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How to Choose a Coach

Choosing anything can be difficult. Search online. Read the reviews. 4.8 stars out of 20,000 reviews, but that one 1-star review really makes me reconsider this product.

Choosing something is not easy and when the investment of time and money doesn’t have a return policy, it makes things even more complicated. Like seeing your doctor. “First visit? Establishing care? Just seeing if this is the right physician for you? Great, we’ll bill your insurance.”

The following process will help you think through how to pick a coach who is right for you. Of course this is a resource so absolutely add more criteria as you see fit. And to start…

What do you want from a coach?

If your answer has more to do with industry-specific advice then seek out that kind of service. It may be that you’re looking for a consultant and if you decide that’s the case, select a consultant who has a package including follow-ups and even coaching if they provide it. A stereotypical consultant might review your operation, give you a to-do list, and wish you the best. If that’s what you need, great. If you’d like a longer-term commitment, a coach can help with that.

What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?

A coach is someone who can help you manage both your strengths and weaknesses. Your strengths are great and might overshadow other options; if you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Your weaknesses may just need a little support or another person to take care of those responsibilities. Your coach will help you make the decisions about how to ensure your strengths the most productive and your weaknesses are least problematic.

How do you manage feedback of all types?

If you don’t have time for discussion and want to get to the point, your coach might be what you imagine from nearly every sports movie ever. Flailing, barking, projectile sweating. If you’re more inclined to want to think through feedback and want accountability without the abuse, your coach will be calm, direct, tactful, and truly caring about your success in the moment and in the long run.

What do you expect to get for your investment?

It could be forgiven if anyone in business wants a high return on their investment and makes a very low investment at that. In this case, a person might want to get the least expensive coach and expect a high-level return. Similarly, a coach might want to engage their client just as much as needed to retain their client. Seek a coach who is open to communicating outside of your scheduled calls. Email and/or texts should be an option. Also, a coach who accepts calls outside of scheduled times might be a larger investment, but to get the support you need, the investment will be worth it. Also, do you get your notes from the meetings? When you and your coach agree on your actions from one call to the next, who is tracking those? Your coach should not be giving directives and infrequently giving advice, but if they do, do they provide the resources?

Take your coach for a test drive.

When you think you’ve found a coach who’s a good fit for you, talk with them. Some coaches may offer 15-30 minute meetings which might be consults and can essentially be the interview. Even if a coach doesn’t offer a free conversation, you can still choose to pay their rate to see if they’re a good fit. If you go this route, ensure that whatever agreement you enter into does not lock you in to more service or expense than you’re expecting.

The bottom line is… don’t not get a coach because the process is confusing.

In your business, you might invest in an ad campaign, reorganization, or process. If you see how that investment works out, you might keep it and invest more, change direction, or abandon that investment entirely. There’s no reason hiring your coach should be any different. If your coach doesn’t work out because of fit, accountability, or you realize you needed a consultant or mentor, then that coaching relationship will be concluded and you can move forward with that knowledge. But if it works, you can quickly grow your leadership capacity and move your organization forward to meet or exceed your goals, usually ahead of your timeline.

If you don’t hire a coach, you know for certain that everything you’re doing now will remain the same until there’s an awakening or a crisis. Why wait for either of those? You’re a decision-maker. You’ve got influence. Hire a coach who is a good fit for you. Take action with a sense of direction and passion rather than waiting for the emergency to show the way.

Cover art: Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

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