Do Good Jobs: How to Find a Coach that Works for You
If you’re feeling stuck, craving change, or longing for new solutions, coaching can help.
But what exactly is coaching, and how might it work for you?
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) describes coaching as ‘partnering with another person in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires you to reach your personal and professional potential.’
If that’s too wordy for you, try on my instructor’s definition instead:
Coaching is like hiring a personal trainer for your life or work.
It’s distinct from other disciplines like mentoring, consulting, and therapy. You should expect to partner with your coach as an equal. They won’t dispense advice — instead, your coach will help you find answers you already have within.
What Can I Bring to Coaching?
Coaching is a growing field, with many organisations, leaders, and teams turning to coaching as a means to build resilience, achieve personal and professional growth, and to find new solutions to pressing problems.
But it’s not just organisations — many individuals also opt to work with a coach to achieve personal goals. Whether it’s carving out your next career step, looking for the ‘missing piece’ in life, or discovering your purpose, coaching can bring very real benefits.
Pause for a moment and consider — how often do I have a dedicated space to focus exclusively on me?
This is exactly what coaching provides.
It’s not uncommon in the for-purpose sector, with many seeking coaching both in and out of work. Here are just a few examples of how for-purpose sector leaders, teams, organisations, and individuals use coaching.
As a New Leader
adapting to a new leadership role
focusing my energy in the right place
dealing with situations that push my buttons
providing constructive feedback
building strategic and influencing skills
As a Team
understanding personality types and team dynamics
improving team communication
improving team performance
focusing efforts toward a common goal
finding new solutions to pressing problems
As an Individual
understanding personal values, strengths, and competencies
carving out the next career step
creating better balance between work and life
working through challenging relationships and other personal situations.
This list is by no means exhaustive — you’re only limited by your imagination!
How Does It Work?
Coaching is generally tailored to suit your specific goals and needs. You may have a particular goal you wish to work towards, in which case signing up for a series of sessions over a period of weeks or months might suit. Or, you may opt for an ongoing engagement focused around a particular theme — like leadership development. Perhaps in this case, you attend monthly sessions over the course of a year or more. Once people have experience with a particular coach, they may choose to engage them for ad-hoc sessions as required.
Location doesn’t need to be a barrier these days — with many coaches opting to work online via audio or video call.
And there are as many approaches to coaching as there are coaches, but the key things are that you build a good rapport, that they’re led by your priorities, and that they effectively help you move toward your goals.
What Should I Know About Finding a Coach?
One thing to be aware of is that anyone can call themselves a coach while the profession is still unregulated.
So you’ll want to ensure the coach you choose is well equipped to help you — in terms of training, experience, and ethical practice. It pays to shop around.
First, you’ll want to clarify your goals. Get clear on what you want to get out of coaching, your whether you’re looking at a short or longer-term engagement, and your rough budget (more on this last point later).
Then, you’ll want to do some research. It can pay to ask your networks for recommendations, and you can also search online.
Look for coaches that help people with similar goals to yours. You’ll want to do a bit of homework, considering factors like:
What coach-specific training have they undertaken? What are their credentials?
What experience do they have?
What types of people do they work with, and can they provide specific, anonymous case studies?
What’s their coaching philosophy? How will they approach working with me?
Much of this information can be found on coaches’ websites.
The ICF recommends interviewing three coaches. Many offer a free introductory session so you can get to know them and how they work, discuss your goals in more depth, and ask any questions.
The relationship you have with your coach will be really important in determining what you get out of coaching, so choose someone you click with. Chances are, you’ll be sharing a lot about yourself during the process, so trust is important. It should be a given that coaches practice confidentiality, and abide by a code of ethics — but it pays to check this out with those you interview.
The Million Dollar Question — What it Costs
There’s no avoiding it — for some organisations, the cost of coaching is prohibitive.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Here are a few ideas worth exploring:
Perhaps you can negotiate to access coaching over other forms of professional development your organisation currently funds. Get clear on the benefits you expect to gain and how these will translate to work effectiveness.
Many individuals opt to pay for their own coaching, particularly when related to personal goals.
Some coaches do pro-bono work for the community sector. Don’t be afraid to ask the coaches you’re interviewing. Helptank is another great way to connect with coaches willing to offer pro-bono support.
Some coaches may be open to exchange — perhaps your organisation has a particular skill, activity or connection of value to the coach.
Make the most of the tremendous treasure trove of free tools, guides and articles online. Self-coaching can be really effective. And if you like the look of a certain coach, check out their website’s resources, blog or e-newsletter.
It can be challenging to carve out time and space to invest in your personal or professional development, particularly when the demands of work seem all encompassing. But the potential benefit of coaching can be huge —not only for yourself, but your organisation, and importantly, your kaupapa. As one of my clients put it, carving out the space to be proactive only makes you more proactive. That means less time fighting fires, and more time focusing on what really matters.