CHOOSING A COACH
Coaching comes in a variety of flavours:
Life or Personal Coaching tends to be one to one (although couples may sometimes be coached together). It is generally focussed on issues, questions and concerns around your social environment. Whilst that environment will often include a place of work, coaching discussions rarely focus primarily on work issues and relationships. Much of this type of coaching is financed by the individual and there are large numbers of coaches operating in the life-coaching field.
When selecting a Life or Personal coach the most important consideration for you is the match between you and your coach:
Make sure when you begin working with any coach that there is a “contracting” meeting. This is where you both agree goals and also the process and duration of coaching. Make sure that you are honest if you do not feel comfortable with your coach at this early stage! Many people commit to 6 or even 12 mths of coaching because they are uncomfortable saying “no” to their coach!
Whilst many Life or Personal coaches do have full qualifications and extensive experience, the huge number of “you too can be a coach” training events which can sometimes mean only one weekend of instruction means that you may need to ask some pointed questions and make a personal choice before you are happy to continue with your coach. Just because they do not have full qualifications doesn’t mean that they are a bad coach…and full qualifications does not guarantee they are a good coach for YOU! Take your time and you’ll find someone who fits the bill. Ideally experience an initial session with a couple of coaches so that you can compare their style. Sometimes people commit just because they feel the relief of talking to someone!
Business or Professional Coaching is marginally more regulated – partly because this type of coaching is generally financed by an organisation or manager and is thus subject to more stringent checks on the background and experience of coaches.
Do not think however that this makes the fit between you and your coach any less important! Just because HR believe you will get on with a particular coach, do not be afraid to speak out if you are not OK with this.
Business and Professional coaches have usually gained not only a recognised coaching or psychological qualification but also extensive experience in business management, or consultancy. It is this breadth of experience and training that means that business coaches are often more expensive than Life or Personal coaches. This does NOT mean that they are better – simply that they market themselves in a different way and tend to be employed by corporations rather than individuals. It can also mean that they tend toward advice and mentoring based on their own experience rather than drawing out yours. Always meet your coach before committing to work with them and be clear with yourself and with them about what you want from the relationship.
Many people’s first experience of coaching is through a team-coaching experience where an external (or infrequently internal) consultant works with the team to develop interpersonal dynamics and relationships. I consider team coaching to be a form of specialist facilitation and you will find more information about this under the heading of "Facilitation" - take me there.