If you're thinking about hiring a coach but don't know where to start, then you're not alone. The coaching landscape is incredibly confusing and extremely competitive. I posted on Facebook this week to do a bit of research on how people choose coaches and it garnered nearly 40 comments, many of which had various different descriptions of what coaching even is. It also attracted several other coaches trying to sell their services!
One of the main issues is that coaching seems to be a bit of a buzz word at the moment. The problem with that is, when people realise that they can add credibility to their offering by adding a word like coach, it becomes misappropriated time and time again. When everyone’s a coach, no one is a coach. I imagine it won’t be long before McDonalds rename their servers food selection coaches.
So if you think you might benefit from the help of a coach, but you don't know where to start, let me help you to cut through some of the crap!
In the last couple of weeks alone I’ve come across life balance coaches, weight loss coaches, mindset coaches, success coaches, confidence coaches, business clarity coach, wealth creation coaches, a coach for the elite and the badass coaching crew to name but a few. When everyone's trying to stand out in a confusing industry, choosing a catchy name seems to be one of the ways to do it.
The main problem with the overall industry as it stands is that it is completely and utterly unregulated. There are absolutely no barriers whatsoever to anyone at all setting up as a coach right this second and charging whatever rates they like. The knock on effect of this is that in general people tend to associate value with cost, so the pricier the coach, the more likely we are to assume they are good and experienced. Take it from me, this is not always the case. I hate to tell you this but there are in fact a whole host of 'coaches' out there training other coaches to portray the kind of confidence and shady tactics that allow them to charge these premium rates. It's no wonder people end up confused and mistrustful. For me, this is a huge shame. Coaching changed my life forever and continues to do so. I became a coach so I could do the same for other people and I want to reach as many of those people as possible.
The biggest piece of overall advice I can give you is to steer well clear of any coach who tries to sell you their lifestyle not your dreams. Anyone who tells you about how much they earn in a month, what their coaching lifestyle has allowed them to do or floods you with details of their amazing jetset existence is trying to get you to part with your money by selling you something, at worst, fabricated or at best, heavily filtered. There's nothing wrong with finding your coach aspirational or a good role model but the two are very different and it's very easy to get swept away by this sort of thing.
Here are my top tips for choosing the coach for you:
Know your onions (coaches)
In it’s purest form, coaching is about improving your awareness of the things that are getting in your way or stopping you from getting what you want. To increase someone’s awareness of something is to vastly improve their chances of doing something about it. Both life coaches and executive coaches favour this approach.
The thinking behind this is that if you can find the answers within yourself, you’re not constantly trying to remember someone else’s instructions and you can get on with being brilliant! A good coach will also be able to hold you accountable, cheerlead for you, offer their experience when needed and create a structure for you to work within - if you want to know more about the benefits of coaching read my blog from last year here... www.rebeccamorley.co.uk/blog/therightsupport
Calling the difference between life coaching and executive coaching is a tough one without sounding snobby about life coaches, which I have been know to do (I'm an executive coach and business consultant) - anyone who's ever called me a life coach will have experienced this, sorry! Don't misunderstand me, there are lots of good life coaches out there but also lots of well meaning people who think they’re good at life and can therefore advise others.
Life coaching, in general, tends to be broader in range than executive coaching. Life coaching covers all areas of life from work to relationships, health, life goals whatever you feel you need to make your life better. There are also heaps of different styles from the spiritual and holistic to the kick up the ass get back on track, take no prisoners type. In my experience life coach accreditation (if the coach has chosen to do any at all) tends to be more light touch than executive coach accreditation.
Executive coaches tend to focus solely on helping you to be the best in a work or business environment. However, if things outside your work are affecting your ability to do a good job they will also work with you on those things. Make sense? Executive coaching training draws heavily on occupational and business psychology and can therefore be somewhat deeper in scope.
If you want to learn new skills or knowledge, the answers are unlikely to be within you already. It’s best to look for a coach who labels themselves in that specific area, they are likely to be able to train you in what you need to know. So, for example a weight loss coach will be able to support you with a specific plan around weight loss. A social media coach will help you with specific knowledge around social media and strategy… you get the picture. Depending on whether you really think you need to learn the skills they’re going to teach you, in the long run, you might be better off spending the money on hiring an expert.
Coaches are NOT therapists, and they should be willing to talk to you about the differences. IF you’re hiring a coach because you think it’s a more acceptable way of getting some therapy then think hard about what you really need.
Work out what your budget is
Think carefully about this as despite my point above, the best coaches really are able to charge premium rates because they get results. Think about what it would be worth to you to fix the issue or achieve your goals. If you think you’re standing in the way of growing your business, and you think that getting the right support could unlock significant growth, that might be worth a significant amount to you. On that basis you don’t want to be paying for a bargain bucket coach. Coaching is an investment, don’t think about the per session costs, think about where it's going to get you.
Talk to people you know and trust
The best coaches work on recommendations. My goal for my business has always been to be a name that’s whispered at dinner parties following the conversations about how so and so scored her dream job. If you find someone who's had a good experience with a coach they will generally wax lyrical about the life changing results they've achieved. It's worth remembering that the best coaches work on recommendation alone. In fact it's estimated that around 85% of a coach's income will come from within their network.
Research and interview
A good coach should have testimonials, be happy to put you in touch with previous clients, and be able to talk you through their experience. Ask how long they’ve been coaching for and understand what led them to want to be a coach. Find out if they have a coach themselves, all the good coaches do!
Chemistry and rapport are a huge part of the coaching relationship but remember that you’re not interviewing a new friend. This person has to have the credibility and gravitas to challenge you. They also have to be someone you feel you can open up to without fear of judgement, someone you trust.
Ask about qualifications, supervision and governing bodies. A good coach should be signed up to either EMCC, AOC or ICF – all of which have stringent entry criteria, a code of conduct and a directory so look it up. Many won’t be, and depending on what sort of coach you’re looking for this might be OK because these sort of organisations work predominantly with either executive coaches or qualified life coaches. You have to prove you have a certain level of experience and qualifications to become part of these organisations. If you’re looking for a specialist – weight loss coach, photography, public speaking etc, as per my point above about choosing a coach, then go with who your research tells you is the best in this area.
Sleep on it
When you decide to hire a coach it’s often because you’ve decided enough is enough, you need help. At this point you'll probably be pretty keen to get going. A good coach will have you exploring your dreams in the first session and probably start to build your confidence straight away. Don’t get carried away though, really think about whether you want to work with this person. Be very dubious of any coach who tries to get you to pay on the first call, or who starts to try and scare you with talk of being really in demand, these are sales tactics, nothing more.
Read the contract before you pay
This is sage advice with pretty much anything you sign up to. Make sure you know how to get out of something before you get in. It's easy to ignore these things when you're excited and about to start a new thing but the 'read the small print' cliche exists for a reason.
Phew! I think that's it for now. If you do need any advice at all, please do get in touch, I'm always willing to try and help as many people experience the life changing effects of coaching. I only work with clients that I know I can get results for so I'll always advise you the best sort of coaching for you. Drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org
If you've enjoyed reading and you'd like to find out more about how I could help you to create a career you love as much as your kids, book a free 30 minute call using the link below...