I’m often asked how to find the right executive coach and am reminded of a conversation I had with a guy named Jerry.
A few years ago, I played tennis with a guy named Jerry. I asked him how long he had been playing, and he said eight years. Before retirement, he was a shop teacher who was asked by the school principal to coach tennis. He said he was hesitant but eventually agreed to do so.
Imagine being coached to play tennis by a guy who had never hit a tennis ball in his life.
Yet, everyday people choose to work with executive coaches who have never been in their situation.
When looking for coaches, people see that someone has a certificate, and they think, “Hey, this guy (or gal) must know what they’re doing.”
Maybe they know what they’re doing, or perhaps they don’t.
Can you afford to waste time or money on someone who can’t help you rapidly get where you want to go?
Finding the Right Coach for You
If you’ve never worked with an executive coach and are interested in exploring what this might look like, where do you start?
Begin with your objectives. What would you like to achieve as a result of working with a coach? Think about the most significant challenges you are facing right now. How would your life be better if you overcome these challenges?
Think about what success in your career looks like from your vantage point now. Where are you now, and where would you like to be 90 days from now? A year from today? Then, work backward.
Are you in need of a particular skill that you’re currently lacking? Can a coach help you master this skill, or do you need to take a different route, like going back to school?
Have you received feedback about a particular behavior that might be holding you back? Is the input valid? If so, are you ready to address this issue? If you’re not prepared to face this challenge, now’s not the time to engage a coach.
Find a coach with real-life business experience. Your friend’s life coach might be great. However, your objectives may be very different than that of your friend. You need someone who has been where you want to go. That person should have proven processes and practices and a track record for getting results.
Seek out someone who isn’t afraid to challenge your thinking. Too many people are more concerned about finding a coach they feel comfortable working with. If you really want to experience growth, find someone who is willing to make you feel uncomfortable at times. You may not walk away from this coaching relationship with another friend, but that’s okay. You’ve got enough friends. What you need is someone willing to tell you the truth.
Be prepared to make an investment. If you’re about to spend your last dime on a coach, then now is not the time to hire a coach. Why? Because you’ll be tempted to hire the least expensive person, rather than an engaging the right coach for you.
If you’re looking to bring in a coach for one of your people, think twice about engaging someone because they’re you’re least expensive option.
Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. There is most certainly a difference between a coach who charges $50/hour (they are usually newbies, looking to build up their roster) and someone who charges significantly more.
Be realistic about the outcome. Coaches aren’t miracle workers. Improvement takes time and only happens to those willing to put in the effort. If you are fully committed to doing the work that is required for growth, I predict you’ll have much success working with a coach who is well suited for you.
If you are looking for a coach for your organization (or yourself), let’s talk to see if we’re the right fit for one another.