Coaching can be just as powerful (sometimes even more so) on the phone. Rather than letting geography or travel time get in the way, choose a coach who feels just right for you, even if this means never meeting them in person.
Is their fee in the correct range?
There is no such thing as a ‘free lunch’. The fee coaches charge varies considerably, but you should expect it to be upwards of around £100 per session (2015 rates). For corporate coaching expect to pay anything between £150 and £500 per session. There are coaches out there who charge £50 per session. Any professional, experienced coach will have put in months, if not years, of training, will keep their skills up to date through courses, conferences, working with other coaches and reading, and probably have their own supervisor to help keep the quality and ethics of their coaching as they should be. Add to this that all good coaches limit the number they see in any one day to ensure the coaching is top-notch and will constantly say goodbye to clients, as they achieve their goals. All this comes at a cost. Whilst it isn’t necessarily true that the higher the fee, the better the quality of coaching, beware of fees that are low. Your coaching is a short-term investment for long-term gain and should be worth every penny.
What should you notice about a good coach?
Coaches tend to be good at helping you get from A to B – so you make the changes you need to make to get from where you are now in your life and/or work to where you want to be. A good coach will do all that and also spot what’s going on beneath the surface for you that might be tripping you up. They’ll help you identify these barriers and support you to turn this around so you build new, helpful approaches. They will offer you a balance of support to encourage you and challenge to inspire you to greater things. Their work will be transformational so you achieve your goals and make long-term positive changes. They will have a clear parameters about what they can and cannot do – for example they will not be offering you therapy – and the levels of confidentiality they offer. All this will be clearly set out in an agreement or contract for you to sign.
How will they work?
Your initial chat with the coach should give you a clear picture of how the coach will work with you. How long are the sessions? How many sessions can you expect? (A good coach will be able to give you an idea of the duration of the coaching programme. But don’t expect a fixed time-scale as this depends on a number of variables such as what you want to work on, your pace of change, and the habits you have developed that get in your way.) What can you expect from each session? What outcomes are likely from the coaching?
Is this the right time?
Are you really ready for this? Building renewed confidence, developing new skills, assessing where you’re going with your life, finding better approaches to your work and life all take time and effort. Are you ready to commit the time and space needed to make the changes required? Working with a good coach means you will be supported and encouraged every step of the way, but they cannot do the work for you. Starting work with a coach without you committing to making some changes to what you do and how you do it is destined for failure. With that commitment, and with the support of a good coach, there is no limit to what you might achieve.
What can I achieve with a good coach?
The possibilities are almost endless, depending on the coach you go for. Some results achieved through my coaching include achieving a promotion, getting into university, changing career or direction for something worthwhile and satisfying, getting back a sense of calm, control and confidence, becoming pregnant after years of trying, and moving from disorganised manager to effective leader. Read more about the sort of things people achieve through coaching in my case-studies.
In summary, the fee and location are less important if you want a good coach. Feeling that the ‘fit’ is right with what you want to achieve is. If the coach you are considering gives you the confidence that they will be able to support and challenge you to achieve the changes you want to make, you are likely to succeed. Finding that, wherever the coach is located, means the investment in yourself will be incredibly worthwhile.