Coaching is an investment. You invest your time, your energy and often a significant amount of money into coaching. There is a huge choice out there too. How do you pick the right coach for you? How do you know that you are doing the right thing?

This is the first in a series of blogs I will be doing on how to choose your coach. In this article I will focus on one to one coaching. By that I mean the coach you will either meet in person or online with no other people present. I will look at group coaching programs in a later post. I could write a list of 20 or even more questions to ask, but to start with here are my 5 questions you should ask your coach before signing on the dotted line.

  1. What are their qualifications and training? I’ll be clear on this: coaching is an unregulated industry, at the moment. This means that anyone can rock up and declare themselves a coach. Think about that.Now, I am not saying that all non qualified coaches are bad. Far from it. But having some sort of recognised experience, training and qualifications can give you an indication of a coach’s dedication to the profession. Ask about membership of recognised professional bodies, such as the ICF or Association for Coaching. There are some coaches who say they prefer the University of Life, or that coaching qualifications are pointless. At the risk of being called the coaching police again, I would disagree.I repeat that there are unqualified coaches out there who are fab – I have even been coached by some. But there are very very many people on the other side of the coin.
  2. What did they do before? Most coaches have a previous career and most will be happy to tell you about it. Asking questions will give you a great insight into how they decided to become a coach. If you ask me that question I will run you through my CV but will also refer to issues and experiences which have made me focus on women in or looking towards the workplace and women business owners. I will talk about work life balance, imposter syndrome, being a working mum, gaining confidence in the workplace, interpersonal skills, leaving the rat race. All issues that I have had experience of either directly or via colleagues.
  3. How much do they charge?  This might sound obvious but getting prices out of a coach is sometimes like getting blood from a stone. Well, maybe a little bit easier. Many coaches choose not to put prices on their website, or leave the money talk until the last minute during your discovery call. My prices are on my website – have a look at the FAQs and on the individual coaching packages. And I don’t see money as a taboo issue, I talk about prices, possible discounts, ways of paying as soon as you ask, be that by email or on the phone. I believe you need to be able to find out what financial investment is expected of you early on in the process.
  4. What will you get out of the coaching? By this I mean results. Of course this partly depends on you as the client. What do you want from the coaching? And how much do you want it? If I were to answer the question I would use three words: confidence, clarity and focus. That is what I expect my clients to achieve by being coached by me. Even in my small business coaching I give very little business advice. I provide the clients the tools to make decisions, sort through the buzz of ideas rushing round their heads and above all get the confidence to move forward. Other coaches focus on other things: health, nutrition, sales and marketing. I remain within the bounds of mindset. Ask to see testimonials – many coaches will have these on their websites so read them.
  5. What is their coaching style? What methods do they use? Trained coaches will be able to talk about their methods in non-coaching language so that you know what to expect. They will be honest about the approach they take. Some coaches are more directive, others let the client take the lead. Some stick to coaching models and others are more flexible. Some coaches decide on the programme, others tailor their one on one experience to the client.

Finally, coaching is a relationship. When you are coached individually, and by that I mean face to face or over the phone or via Skype, you will build a relationship of trust, honesty and open communication. It is vital that you and your coach get on. I am not suggesting you will become BFFs- it’s not that kind of relationship. But not getting on will stop the flow of the conversation and will not benefit either of you. We all have our different styles and different personalities. I would urge you to book an introductory chat with your future coach to see if you both fit. Use that call to ask each other all the questions you want.

I hope this has helped you take the first steps to hiring the right coach for you.

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