As people venture out on their own and create businesses, they’re finding that the performance demands of the environment exceed their ability to act effectively and meet challenges.
In this Information Age, we now live in, it’s a huge challenge to stay focused and concentrate. Personal and professional coaching has to date, gone mainstream. This is mostly due to the increasing demands being placed on us in our personal and professional lives. People recognize the fact that they can improve their personal and business situations with the assistance of an outside, objective expert – a professional coach.
An effective coach will help you establish a firm sense of priorities, which can enhance your ability to focus. They point out and remove blind spots, and help you see things differently. They help you recognize and identify your biases, and how you distort reality. This accelerates your progress. And the best coaches mold their involvement around the needs of the client. They focus on the best way to help a client.
Coaches differ from therapists by focusing on the FUTURE, not the past. The best coaches have business skills and abilities that the majority of therapists just don’t possess. They’re experts at asking you the right questions. Unlike consultants, they’re very involved with the client on an on-going basis and for the long-term. Your friendships are “quid pro quo” and reciprocal. A coach only focuses on your interests. Top coaches are a “base camp” where you can return to in order to reassess plans, and to refocus when you’re scaling the peaks of high-performance results and achievement in your personal and professional lives.
You may notice that you’ll find coaches saying they are “certified.” Bear in mind that no one certifies the certifiers. Some of the best coaches in the country aren’t “certified.” Some of the worse are. So certification should be taken with a grain of salt. It may be more important for the “coaches” who’ve jumped on the industry bandwagon, and who have little real world experience in coaching others. See below for the essential questions to ask a prospective coach in your interview with them.
Some universities are beginning to certify coaches (e.g. Georgetown University) and have rigorous program entry requirements. Applicants must have had a background in organizational development or organizational behavior over a period of years. So, all in all, caveat emptor (let the buyer beware)! Also, beware of the plethora of therapists and psychotherapists who are entering the field. Many are just not qualified to coach effectively. Coaching is NOT therapy.
Fees vary widely. However, note that with coaching, “you get what you pay for.” Like experienced and competent professionals in the fields of medicine, law, and finance, fees can reach to over $300 per hour. So generally speaking, the more experience and competence.
I have years of coaching experience, and I am on the higher end of the fee scale. However, my focus is on growth-oriented individuals whom I enjoy working with. Therefore, I’ve established special programs for qualified clients in any income situation. -J.D.
Understanding of the complex dynamics of teaching and training adults. Excellent listening ability to “read between the lines,” and hear what the client doesn’t say – as much as what they do. Ability to be persuasive and influence clients to alter behavior and adopt new modes of action. Powerful Tools and Good Strategies to assess strengths and soft spots of each unique client, so to help them best. Ability to hold clients accountable to high standards. The desire to continually grow in their own skills and continue their education on both a formal and informal basis. How long does the coaching relationship usually last?
Coaching ranges from one-time interventions to long-term formalized structures occurring approximately once per week. HLP’s longest running relationship with a client has covered over 2.5 years and 147, one-hour coaching sessions. An average client is normally coached from 6 to 9 months.
The best results occur over time. Generally, competent coaches can effectively address problems and concerns fairly quickly. However, as with any worthwhile discipline or art, learning new skills and habits and altering lifelong perspectives takes time and commitment. HLP structured coaching is around 12-sessions, 90-day timeframes. Clients then evaluate results, and a mutual decision to continue is made. This way the client always retains control of the coaching relationship.
What important interview questions should I ask a prospective coach with whom I’m considering working?
How long have you been formally coaching? (Beware of answers that “pad” experience with expressions like “I’ve always given people (friends, colleagues, etc.) advice.” What you want to note is how long people have PAID them for their counsel.) How many people have you coached during your formal coaching career? Do you have a Curriculum Vitae (CV) or resume I can preview? What are your coaching strengths, and your weaknesses?
Once you start a coaching relationship, what specific, tested, and proven tools do you use to assess your clients? (Be very cautious of coaches who say “none” or things like “I just use my intuition and judgment.” There are numerous, formal assessment instruments available that enable good coaches to assess the strengths and potential soft spots of a client. Expect a thorough explanation of these tools and why that coach has chosen those particular ones.) The desire to continually grow in their own skills and continue their education on both a formal and informal basis.
How do you motivate and inspire your clients? How experienced are you in the areas I want help? What kind of individuals do you relate to and work with the best? What other services do you provide that add value to the coaching relationship? Can you provide references?