Five tips on how to choose the right coach for you

For many of us, having a coach is a new experience. I know it was for me. When I went coach shopping, I used a pot-luck approach to selecting a coach – that is I spoke to one person, who I liked so I signed up! Fortunately for me it turned out well and the coach was an important support in a time of major transition for me. 

However, there is a little more structure and intent that you can apply to the selection process to ensure you get the right coach for you. Having trained as a coach, and had my own coach, I can offer a few pointers on how to find the right coach for you.

Most coaches will offer a sample session or an introductory call. In addition to what you can pick up from their website (I always think a website is so telling), make this call work for you in finding the right coach for you. Make sure you speak to as many coaches as you need to feel you’ve made the right choice for you.

Is there a connection/rapport?

You know that feeling of being on the same wavelength as someone? That is a powerful feeling. The conversation flows and it’s easy to move forward together. That rapport also allows for brave conversations when you get stuck. It’s important you feel a connection with the coach as it forms the foundation of what will be possible in your relationship. I suggest you don’t overthink what this looks like and go with your instinct!

Does this coach understand your world?

Knowing your coach gets your world can help. Is the context of your goals for coaching work or home? Is it important that they understand your specific challenges like fear of public speaking or communication skills? I work with many IT people and it’s really important to them that I don’t get fazed by things like agile development, critical paths and database rollbacks. It’s never the topic of the coaching but it’s often important context for the goal they are working on.

Most coaches will let you know their niches – these are the folk they love to work with. I believe that coaches can really coach anyone – but I also know as a client the importance of the coaching knowing my world.

Do you understand the process of coaching with this coach?

Ask the coach how they work. Ask them to unpack what a coaching session looks like. Ask them any question that comes to mind – there are no dumb questions here. Whilst each coach will work slightly differently, there is a lot of common ground around how we work with assumptions, behaviours, values and beliefs. It’s empowering and comforting to know more about what you are signing up for.

Does the interview/sample session work for you?

Consider this a test drive. You’d drive a car before buying it. You’d have a good look at the cupboards in the house before making an offer. Approach coaching the same way. Present an area where you feel challenged and ask your coach how would he/she approach that. Coaching should take place to some extent right there and then, and it will give you a good feel for whether this relationship will work for you.

You know that feeling when someone ‘gets’ you? Having that feeling of being understood and being seen is powerful. And it’s from this place that we are able to make big changes in our lives. Choose the coach that will work with you to meet those all important goals. Good luck!

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