My Search for a Coach. The Good, the Bad and the…Seriously?
I got a coach! OK, I got another coach. And like all good (?) coaches, I learned from the experience. And I did learn, big time, wow! And I’d like to share my learnings with you, if you don’t mind.
Now, I must be frank, so perhaps some of what I’ve learned may not be completely welcome news to all my fellow coaches.
But, hopefully that’s OK, because it’s all feedback. My views aren’t Gospel, they’re just my views, so I hope you find them helpful, which is what I intend.
First of all, a thank you, a super-size thank you, a whoppin’, heartfelt, ‘come here and let me give you a big hug’ THANK YOU to all the coaches who reached out to me through Linked In, my website and by e-mail. Some messages were short and sweet, some were very full-on, reading a bit like a CV. Some were deeply encouraging and supportive and some were just a leetle, tiny bit weird but, hey, they were all welcome, I read and (think) I responded to them all.
However, one thing, which I have to say really surprised me, was that probably less than10% of coaches who read my blog got in touch. So, to the ones who didn’t…where were you, folks?
Now, fair enough, I understand there will be some coaches whose books are completely full to bursting and who would not be able to squeeze little old me in for a Skype call once a fortnight but what about everyone else? Surely, as a coach we all want to coach, right? And if someone really wants to be coached, wouldn’t (not shouldn’t!) we want to connect to see if we have, erm, a connection?
So, lesson number 1. Don’t be a bashful coach. Reach out, you have a wonderful vocation. Share, share, share at every opportunity.
Moving on. Another observation, and this one didn’t surprise me, but I think we need to sort it, is the number of people who call themselves coaches but aren’t, they’re mentors.
Now then, mentoring is much to be valued, especially in business. But it’s different from coaching. A mentor has some great answers for your questions. A coach will have great questions for your answers. I realize many people do both, that’s fine, nothing wrong with that, but if you only mentor, advise or are a consultant, please don’t call yourself a coach, like these terms are all interchangeable. They’re not.
Sewing and knitting, soling and heeling, plumbing and heating. They often go together, but they’re different and I think we all need to be clear what we do…and what we don’t do because this can be confusing and frustrating to potential clients and is one of the reasons, I believe, that in some circles coaching isn’t always seen in the best light.
Lesson number 2. Be clear at who you are and what you do. If we don’t know the difference, folks, how can we expect our clients to?
Anyway, once I’d filtered out all the lovely mentors, I did speak to quite a few coaches. Some were wonderful and generous enough to offer me complementary sessions and I was delighted to accept and very appreciative.
Naturally, I spoke to a few coaches about pricing and packages, which brings me on to another ‘learning’ I think as coaches we all need to consider…fees.
Crikey! I knew there was a difference in what coaches charge but, seriously? You can get a coach for 50 quid or 50 thousand, depending on what you’re prepared to pay.
Now, as a coach myself, I completely believe that a client needs to have, what Steve Chandler refers to as ‘skin in the game’. Coaching shouldn’t be cheap, in any sense of the word; it should perhaps even make a client a little uncomfortable in terms of what they’re paying for coaching.
However, what it shouldn’t do is have them lying awake at night wondering if they can afford the mortgage or pay the gas bill.
There are some coaches who will openly tell you they’re very expensive. 10 out of 10 for honesty, but 0 out of 10 for accessibility. And, that’s really my point.
Coaching should never be seen as elitist, for the privileged few who inhabit the rarefied atmosphere of the most worthy. Yes, I know coaching generally attracts successful people who want to be even more successful, but I sincerely believe coaching should be available to all who want it. I’m absolutely determined, that if a potential client wants coaching enough, I can work a price out that they can afford to pay me.
Lesson number 3. Be clear about your pricing structure and why you charge what you do. And, if you can, be prepared to be flexible and accommodating.
Overall, the last few weeks of talking to other coaches has been an amazing and enlightening experience. And one of the things that have emerged from my many conversations is a much clearer idea of where, specifically, I want to be coached. Which is handy, because that’s the idea of coaching!
Thank you again, to all you incredible coaches. And if you’re also in the market for a coach, you will let us know, won’t you!