Monday, January 15, 2007

How to find a good coach

Both life coaching and work-based coaching are growing fields. More and more people are turning to coaches and, unsurprisingly, more and more people are turning into coaches to make money out of this trend.
There are some bad coaches out there. But there are also some good ones - like me, of course.

No, but seriously, this isn't a hard sell. I thought I'd list some of the questions you should ask yourself if you are looking for a coach to help you, whatever your issues, and wherever you are in the world:

  • Do you feel comfortable with the person? You can't engage fully in coaching if you feel intimidated or nervous around your coach. You should feel relaxed enough to talk about your vulnerabilities, perhaps mistakes you have made, and difficult decisions you need to make.
  • Are you confident in his or her abilities and skill level? Ask them to tell you briefly about other people they have coached in similar circumstances. Get an idea of their qualifications (and then go look those qualifications up - there are all sorts of diplomas and certificates in coaching that practically anyone can get by a short correspondence course!)
  • Do you trust that this person has your best interests at heart? An unscrupulous coach may try to string the coaching process out to make more money from you. A good coach should try to empower you and help you become self-sufficient as quickly as possible.
  • Do you feel both challenged and supported by this person? A coach is not there merely to offer sympathy. They might occasionally need to ask you tough questions that make you think about your motivations and issues. But, at the same time, they should push you only so far as you want to be pushed. You must ultimately drive the pace of coaching rather than your coach.
Even as little as five years ago, coaching was seen more as a luxury afforded only by senior managers. Increasingly, people across the board are seeking professional coaching for all manner of issues. Make sure you find a coach who is just right for you.