A friend told me today that “it seems like everybody is a coach nowadays.” In a world saturated with coaches, how do you pick one who’s going to rock your world? It’s true, the coaching field is exploding right now and from where I’m sitting, it’s starting to look a little crowded. If you’re looking for tips on what to look for in a coach, here are my suggestions!
How to Hire the Best Coach for You:
#1: How a coach brands herself is worth noting but it’s not everything.
There are many coaches out there with fancy words that fit in front of the word “coach.” It helps to describe the kind of work that they do and their clientele.. For example, if a coach describes herself as a “health and wellness coach,” you know that she works with different people than a “certified parenting coach.” They have different focuses and serve a different niche. Once you figure out your needs, , you can figure out what kind of coach to approach!
In my case, I call myself a life + biz success coach. In my view, the entrepreneurial journey is a messy one. You can’t make it out without intersecting the two. Your business influences how you’re doing in life and your life has a huge hand in how you’re able to succeed in your work. For example, if you’re dealing with a huge home repair that’s suddenly costing you thousands of dollars that you weren’t anticipating, notice how that might change the way you feel in your business. It might feel like a financial strain, it may also feel like a burden for you to resolve. It may also be an emotional burden because your home and your office (and half the time they’re one in the same) are compromised and your surroundings are disheveled. It’s all intertwined and there’s not a way to disentangle the two. Your coach can help to make sense of all of the stress and help you to move forward one step at a time.
Bottom line: you want a coach who who practices what she preaches.
#2: What are her credentials?
This is a question that I get asked ALL the time: Are credentials important? And then the automatic follow-up question: How do you ask a coach about her credentials?
First, what you have to know as a client is that the system is set up so that the potential client has to be proactive about finding out whether a coach has any kind of training. Coaches can get certified through the International Coaching Federation. However, the dark side of this is that there is nothing preventing Joe Shmoe from calling himself a coach without any certification. He could literally have NO experience working with people and still call himself a coach. (CRINGE).
In order to be an effective coach, I should also mention, you don’t need to have coaching training. There are professionals who have been in the business and know tips and tricks to help make others better. They’re that awesome. However, it’s important to ask what experience a coach has which makes them an expert in their field.
The one thing I’ll highlight for coaches who do go through training and/certification (you’re allowed to do one or both, again, it’s not regulated) is that these programs teach people how to coach. In my experience, you expand your toolkit of ways to think of the world, think of people, the issues they bring to the table, help clients access things that they’re not used to talking about. Coach training is imperative for a coach who wants to learn to be the catalyst for client transformations, not just progress. This type of coach knows the right powerful question to ask at the right time and to use skills that would normally be considered “weird” in the real world. If we’re doing our job correctly, we’re pushing you a little out of your comfort zone so you can explore something that’s normally not within your reach.
Bottom line: ask about their coaching training/credentials and coaching style if it’s important to you. Be an informed consumer.
#3: How much does she charge?
Charges among coaches have a HUGE range. Depending on where she is in terms of the start of her business or her training, she may be charging $50 per session or she might be charging $10,000 for three months. While there’s no real consensus about the price of coaching, the price you pay should make you feel stretched so that you’ll be accountable to meetings and the work you commit to doing, but not completely strapped. My philosophy is that I would rather pay cash for my investments rather than going into debt. (I’ll probably get some hate from coaches on this one…).
Bottom line: you get what you pay for, most of the time. Remember, this is an investment in yourself so along with your personal commitment, you need to feel confident that your coach is worth the price you pay.
#4 Do they offer a sample session?
Seeing whether a coach offers an introductory sample session (some call it a discovery call) is imperative. It’s also really important to find out what happens on those calls. For each coach it’s very different. The purpose of my discovery session is for somebody to actually experience my brand of coaching. Experiencing something is a completely different feel than just talking about coaching. It’s also a time for the client and the coach to assess whether this relationship would be a good coaching dynamic.
I believe that you shouldn’t pay a single penny until you’ve experienced the coaching of somebody you’re looking to hire. I’ve been in the “client” seat of some discovery calls and all I can tell you is that the quality of coaches, no matter the outward appearance or how much they claim to be making, is not equal. Some coaches leave a lot to be desired.
Bottom line: If you get to try a pair of contacts for free, you should be able to try your coach for free, too!
#5: What’s her coaching philosophy?
What does she believe about you and the world, even before she gets to know you? This point is a bit difficult to talk about and a little bit easier to observe. In her branding, whether it be through videos, blogs, instagram or facebook, you will begin to see the themes in the messages she’s putting out. What do these have in common? Do you believe the things she ascribes to? If you think that your outlooks on life coincide, that’s possible for a fruitful coaching relationship!
Bottom line: We tend to find the most comfort in things that are familiar so trust your gut on this one.
#6: Do you like her as a person?
SO important. You’ll be spending quite a bit of 1:1 time with this person. You better like her, her sense of humor, her personality, her quirks, the tempo in which she talks. It’s great to have similarities (like being a mom or another small business owner) but it’s crucial to look at whether you can envision being on the phone with her for 9-20 hours in the next 3-6 months!
Bottom line: If her laugh is annoying and you can’t get past it, go with another coach. Like I said, this money better be worth it so make sure you have full confidence in your decision.
#7: Does she get you and your unique needs?
You’re a person with individual needs. You have a life different from everybody else. Your dreams are unique and not at all cookie cutter. It’s important to find a coach who gets your needs and is able to tailor her approach to your circumstances. What you don’t want is somebody who doesn’t hear you;forces tactics and strategies down your throat while you sit quietly and “take it.” A good coach will know how to listen to you and give you exactly what you need so you can arrive at the answer yourself.
Bottom line: Listen to your gut. If you feel like you’re really being heard and seen, it might be the sign of a lovely coaching relationship.
#8: Has she hired her own coach to work through her own stuff?
We all have baggage. We carry it around with us and pretend like it doesn’t exist but it’s actually difficult to sever ties with that baggage without exposing light to it and sorting it out. I’m a firm believer that as an entrepreneur and more importantly, as a person, it’s necessary for everyone to have a guiding light. Sometimes we need that individual, professional attention that comes from a coach.It doesn’t make somebody weak if they have a coach. In fact, in my mind, it makes them more courageous, more willing and able to empathize with your need to receive great coaching.
Bottom line: There’s no better testament to the strength of your work than having experienced it from the client’s side.
#9: Who does she work with and how many clients will she take?
This is about asking your coach how adept they are at their job. How many clients she has and how many clients she’s able to take on shows you how in-demand or overstretched she is. How much time will she be able to spend with you to communicate between calls or when you might need her. It’s a question to ask if you foresee that you’ll need some extra assistance.
Bottom line: You wouldn’t want to wait two weeks for the dentist if you have a cavity so you’ll want to know her availability to answer those burning, yearning questions between sessions.
#10: What about confidentiality?
A part of me cringes is when I see “coaches” talking about clients with identifiers in public. As a Social Worker and a trained coach, that’s just a HUGE no-no. While some clients might feel that the topics that are being discussed are neither personal nor all that incriminating, for some clients, even the public mention that they have a coach is taboo and they don’t want to have that label. I err on the side of absolute confidentiality. If a client decides that she wants to disclose that she’s working with me or wants to give a testimonial, I am happy that she’s willing to share that with the world; however, it’s not my place to ask that of a client or to mention that she is part of my client list. I have to respect whatever the client wants and follow suit.
Bottom line: Just because coaches aren’t therapists, doesn’t mean your session isn’t therapeutic or extremely personal.
#11: Does she listen more than she talks? Does she ask thoughtful questions, not strategic questions?
There’s a difference between coaching and consulting. This point isn’t to say whether one is good or bad. They’ve got their own merits and should be used in appropriate settings. However, I’m using this as an example for how a label can be confusing. There are many “coaches” who go by that term who are actually consultants. They provide strategic guidance, assist with planning, look at something that’s ineffective to modify and improve it. The consultant is the expert in this scenario and the things that are suggested ultimately get changed or implemented. The consultant who is effective has the client’s needs and bottom line in mind.
A coach is equally invested in the client’s results. However, HOW a client goes about changing isn’t for the coach to decide. During a coaching session, a coach will ask questions that will elicit answers and help the client to find the solutions. Often, when clients hire coaches, they’ll discover that they’re unable to take action on something because of a previously unresolved emotional conflict or something that just got buried along the way. By noticing it, clearing it up and resolving the emotional clutter, a client finds the emotional capacity to create change in her own life without being told what to do next.
Bottom line: You want to feel like your coach is catering to your needs in your session. If you feel like it’s scripted, it probably is.
#12: Try out some other coaches!
I always suggest to my clients and discovery-session folks to try some other coaches/ discovery sessions before hiring me. First, it’s beneficial to me because we both know that the client chose to work with me for whatever reason. Second, even though you might have a connection with somebody, you never know what the impact another coach could have on you just from their ability to elicit motivation to act. Try them out and try real topics of things that you’re looking to work through.
Bottom line: It’s always advised to get a few estimates before selecting a contractor for home renovations. Think this way when selecting a coach.