5 Things To Look At When Hiring A Coach

Throw a stone these days, and you'll hit a coach. Or at least, you'll hit someone calling themselves a coach. 

I understand the tendency -- for years before I was certified, I often felt like I already was a coach, what with all the advice I doled out to my friends and co-workers. But when I finally got my butt into a coaching certification program, I realized that coaching, like so many other things I didn't know about until I did, is a very specific skill. In fact, coaching is very different from talking through things with a friend. It's different from mentoring, it's different from therapy, and it's different from consulting. That doesn't mean that a coach can't do all of these things (although they should not be involved in therapy unless licensed to do so) but coaching is a very specific thing, that has its own set of goals, strategies, and outcomes. 

I'll be honest: it bugs me when people who are not trained and certified call themselves coaches. I was once talking with a woman who had recently moved to Germany, and was in a state of career transition. She had decided she was going to start a business as a coach. I asked her if she had any certifications or training as a coach, and she said she did not. I asked her if she had any specific skill or knowledge about a particular topic that she impart upon her clients -- she did not.

Unfortunately, there's no law of the land that prohibits this woman from calling herself a coach and charging clients for what is essentially the equivalent of calling one of those psychic hotlines they used to advertise on late night t.v. 

Do I think she's attempting to defraud people with malicious intent? Of course not. I think her intentions are good -- she loves to help people and wants to make money doing something she loves. Nothing wrong with that. But, like many of us, she suffers from the hubris of under-enlightenment, and she doesn't understand she can do more harm than good by coaching clients when she doesn't have the skills. 

I want to protect you from these well-intentioned, but misguided coaches. Here's 5 things you want to make sure of before you hire your first coach. 

5 THINGS TO LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING A COACH

CERTIFICATION

Your first question should be: Are you certified? And your next question should be, by what school or organization? Then, you should hop on over to the International Coach Federation's website and make sure the school is listed there. Many colleges now offer degrees in coaching, and other independent schools offer quality certifications as well. However, there are still a lot of certification courses out there that offer lots of hours of training that do not count toward an ICF certification. This could mean that those coaches have not been taught in core competencies and ethical values that are an important part of coaching. Only work with coaches who have accomplished these core competencies required by the ICF. 

RAPPORT

I have a friend who was working with a coach through an online group program. This friend is a busy mom to 4 kids, wife, and business owner. The coach wanted her to sit in on a 3-hour long training, and when she replied she might not be able to make it because of her kid commitments, he called her pathetic. 

The words I would like to type are not appropriate for this venue, but let me be clear: this is not coaching. That man is not a coach. That man is a personality and what he's serving up is shtick. Anyone can serve up a nice helping of shtick and gain Facebook followers, but I promise you my friend is gaining heavenly followers for all the rock-star success she dishes out as a mom, business owner and wife. That coach is the pathetic one if he thinks for one minute that his 3-hour course trumps the important work she's doing. 

But bottom line? Your coach should make you feel empowered, uplifted, and capable -- not defeated, deflected, or down. 

REASONABLE PRICING

And by reasonable I DON'T mean cheap. The old adage is true -- you get what you pay for. A coach who is charging extremely low prices needs to hire herself a coach to work on her self-worth. Especially if you're hoping to increase your own success -- don't you want a coach who knows her own worth and is unafraid to get it? 

At the same time, exorbitant programs and coaching fees can decimate your personal economy without delivering much bang for those precious bucks. I've fallen victim to some of these programs, and lived to regret it. That's not to say there aren't excellent coaching programs and packages out there that will run into the thousands of dollars. All I'm saying is that if you're going to participate in one of them, be sure that it's going to deliver the goods -- and that you, in turn, are ready to do your part to act on what you learn. 

Overall, you can expect to pay about $200 - $500 an hour for a very good, capable coach. 

LONG TERM PACKAGES

It's true that occasionally, one conversation can make a difference in a client, but the general rule is that transformation takes time. That's why it's important that your coach offers packages (ideally at a discounted rate) that have a minimum of a 3-month term. 

Listen, I know it'd be way easier to take a "Fix Me" pill, but that's just not how it works. Coaching is designed to foster positive change, so that clients can move closer toward the life of their dreams. Usually, this means deconstructing years of negative thought patterns, learning new behaviors, and cementing those behaviors into a successful new paradigm. Does that sound like it can be done in one 45-minute phone call? I don't care how many Tony Robbins videos you watch. Real transformation takes real time, real effort, and real investment. 

YOURSELF

Yes, you read that right. No matter how great your coach is, the buck stops with you as far as results. Your coach can only guide you -- you have to do the hard work of change. Usually, you're ready for coaching if you're seeking out a coach. At the very least, you realize something's up that you want to change. 

I have both experienced amazing transformation as a coaching client and seen clients transform over the course of our time together. Clients find strength they never knew they had, insight that provides the answers they were seeking, and the accountability they needed to make the changes they wanted to make. But each one of these success stories were personally invested in doing the work -- that means they were willing to invest time, energy, thought, money and emotion into their own metamorphosis.

If that sounds horrible to you, then you might not be ready for coaching. If it sounds terrifyingly exciting to you -- sort of like being on a roller coaster -- then you're ready to make the leap. 

If you're not sure, hop on a call with me and we'll figure out if coaching is right for you together. 

Finding the right coach doesn't have to be difficult, especially now that you're armed with this information. Now, you know what to look for and can dive into the coaching process with a clear head and a willing heart.