What comes to mind when you think of coaching?
Some people think athletics. Others think of Tony Robbins the life coach. The guy who challenges people to walk across hot coals in the name of facing their fears to achieve their goals.
Both are correct but there’s a little more to it.
Many people reach out to professional coaches for leadership guidance, help with a career change, or to help them process and organize their thinking. All worthy motivations especially since coaching has been shown to be an effective strategy to build skills, increase self-awareness, and improve performance (Journal of Positive Psychology, 2013). Coaching can be a worthwhile experience for people to grow, personally and professionally.
However, coaching is not for everyone. Coaching can fail.
If you’re thinking of hiring a coach, (for yourself or for one of your employees) be sure to consider the following.
Coaching is about change
Professional coaching is a one-on-one engagement with a trained individual who helps someone make a change today that will get them to the future they want. (Conversely, a coach will not spend time in their past. That territory is for therapists. )
The range of that context is broad. This could be defining a career, building confidence, thinking and acting strategically, getting organized, establishing a leadership vision, public speaking, developing a team, prioritizing self-care, or finding purpose and meaning in life and work.
If you want to work with a coach, then you’re open to examining your way of thinking and doing, even your motivations and beliefs, to change something about yourself to get the result you seek.
What coaches do
The coach is a neutral party who really listens. In fact, that's a lot of what coaches are trained to do, listen without judgement, without giving suggestions, or the proverbial "You know what you should do?" that we often get from friends, family and colleagues.
Coaches also ask questions, challenge perspective, notice patterns, and offer activities and techniques to help you think differently. By thinking differently, the door is opened to act differently. This enables and, more so, empowers you to make the changes you want to make.
A coach helps you start living your future self now.
This means, if you want to be a better decision-maker, have clear career direction, or stop questioning yourself and act with confidence, you have to start behaving that way now. The coach helps you figure out how to do that.
When to hire one
The time to hire a coach is when someone has a strong desire to change. The desire is so strong that they want to financially invest in it. That is how important the change is to their performance, fulfillment, or well-being in relation to work or life.
This means they are ready to dedicate consistent time to reflect on their own behavior and practice new ones. The regular sessions of meeting with a coach, the consistency, is what many clients say they benefit from most.
Before hiring a coach, these clients would only think about their career or work/life balance after a bad day (or week) at work. With a coach, they had the accountability and focus to spend quality time on their goals which yielded better results than tackling it on their own.
Coaching sessions vary. They can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 90 minutes a session, depending on the client's goals. Many coaches offer three, six, and nine month packages.
When your time comes to hire a coach, here are four tips:
Interview at least three credentialed coaches certified by the International Coach Federation. Ask friends and colleagues for referrals. The best way to find a great coach is to ask people who have direct experience with them.
Ask the coach to describe coaching, their process, and methods. Look for someone who can articulate coaching in a clear way. If they can’t explain coaching simply, they may not be a good coach.
Inquire about additional services. Some coaches offer assessments or free emails and text messages between sessions. The rates for coaching generally range from $100-$300/hour, for private (read, paid out of one's personal pocket) coaching. Coaches charge much more to organizations, given the expense of contracting, billing, etc. It may sound steep, but put a price on the change you want to make. How much is that worth? That is what you're paying for by hiring the coach.
Look for chemistry. The person you select is the person you trust and with whom you are excited and motivated to work.
When Not to Hire a Coach
Sometimes, a coach is called to help someone through emotional pain. Such as, from job loss, divorce, or an overall feeling of being stuck in life. This is common and coaches are very helpful in this space but if you find yourself coping in ways that are unhealthy (drinking or eating too much, abusing drugs, sleeping excessively, not sleeping at all, etc.) or there is something in your past that has not been addressed (trauma, unhealthy relationships, etc.) then coaching is likely not the right intervention.
Do not hire a coach when you are coping in unhealthy ways or need to heal from something in your past. A therapist or psychologist may be the right choice.
A requirement for coaching to be effective is the willingness to reflect and an openness to change. Some people are more reflective than others and some just want to talk but not take any action. This is a recipe for a waste of everyone's time.
Do not hire a coach if you are not not interested in examining your thoughts and emotions or trying new behaviors. You may benefit more from a mentor, someone to offer you advice based on their experience.
Coaches are a valuable resource for an organization and for life. They focus on today and assist you in achieving the future you want. The technique of coaching is specific and requires a specialized skill set, which means there is an expense attached to it. Being clear on what coaching is and the situations when coaching is the appropriate intervention is important to ensure that the intended results are achieved.
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Until next time!
Amy Drader is a management consultant and credentialed coach with over 20 years’ experience in HR and operations. She knows first-hand the joys and challenges of leading people and is dedicated to helping managers and teams advance their performance. She is the owner of Growth Partners Consulting, a boutique leadership and team development consulting firm that provides customized training and coaching.
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