8 questions to ask yourself before getting a coach

July 9, 2020

What is coaching?

Coaching gives you the opportunity to explore what's going on for you right now and what you want to be different. It's all about teamwork - it's a conversation between you and your coach to help you discover and deal with anything that stands in your way (including yourself). It helps you plan for your version of success.

Ok, sounds good.

So you've heard about coaching and think you'd like to give it a try. Great idea. Here's a few questions to ask yourself to give you the best chance of getting what you want out of the relationship.

To help you decide if coaching is for you

1. Do I want change?

This might seem like a silly question if you're already considering coaching, but bear with me. Every behaviour or decision has a pay off, especially the ones that you've stuck with long term. Otherwise, you wouldn't be here now. Staying in the job you hate might mean you don't have to face your fear of interviewing or that you get sympathy and attention when you're having a moan at Friday night drinks with friends. You've come this far without making the changes that you're looking for - are you sure you want change?

2. Is the change that I want within my control?

Coaching focuses on what you can control or influence. If you think the change you want might be out of your control, is there a way for you to re-frame it? Instead of coming to coaching to change your boss so she doesn't stress you out, could you focus on changing your response to her behaviour?

3. Will I do the work?

Change can be hard. A coach gives you a supportive and safe environment to experiment and learn - only you can actually do the work. It might take time. It might be challenging. It might mean that you have to make some sacrifices. If you're not willing to do the work, it's unlikely that you'll get the outcome you're looking for.

4. What do I want from a coach?

Are you looking for an industry expert to share their experience? For help healing psychological trauma? For someone to give you advice and instructions to follow because you've had enough of trying to work it out for yourself? If you've answered yes to any of these, you're probably not looking for a coach (these are mentors, counsellors and consultants). Coaching is about empowering you to find your own answers. Every coach is different, and some may offer other services alongside coaching. The best way to find out for sure if a coach offers what you're looking for is to have a chat with them about it.

To help you decide which coach is for you

Now that you're sure you want to go ahead with coaching, it's time to choose your coach. Most coaches offer you the opportunity to meet them briefly before committing to anything. I offer a free 30 minute chemistry check session - you can book here.

5. What do I need to feel comfortable?

It can be really scary to open up about your long-held beliefs, thoughts and values. Fears of being judged, criticised or misunderstood can get in the way. Trusting your coach and feeling comfortable sharing means you can explore below the surface level to enable real and lasting change. Ask yourself what you need in place to feel comfortable: Where do you want to meet? When? What topics or behaviours are no-go for you? Have this information ready before you meet your coach for the first time so you can make sure you're on the same page.

6. How do I learn best?

We all learn differently and enjoy different things. I find having a picture or visual prompt makes it way more likely that I'll remember something. I know that physically moving around helps me come up with new ideas. I can't think clearly in dark, dingy rooms (my brain gets distracted by how much I want to get out of there and back into natural light!) Every coach has something different to offer - finding the one that compliments your learning style will give you the best possible chance of success. You can find out what it's like working with me here.

7. What do I want to know about my coach?

What level of qualification and experience do you want your coach to have*? Is their life experience important to you? What about their world view and beliefs? It's up to you what you're interested in and comfortable with, your coach should be open to sharing as much as you need. If they're not, you might be better off with someone else. You can find out a bit more about me here.

*ICF, AC & EMCC qualifications are highly respected in the UK. Coaches that are part of these bodies abide by industry best practice and ethics. Qualification includes assessment of an observed session and knowledge of these ethics. You can find out about my qualifications and experience here.

8. How's the chemistry?

Finally, does it feel right? On paper - or according to their website - a coach could be perfect for you but when you get together, you don't click. Don't worry, just be honest. Have a think about what it is that makes you feel that way. If you want to, share it with the coach - they might be able to make a change and any coach worth their salt will value the feedback. If you'd rather not, use the information to help you find someone else. You shouldn't feel under pressure to continue with a coaching relationship that doesn't work for you.

Wishing you every success with your coaching journey!