So you have heard great things about how other business leaders are getting better results in a shorter period of time by engaging a business coach, and you have decided to take the plunge and see what it can do for your business, but how do you find the right business coach? One who understands you and your struggles, has been there, done that and understands the pain. One who works at the right pace, adapts to your needs and doesn’t judge?
Doug White, editor of The Creative Group, a career and management insights website, suggests looking for someone “authentic, empathetic, creative and honest. You need someone who’s caring and invested in your professional growth, but also someone who will speak truth to you. Sometimes, you need some constructive criticism or a reality check, while other times, you need a high five or pat on the back.”
Remember, a coach is not a consultant, who will provide you with all the answers – to use the fish analogy; your coach will not give you a fish, but rather, will teach you how to fish. Thus, by asking the right questions he or she will help you to pinpoint the right solution for you. This is a problem-solving skill, which once learned, will be invaluable to you throughout both your professional and personal life.
Here are some things to think about when choosing a coach:
First of all be proactive in your search, don’t wait to get selected, go out and find the right individual. Talk to people in your network who have been coached, ask about their experiences, (good and bad), and ask for recommendations. Arrange an initial exploratory meeting, (you should not expect to pay for this). Just because you are not paying, you should not treat it lightly – this is potentially a very important relationship, so treat it as an interview:
- Do some homework on the coach – look at their LinkedIn profile, who do you know in their network – call them and ask their opinion of the individual. If you have no common links, then ask the coach for references, (this can be done at the end of your meeting).
- Remember that a coach does not need to come from the your industry, but they do need to have had broad business experience.
- Be careful if selecting someone you already know – will they really be entirely objective and are they able to speak truth to you, even when it is uncomfortable for you to hear?
- During your initial meeting explain what you are hoping to take from a coaching relationship and find out about your potential coach:
- Their experience of successful problem solving. (NB Don’t dismiss coaches who have had failures during their career, this is extremely useful learning, from which you may be able to benefit).
- Their belief system – is it similar to your own?
- It is important that a coach holds you to account for your commitments; they should show strength without being a bully, be prepared to speak the truth, but in a constructive manner. Look for evidence of this.
It is essential that you are able to trust a coach and have a rapport – if you are in doubt about their integrity or your ability to work with them, they are not the right person for you – keep looking. Equally, the coach must feel comfortable working with you – at the end of your initial meeting either party can decide to take things no further, do not treat it as an affront if a potential coach does not wish to take things further, the fit must work for both parties.
Be wary of a coach who wants to tie you in for a long period of time. A coaching relationship is only good as long as it is delivering results, at any time either party should be able to walk away with a “no fault divorce”, no obligations, no blame and no hard feelings.
So go on, get out there and find yourself a coach who can save you time, money and heartache by working with you to determine the right roadmap to your success.
Learn about Executive Coaching