This is the third installment in a 4-week series on Mentors, Coaches, and Sponsors. You can review week 1: Mentors, Coaches, and Sponsors – OH MY! by clicking here. The purpose of this series is to not only cover the important role that all of these can play in the advancement of your career, but also to cover how to find and work with each to get the most of your relationship.
This week, I’m going to focus on Coaches.
As a reminder, a coach is an experienced and trusted advisor like a mentor, but they are also professionally trained to help you maximize your full potential. Coaching is more than just giving you advice. Coaches help you take on specific professional projects, personal goals, and transitions by analyzing your current situation, identifying challenges, and devising a plan of action designed to achieve specific outcomes.
Attributes & Benefits
Coaches can focus on different areas of your life. There are business coaches, life coaches, health and wellness coaches, divorce coaches, etc. They can help you identify goals and define a vision for success. They can help you create personal and professional action plans. They can help you with starting a new business or growing an existing one. They can help you with business or career transitions. Some coaches can help with work/life balance, identifying and overcoming limiting beliefs, fostering stronger connections (both personally and professionally). Really anything that you can say you want to accomplish can be helped along by a coach.
Coaches will help you identify the right plan for achieving your vision of success. Once you know where you want to go (which coaches can help you clarify if you are unsure) they can help you put together the right steps in the right order to make sure it happens.
This benefit is often overlooked but really important. A coach also serves as an accountability partner. They are going to make sure you set realistic but challenging goals and then they are going to make sure you do what you say you are going to do.
When to Seek a Coach
Just like mentors, coaches are appropriate to hire at any stage of your career. People hire a coach because they want to do even more tomorrow than what they are able to do today. They want to improve their output and see more growth – and they want to do those things quickly and to the best of their ability.
College graduates will hire a coach to help them with their job search. Established employees will hire a coach to help them develop their management and leadership skills. It is always a good idea to hire a coach if you are interested in starting or growing your own business. Their expertise and perspective can help you avoid a lot of missteps and help you achieve success much quicker than going it on your own. People also hire coaches when considering career transitions or transition to retirement. Not just for advice or guidance but for an actual game plan to make it happen.
How to Find a Coach
The best way to find and hire a coach is through referrals. Ask people in your professional associations, colleagues, and other business resources if they have ever worked with a coach or if they know of any coaches. You can also find them online if you don’t know of anyone familiar with coaches.
How to Work with a Coach
You should select a coach based upon their background and areas of expertise as well as the fit or feeling you get from speaking with them. Do you find them knowledgeable? Do you find them inspiring and motivational? Do your personality styles match? Does their coaching style match your learning style? What is their coaching philosophy? We are all different and have different ways of approaching the same challenge. Make sure you spend time finding out if their style is going to work for you. The best way to do this is through an interview or initial consultation – and most coaches do offer complimentary sessions as a way to ensure they are a good fit for you.
A coach can be just as effective from out of state as they can in your town. Coaching sessions can be offered in person, via skype/video teleconference, or via phone. So, depending upon your preferences, the number of coaching options available to you increases dramatically.
Be sure to set clear expectations. How often will you meet, how will you meet, will there be homework assignments, follow up calls, etc.
Finally, coaching is not free. The investment in coaching services will vary depending upon the method of coaching you choose. Coaches will often times work one-on-one with private clients. Coaches can also provide assistance in a group coaching format and through workshops.
In summary, a coach is appropriate any time you are ready to take your performance to the next level or any time you’ve identified a gap between where you are and where you want to be (in your personal life, your career, or your business) and you need a game plan to close that gap.
Coaches are great at challenging and encouraging you to stretch beyond your current abilities. And while a coaching relationship is shorter in duration, the frequent and intensive interactions will take your farther and faster than you ever thought possible.