Fit and Chemistry. Finding the coach that creates supersonic results

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CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME is a, brilliantly written and brilliantly acted film. I really hope Richard E Grant gets the Oscar! The ad that preceded it at the cinema yesterday was for American Express, reminding us “don’t live life without it “and “don’t do business without it”. Big production, high grade photography and a message that coincidentally expresses my thought that people in business do much better when they have a coach

As a FTSE executive or a start-up founder, coaching helps you accelerate growth, attack your challenges from a different perspective or fast track your career.

Coaching is exploding as a must have, and so there are literally hundreds of coaches available. So how do you choose the best person to make you supersonic? And indeed is it your choice?

If you are in the position to choose your own business coach, I recommend doing two simple exercises to get the ball rolling :

1. Think about what type of coaching you want by thinking about these questions :

  • Do you want a high level of challenge? Would you like a high level of support?
  • Do you like people who match your style and approach? Do you like people who are really different from you?
  • Do you want a sole trader? Are you more comfortable with someone who works with a group of coaches?
  • Is Sector experience important? Or is that not important?
  • Is specific expertise important e.g. conflict resolution, CV writing? Or is that not important?
  • Would you like to meet in your offices? Or prefer to meet in an external location?
  • Do you rate psychology as an important skill for coaches? Or is that not important?
  • Do you want them to have real hands-on business experience? Or is that not important?

2. What are your challenges and what do you want to get out of coaching?

Many people find their coach through asking their friends and colleagues for recommendations, or researching specific coaching companies, or searching for organisations that provide coaches with their accreditation, such as EMCC

Researching specific companies gives you the opportunity to see if the coaches have sector relevant experience, if that is important to you.

What we do know is that if the chemistry and fit are right, the coaching will be supersonic.   Recommendations from trusted friends are a good place to start, but remember just because the chemistry and fit is right for your partner, or best mate, it might not be right for you.  So make sure you have a substantial chemistry meeting or a taster session, before you commit to the coach.

The chemistry meeting is the opportunity to hear the coach talk about their approach to coaching; to check that you could trust them; that you would believe in their views.  It is valuable to do a mini coaching session on a particular (and live) challenge with the potential coach and notice whether they ask you questions that trigger a different perspective.

In larger businesses, many experienced L&D professionals build a community of coaches with different skill sets and styles. They pre select one or two coaches and offer their internal clients chemistry meetings with them to check the fit and approach.

Increasingly, L&D experts are confident in their ability to match their internal clients with coaches, and with an awareness of the pressure on management’s meeting time, will pick the coach and organise the programme based on their interpretation of the need and style. In my experience, this has worked well, as the L&D professional understands the business, the challenges, the individual and has good visibility of the coach.

Now that coaching has increased in popularity, we can often forget to stress the must haves. The coach must commit to respect the confidentiality of the information shared in the coaching session, and with live GDPR rules in place, also have a policy about managing privacy and data.

If you are in the market for a coach, think about what sort of person you like working wit, check their credentials to see if they have an approach that looks sound, meet them to see if you respect and trust their judgement, and if in that first meeting they ask you questions that make you think, you have got the best basis to make your coaching programme a success.

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