Coaching is without doubt a growth industry, the good, the bad and professionally ugly inhabit this new age market, from life coaches, spiritual coaches, executive coaches, business coaches and even coach coaches, probably even a few cockroaches……..
A report by the market research firm IBISWorld at the end of 2014 said coaching is a $1 billion industry in the U.S. alone and employs more than 17,300.
With so many providers and a growth market it’s hit and miss for the potential client, get the wrong coach and you will waste money and hours and perhaps become disillusioned, get it right and you will be empowered and make real lasting changes in your life, career, relationships, finances and/or business – whatever is most important to YOU. Those of you that have read any of my previous posts – my view is that a customer or client is happy enough when: they would use your services again AND they would recommend others to so the same. Cutting through the crap – that’s the essence of a good coach – to help you get lasting results…….that’s the coaching good stuff!!
So I wanted to take some time and share my personal coaching philosophy and help give some clarity to empower those considering coaching to make informed choices.
Firstly What Coaching is Not:
Coaching is not therapy. There is no comfy couch, metronome, crystals or soft lights, it does not heavily focus on your past, healing deep emotional wounds, or resolving clinical symptoms, such as those of anxiety or depression. I have to assume that the client is capable, creative and able to work with me to develop a plan based on their values and goals. Limiting beliefs can be challenged and sometimes the client may wish invoke a change, that change will always come from them, if so I will provide the tools to help.
Coaching is not consulting. A consultant is hired to provide and present answers, I as the coach am not in a role to know all the answers and solve all of the client’s problems. I will frequently challenge my clients to analyze, understand and then take action toward their goals, but typically I do not tell the client what to do.
Coaching is not friendship. Coaching is a relationship based upon mutual trust and open honest and considerate communication. While the give and take of any relationship is vital to all of us, coaching differs in that the focus is all on the client and what will give them maximum benefit.
Coaching is not cheerleading. Anyone can offer basic support and encouragement, a quick “RA RA” or metaphorical pat on the back, short term and limited effectiveness. As a coach my definition of success is lasting change, in getting there i also teach specific skills and tools to help clients change their behavior or situation.
I have received some off the wall requests for coaching, recently a long term acquaintance of mine who runs mid-size tech company asked if I could coach their R&D Director, “what’s the problem Bill?” I asked. “He doesn’t understand modern Neural Network Technology” – errrr……”well neither do I”…..I can’t make bad Engineers good, or bad Doctors good – all I can help to do is find out if their beliefs and behaviors are a significant part of their “problem”. Coaching is fundamentally about human behaviors.
Coaching like life, is a JOURNEY, it’s about working together and establishing the starting point, defining the destination and then taking planned conscious steps to reach that point. I have a scene from Alice in Wonderland that sums this up perfectly…..it something along of lines of Alice asking the Cheshire Cat which way she should go, “Where are you going” says the cat, Alice replies ‘ I don’t know”……”Then it doesn’t matter which way you go” the grinning cat’s dry and succinct reply.
Coaching is also a useful way of developing people’s skills and abilities, and of facilitating lasting change and boosting performance. It can also help deal with issues and challenges before they become major problems. Coaching can provide an external, experienced and different viewpoint and facilitate critical thinking – asking WTF? has real value here. Whether its personal, business or executive coaching – it’s all about getting direction and momentum – getting inspired movement towards a goal. I truly believe most people have an idea what they should do, the reasons most don’t do it is fear, limiting beliefs, lack of self-confidence, lack of support and ultimately their own lack of commitment – coaching can and does change that daily. Think of it as Red Bull for your confidence…..
A normal coaching session will typically take place as a conversation (in person or commonly remotely these days) between the client and me……… I focus on helping the client discover answers for themselves. You know the vast majority of people are much more likely to engage and enact solutions that they have come up with them themselves, rather than those that are forced upon them. We will agree outcomes, and action points together and the client will be held accountable to follow through. A typical personal coaching session will last around 45 minutes to an hour, business coaching up to 2 to 3 hours and Executive Coaching up to a full day.
So Does Coaching Work?
I really truly think so; I have seen it work from both sides of the equation. There is a lot of credible research online, from HBR to Forbes – if you really are interested then I strongly recommend you take a look.
A 2014 Global Coaching Client Study conducted on behalf of the International Coach Federation found that of those individuals who had received coaching
80% saw improved self-confidence
73% saw improved relationships
72% saw improved communication skills
70% saw improved work performance
61% saw improved business management
57% saw improved time management
51% saw improved team performance
And of those surveyed, 99% indicated that there were “somewhat or fully satisfied with their coaching experience” and 96% said they would do it again.
So think about it, at any one time, the lives of about 10% of the population are being negatively impacted by mental illness and perhaps issues from their past which need to be resolved to allow them to move forward. They are not currently coachable……and a truly reputable coach wouldn’t even try.
That leaves the rest of the population (90%) for whom psychotherapy is not required, who could benefit from the holistic, behavior based approach of coaching which supports them to create more rewarding, fulfilling lives, to find, define and achieve their dreams and goals.
Just about anyone and everyone can really benefit from having a life coach, but the results boil down to two things –
- The Coach you pick….
- Your commitment to the process…..
I always ask my clients this question to illustrate this commitment point from the get-go, “have you ever attempted to change the behavior of a functioning adult that had absolutely no interest or commitment in changing?” Kicker huh? “Yes” is always the answer. I say, how much luck have you had on that process? Have you ever attempted to change the behavior of a husband, wife, partner, colleague, subordinate or friend who had no interest in changing at all? How’d that work out for you? Just fanbloodytastic I am sure 🙂
The Essential Steps to Choosing a Coach
Ready to take things to the next level? Assuming you are motivated and committed the single, most important factor for the value you get from the journey is who you enlist to coach you. Do your research prior to making the partnership official. In fact, I suggest following the advice below to help determine the right fit.
Identify the Purpose – Coaching must be approached with a specific goal in mind. Do you want to have an impartial sounding board? Want to get a better handle on counterbalancing work and home life? Or do you want to position yourself to make more money? Before you begin your search for a coach, know exactly what it is you want their help with. Some are more general coaches while others focus on certain areas of a person’s life, business, finance or relationship for example.
Get Committed – In order for coaching to work, the client must be motivated to make adjustments to their life and have a real desire to learn. Coaching isn’t about hand holding or just pseudo-analyzing your psyche objectively. The coach will be offering up constructive criticism and expect you to be receptive to change without taking offense. I don’t sugar coat things but I do provide honest feedback and I am mindful of your preferences.
Ask About Their Feedback Style – Because we all respond to feedback differently depending on how it’s delivered, the life coach’s critiquing and feedback style and approach is a critical factor.
Look for Certifications, but also Trust Experience – Formal certification from the International Coach Federation and psychological training are valuable tools, but they aren’t the be-all and end-all of life coaching. What’s perhaps more important is your coach’s experience level and track record. It’s best to look for someone with upwards of 20+ years of specialized experience and education.
Discuss How Success is to be Measured – Measurements of success can also vary from coach to coach. Discuss how progress is going to be tracked and how the success of the service is measured. Any professional coach that is ambiguous or has a difficult time answering the question may not be the best option for those that are looking for tangible results. Remember goals, whatever the context, should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound).
Take advantage of the free consultation – A study from Harvard Business Review revealed that executive coaches felt the chemistry between the client and coach was one of the key success factors. Being able to trust and confide in a coach is a must. Many good coaches can ease clients into the process and get them to open up, but the more comfortable you feel with someone right off the bat the more productive the relationship is likely to be. The only way to get an accurate gauge of this is by interviewing professionals.
Six Key Questions To Determine Your Best Coach Fit
- What areas am I seeking coaching support in?
For example, you may find yourself in a business situation, (an acquisition perhaps), where you are experiencing challenges in the leadership of new associates. There are an abundance of ‘life coaches’ and equally as many former executives, neither of whom are necessarily appropriate for business or organizational leadership coaching. Think carefully about what your needs are, and be clear on the areas you feel that you need support in.
- Does my coach have relevant professional experience?
Identify a coach who has had enough experience that you feel that the person will add value. Make a choice not only on the breadth of experience they have -measured by the number of years of experience- but more importantly the depth of relevant experience. The number of years of coaching experience while on the surface is helpful, is not the only thing you should be focused on.
- What results have they achieved?
Choose a coach who can answer questions about and evidence the results that they have helped their clients achieve. Also, present an area where you feel challenged and ask your coach how he or she would approach it. Coaching should take place to some extent right there and then, during your initial “chemistry meeting”. Is the coach presenting a credible and convincing approach to your challenge, and is your intuition telling you that it would work? If so, you’re probably talking with the right person. If not, move on and look for another coach– don’t feel compelled to continue!
- Are they interested in my business sector?
It sounds obvious, but make sure the potential coach has (at the very least) a basic understanding of your industry. If they don’t, assess their genuine level of interest in learning about your world of work, and their ability to learn and understand it quickly. A good coach will close their knowledge-gap quickly through research and good lines of questioning.
- Am I clear on what the contract with my coach will cover?
Ensure there is a written contract, signed by you and the coach before commencing the program. As a minimum, this should include:
- Timelines and deliverables that work for you. Most contracts are for 6-9 sessions of 1.5-2 hours each. Ideally, these are held on a monthly basis.
- A confidentiality clause or a non-disclosure agreement to protect your sensitive information.
- Reviews on progress against objectives. There should also be a review of coach performance in supporting you goal achievement.
- Do we have chemistry?
Not to thrash a dead horse on this – but this is essentially the most important question from you that requires a resounding affirmative if you are going to go ahead. This is often referred to as the “Chemistry Session,” a term used extensively in the coaching industry. This is the first one-to-one meeting that you’ll have with your potential coach. This is your opportunity to measure the fit between your needs and your coach’s approach. If your coach has answered your questions satisfactorily up to this point, then you need to decide if you feel comfortable with this coach. Is their style compatible with yours?
Be careful here, compatible means compatible, not necessarily the same! In fact, if you feel that you share too many characteristics, then the partnership may be too comfortable and lack the challenge that you may need to make progress. Most importantly, you need to feel comfortable enough with your coach to be able to arrive at a position of trust, otherwise you won’t be able to open up and you won’t get the most out of the experience. Without trust being established, the experience is likely to be of limited value to you. As we all know, trust is always earned, not given.
It is my job to facilitate the relationship with you to reach a point where we can trust each other completely during the coaching program. Once established the coaching experience will become a true partnership that can continue beyond the completion of the coaching program. The result? A phenomenally rewarding partnership for you and I.
I hope this post helps in your quest and that you found the information useful, my client charter is outlined below……
As your coach I will:
– focus solely on you and your situation, your goals and desired outcomes and to keep the contents of our discussions entirely confidential.
– to listen and question with genuine curiosity, to provide open and honest feedback and to provide support and challenge in ways that will facilitate the achievement of your goals. In addition to listening and questioning, this may include brainstorming, providing tools and other inputs, or seeking, collating and providing input from others.
– to encourage you to rise to challenges, generate creative solutions for overcoming hurdles and to move to action.
– to review progress with you at regular intervals and to make adjustments as appropriate.
In return, I will expect you:
– to be committed to the coaching process, which means contributing to our discussions in an open and honest manner and keeping to any agreements for action that you make during our meetings.
– to be open to trying out new ideas, to having your ideas and assumptions tested and your thinking challenged. Also to engage in what I hope will be an enjoyable and rewarding process.
– to let me know if something is not working for you or if you have any concerns, so that I can address them: the strength of coaching depends on the trust and openness that exists between us
That’s all I have – Happy Birthday America 🙂