You are committed to your growth and you are going to work with a coach. Congratulations. Working with a coach can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your professional life. Your career can skyrocket when the fit is right. When the fit is wrong, not only will you have invested thousands of dollars and wasted hours of time, you will likely be severely disappointed.
Before you decide to invest in coaching you should know about the five red flags.
2. No needs assessment
3. Too many choices
4. Conflicting visions
5. Fuzzy expectations and boundaries
I’ve done it and I’ll bet thousands of others have to0. Sign up for coaching without really knowing what you want to gain. You see your friend benefit from coaching and think the same coach would be good for you too. Or you watch a certain coach rise to fame and get infatuated.
Before you sign on the dotted line, ask yourself a few questions. Are you simply confused and looking for clarity, or is there a particular skill you need to learn? If you can be honest with yourself you might find some hidden motives. Perhaps you are looking for a parent figure, or you want agreement about the path you are on, or maybe you are star struck. Are you simply infatuated with a particular coach’s notoriety and success, or is there something in particular you want to learn from that coach?
When you know what you want, you are in the driver’s seat. When you are unclear, your first responsibility is to gain clarity before hiring a coach. Believe it or not there are even coaches specializing in helping you gain clarity.
No needs assessment
If you know that you are unclear, a good coach can help you with the clarity by doing a needs assessment. Yes, you may need to pay a minimum fee even for a needs assessment but the good news is, if that coach has integrity, he or she can refer you to someone more suited to help you if he or she finds that the two of you are not a good fit.
Beware of a coach who doesn’t assess your needs before starting to work with you otherwise, you are going to become even more confused as you talk to each type of expert out there.
Too many choices
Let’s face the truth that every expert believes he or she has the answer for a failing business. The speech coach will tell you that if you do more speaking you could get more business. The branding expert will tell you that if you used the right colors and had the right logo and tag line all would work out. The internet marketing coach has a group program on how to create products, and they will tell you if you just get an e-book then you can generate additional income. A law of attraction coach will tell you that if you only change your beliefs you could be a millionaire, and so on.
Once again, an assessment might uncover a different truth altogether. More often than not, the solution to your problem is not just one answer. A good assessment can give you options on how to create a road map.
Unless you are using a coach for a single skill base, how can a coach really know what you need unless they do their homework? Beware of any coach offering you advice when they don’t understand who you are and what your skill levels are. Areas for assessment include, education, experience, knowledge base, years in an industry, expertise, understanding of technology, general business skills, as other specialized areas.
You want a coach who can see at least some of your vision. Beware of any coach who tells you to make a 180 degree turn if they haven’t done their homework. It is a dangerous assumption for a coach to say that what you are doing is totally wrong, or that what you want is not possible, unless they have data to back up their assumption. One time I changed my complete website on the advice of a coach. This turned out to be a bad decision that cost me not only time but sales on my website, however it was my fault for not doing my homework before choosing a coach.
Now, that’s not to say that your coach might challenge your beliefs, but ultimately you want to work with someone who helps you achieve your dream, not theirs.
A good coach should be perfectly clear on the boundaries. Do they call you, or do you call them? Are they accessible by e-mail or not? Are phone calls 45 minutes flat or do they give you extra time as needed? Do they charge monthly or as a package? Is there a fair distribution of power or is their contract loaded to protect them only. For example I knew a coach who expected full payment up front but had a clause where the coach could end the commitment for no reason. You are responsible to look out for your welfare. As the saying goes, good fences make good neighbors. Better to talk about expectations and boundaries BEFORE you start rather than in the middle of working with someone. A coach without decent systems may still be brilliant yet may be more of a distraction than a help.