Selecting the right coach to work with can be confusing. It’s a wonderful problem that there are so many to choose from these days but it can also feel daunting when you’re selecting who to trust and invest time and money in.
I write this a coach who has had the joy working with clients I adore but also the experience and steep learning curve of working with clients that were not a good fit and more work than reward for the both of us. I also write this as a student of life who has hired several coaches over the past seven years and learned along the way some tips that can help you choose the right person for your journey.
Here are my top tips to help you select your next coach
1 Make sure you like their vibe
When your friend Kylie says ‘hey you HAVE to go and work with my ……coach she is absolutely amazing’, I suggest you appreciate her enthusiasm and then hold her opinion lightly while you do your own research. We don’t always like our friend’s friends, an annoyance to our social lives at times but when we are paying for a service, we need to make sure we like our friend’s coach before working with her.
Do some research, look at the website, social media and sign up to her mailing list. You’ll soon get a feel for whether this particular coach is a fit for you. Trust your body and your instinctual reactions too. Is there a resonance, a likability, a curiosity to know more or do you instinctively know you’re on different wavelengths.
2 Do you feel totally comfortable with them
After you’ve assessed them from afar, the next step is to make contact. How easy is this process; do they respond promptly to your enquiry or are you left waiting? Does the coach respond in person or do you get an autoresponder or an email from their assistant and is this important to you or not?
When you finally get to speak to them or have a direct email conversation, does the coach make you feel at ease and answer your questions or are you left with certain things (price for example) unclarified. Do you like the sound of her voice? Do you think you’d feel comfortable telling this person your deepest desires and darkest secrets? Note, this may not be necessary depending on the type of coach they are but if you really want to hire someone to help you move mountains in your life, being totally open is where the magic happens.
3 Are they primarily a coach or a teacher?
Most coaches are naturally curious and have a drive to support others in achieving their goals. Occasionally, I’ve encountered coaches who were more suited to being teachers. By this I mean, rather than focussing on the individual client, their aim is on teaching ‘the best way to achieve…….outcome’ (usually something they have overcome themselves). This can have great results but it leaves little wiggle room for the circumstances and personal challenges of the individual.
A true coach on the other hand is someone who guides and supports you on your own journey of self-discovery. They will ask questions that inspire deep thinking and action but they won’t necessarily give you a formula. It’s a more fluid process that unfolds as you go. The coach may weave in select tools and suggestions as they learn more about how you work and what you respond to.
Often someone can be both a coach and a teacher. For example, I am primarily a coach and that’s the approach I take in 1:1 sessions however if I’m offering a group class obviously I need to deliver the information and suggestions in a more general fashion. So a teacher would be great for group work or a class or online course but if you want to learn more about YOU and take that journey of self discovery, choose someone who loves the deep dive.
4 Does their niche & style suit what you’re looking for
Have you sought out a money coach for your wealth mindset problems? Is the life coach you want to see post-divorce experienced in relationship breakdowns? If your primary goal is losing weight, you need to decide how to tackle it, do you want a fitness coach to keep you be accountable to exercise, a nutritional coach to help you design a meal program or a body love coach to help you change your mindset and learn to love yourself into shape? One person may love the idea of a shouty fitness guru while another may need a soft, gentle approach such as hypnosis.
If it’s a business coach you’re seeking, are they running a small business, coaching entrepreneurs when you have your sights set on a big role in a big company? Maybe an executive, career or leadership coach is more suitable. The wise Tash Corbin says ‘If you want to hire a marketing coach but don’t like the barrage of emails they send to you each week, it might not be the right fit because they are only going to tell you to write numerous emails to your audience too’. A coach’s niche and the way they go about helping the client solve their issues are super important to know and line up with the results you desire and your personality type.
5 Are you an energy match
By energy match, I’m asking you to take note if they are an extrovert or an introvert and know where you sit on this scale too. This one is quite important if you want to continue feeling comfortable (see point 2) and aligned as you work with taking action towards your goals.
To share a personal example, as an introvert, I thought if I was going to be a successful entrepreneur I’d have to get over myself and just fake it till I made it with the extrovert crew. I tried this approach and you may not be surprised at all to know it didn’t work. I now understand that I can’t change who I am and nor do I have to. I’ve learned to own my quiet confidence and express myself in ways that feel good to me. I also love coaching other introverts because I really understand their superpowers and equally what will give them hives.
While I’ve made my introversion quite clear on my own website, it won’t always be so obvious so here are some tips: What is their branding like; strong fonts and brightly coloured or minimalist with soft hues? When you read their messaging can you tell if they are more thought provoking or bold and action oriented? Is there a ‘lot going on’ on their website or a few simple offerings? Introverts often love 1:1 coaching while extroverts often feel more energised by larger events and group offerings. Find your own personal energy match for a better outcome.
6 What do they expect from you
This one is practical but important. What does the coach expect from you as you work together? For example, what are the terms of payment? What is her cancellation policy? Does she have an agreement form or contract and does it sound reasonable to you? How does she want you to stay in contact and how regularly, will she give you homework to do between sessions and is that doable with your schedule?
7 What do you expect from them
Equally as important it pays to have an idea of what you’re looking for in terms of support. One of the differences between coaching and therapy is that coaching usually offers contact and support between sessions where as, therapy has clear boundaries around this and you’ll need to wait until you visit the therapist next to ask your question.
Some coaches offer email support, others give out their phone number. Some make it clear that they do not work on weekends while others may be available. Do you need more nurturing and encouragement or someone who really challenges you with tough love questions? Do you think she can provide the type of support you personally require to take action?
8 What does your gut say
Lastly and most importantly, what does your gut say? When you’ve considered all the above, it’s time to tune in and ask the body. When we make decisions solely from the mind it doesn’t always play out the way we want it to. The mind is wonderful at overriding our gut response with its rationalising ability.
Here is a typical inner conversation with the mind in charge; ‘even though this coach is based in Florida and our calls will be at 10pm and she mainly works with male executives, my friend Kylie said she is awesome so I should just do it and book in’. Note the nuances in this rationalising statement ‘even though’…..(doubt), ‘my friend says’……(rating opinions of others above our own), ‘I should just do it’…….(more doubt).
Learn to decipher your mind talk, put it to one side and then ask your gut. The response will be more grounded, reliable and give you a better long term outcome. I guarantee it.