Thursday, May 01, 2014

Business and Life Coaching: What To Look For When You Choose A Coach

It's important for coaches to keep an eye on what's happening in the marketplace and how coaching is perceived as well as what's important for those seeking to work with a coach.

"My business has been going for ten years but I feel like for the past few years I just don't have any passion for it and don't really know what to do about it."

That's part of the story of a recent business owner who called me about coaching.

Did he want to sell the business and do something else, I asked

"I don't even know what I want to do..." was the reply.

That will be  the part of what we work on together.

This is such a common issue that doesn't get much airing in stories in the media. Many business owners can be doing as much business as they want and not suffer at all from a lack of business to do but while the business may be ticking along quite well, and yet still have more capacity to do better, the will and drive may not be there. The business owner can feel great frustration and stuck  in a place they would prefer not to be.

Similar feelings of frustration may be the lot of managers who are in paid employment and getting quite a good salary  but feeling unmotivated, unexcited about life and work and frustrated but not sure why or what to do about it.

Who looks for a coach to work with to improve business issues?

The reasons people seek out coaching are varied. The type of coaching that they will find most beneficial will not be wrapped up on a fixed program of 'one-size-fits-all' packaged programs that clients conform to, whether they are relevant or not. Finding the right coach for the right person at the right time in their life is a tricky business.

A recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald highlighted the problems that some have found in their experience with different coaches.  A common complaint was that the coaching pushed them through exercises that didn't relate to their problem areas and didn't adequately address those areas they did have a need to work on.

Problems were identified with pre-programmed recorded 'webinars' that apparently people are paying between $7,000 and $20,000 for and they are just automated and are not personalised to the client's needs.

People Don't Come In One Size

Pushing people through a 'sausage factory' system is not coaching. It is a system for turning  people into commodities and selling snake oil dressed up as something it isn't, to people who need something it can't do.

Another business woman complained that in her coaching experience she had paid $100,000 over three years to learn that her coaching was not tailored to her needs.

Which brings me to the reason I thought this was worth writing about.

Coaches - be they business coaches,  or life coaches all bring a different product to market. If they are part of a franchise, they bring a system that is sold to people who may or may not have any personal skills in coaching, who can follow the proprietary system.  This may or may not be consistent with what you need but it is the System they use and that's what you can expect to get.  Some of these plans lock you in for a set amount for the full year - even if you pull out because you find it of no value.

That's a red flag right there.

Common Thoughts On Selecting a Coach 

Some will tell you that to find a coach to work with you should make sure they have this and that academic qualification  and other such criteria covered to base your decision on. Now I don't know about you, but I know many academics. Their academic achievements don't always reflect a broader range of personal skills and business experience that coaching can benefit from.

Often in coaching engagements there are needs for not only an academic approach - but also a intuitive capacity to identify blocks and beliefs issues that may be constraining the client, which allows the client to access perspectives that were new and useful in moving past the limitations to open up new possibilities - and close down non productive thinking patterns. At other times practical knowledge and problem-solving skills are required to be of value to the client.

When I read about the business woman paying $100,000 over three years only to come to the conclusion that the coach was not tailoring the coaching to her, my first response was a bit of amusement really.  That is a fantastic learning that she made, but it also illuminates the value of a good coaching arrangement.

Measuring What Matters When Choosing a Coach 

With a tailored approach, $100,000 over three years is like paying for a junior member of staff for that time, but with the right coach, the growth in sales and value of the business could be several multiples or more of the expense, not counting the value in personal growth of the business owner.

The wrong coaching program, the one with no tailoring your coaching to your specific needs, has no capacity to deliver the results you want so is of no value no matter what the cost. It fails the fundamental basis of coaching which is to help you move from your current circumstance to one that you prefer. To do that you and your coach need to know where that is!

Perhaps John Ruskin said it best:

"There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person's lawful prey. It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that is all. 

When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. 

The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot  - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you that you will have enough to pay for something far better." 

What Does a Good Coaching Arrangement Look Like?

A good coaching arrangement would be empowering that business woman over this time to be able to distinguish good methods for making decisions and developing her skills in reasoning and applying those skills to her immediate environment.  That is, how to assess upfront what is a good arrangement. how to verify that your strategy is effective and how to avoid situations where finding the real value of something doesn't happen three years after you have been doing it, but instead lets you develop a strong and ongoing method for checking your results and measuring these against a benchmark that is of value to you personally. It should meet your criterion in both objective and subjective manner and be a fit for your values and the outcomes that you achieve.

Your coaching should be aiding your personal evolution and developing your personal abilities to think and operate more effectively in your own life.

For the client who called me this who is experiencing frustration a lack of purpose, his experience with attending motivational seminars and previous coaching that left him feeling like he was there to help the coach work out their own personal issues - it can be tough to find that right match of a coach that has the specific strengths that one needs,  Personally, I think a values match is good as a start point and  yet that alone is not enough.

Your Worldview As It Applies In Coaching

Your coach also needs to have the ability to meet you in your map of the world and be able to see how it looks through your eyes - in order to understand the best way to tailor your coaching to make progress using a language that you understand and makes sense, informed by your experience and internal drivers.

You can't get an automated 'webinar'  or sausage factory approach, that will ever, ever replace the right human being at the right moment in time, with the right skills to give you a hand to find some new ways to the better place you want to be.

We who choose to work coaching others do well to keep that in mind and be willing to go to the effort of providing responsive coaching methods and flexible pricing options that don't seek to trick clients into buying something that doesn't and can't fit their needs.


Online coaching and how to choose a coach that's right for you
Prepare your business now to sell it later for the best price 
You business plan needs a compelling vision to drive it
Manage your effectiveness as a manager with coaching 
New habits are the foundation to motivation and successful change 

Lindy Asimus
0403 365 855
Lindy Asimus Business Coaching

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Lindy Asimus
 Lindy Asimus Business Coaching
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