Ask Yourself These Questions before Hiring a coach

 

A couple of weeks ago, when talking to a client of mine, I encouraged him to think about working with an executive coach. He listened, and then asked, “Do you think I need a coach?”.

I understood the question underneath the question; he was asking whether I saw him as being a poor manager or leader. Even though working with an executive coach has become much more common over the past couple of decades, there can still be a lingering assumption that coaches are for people who are in trouble … failing or not capable some important way.

My immediate response was, “I think every leader needs a coach.” He looked skeptical.

The interesting thing to me: if he had been an athlete, he– and anyone who heard me– would have considered my response 100 % acceptable and normal. All world-class athletes have coaches; we assume that skiers, shot-putters and hurdlers need someone skilled and objective to support their ongoing improvement. We recognize that they might fall into bad habits, or be hampered by a negative mindset, or be overworking certain parts of their body, or not playing to their natural strengths.

Why is it different for business professionals? Managing and leading a group of people to get excellent results, while creating an open and supportive culture that attracts great people and calls out the best in them … that seems more challenging and complex to me than pole-vaulting or long-distance running.

Now for the caveat. Even though I do believe that all leaders need coaches, I don’t necessarily think that all leaders should go out right now and engage a coach; I think certain things have to be true before you can actually benefit from having a coach:.

Is coaching seen as a positive in your organization? In some organizations, the skepticism I encountered in my client is more like outright disbelief. This tends to be true where coaching has been used badly in the past: where people get coached as a prelude to getting fired; where people have had poor coaches who have advised them badly or not at all; or where confidentiality has been breached in coaching situations. However, in some organizations the opposite is true– people see coaching as a perk, even a mark of distinction. In these organizations, the senior leaders often have coaches, and are seen to benefit from working with them. People view getting a coach as a sign that the company is investing in their success. Before engaging a coach, ask around and get a sense of how coaching is viewed in your company. If your organization sees working with a coach in a positive way, that’s a great indicator that you could be able to benefit from having one.

Does your boss support your development? Even in organizations where coaching is generally seen as a good thing, if your boss doesn’t want to make the investment in you, it will be hard for you to have a great coaching experience. This is true even if the investment for coaching isn’t dependent on your boss’ support (in some companies, coaching is paid for through HR or Learning and Development)– he or she can still make it tough. I’ve had coaching clients whose bosses weren’t willing to speak with the coach, or who consistently interrupted coaching sessions with “urgent” calls. Have a conversation about it first with your boss if you ‘d like to work with a coach. If you get evasiveness, a blank look or negativity (“coaches are a waste of money”)– even if you can somehow get a coach, it may be hard to get the full benefit. If, however, his/her initial response is some form of, “It’s great that you want to do this, let’s try to make it happen,” go find yourself a great coach.

Is a good coach available to you? Which leads us to this next question. One unfortunate result of the increased popularity of coaching: there are now lots of people calling themselves coaches who aren’t very effective. One client organization we’ve just begun working with has had a kind of resident coach for the past few years. This person began as the coach of a senior executive who became the CEO, and then talked his way into being the “coach” for most of the executive team. His coaching support consisted of hanging around the organization, spouting platitudes and telling executives what to do. He was recently hired into the organization and is no longer “coaching,” so now the HR folks are trying to rehabilitate coaching’s reputation in the organization by offering skilled coaches and structured coaching engagements to executives who are open to them. If you’re not sure about the quality of the coaches available in your organization and are wondering how to tell a good coach from a poor one, you might find this post helpful.

Are you willing to do what it takes to grow? I’ve left this for last, because I think it’s the most important question to ask yourself when deciding whether to engage a coach. You notice I didn’t ask “Do you want to grow?”– that’s a question like “Would you like to be rich?” or “Are you interested in reaching your ideal weight?” Do we want results? Sure. Are we actually ready to do the work it’s going to take to get there? Hmmm. The most useful and uncomfortable thing about having a good coach is that he or she will encourage you to look at where you’re doing well and where you’re not doing so well … and will– if you’re open to it– support you to work in those areas where you need to improve. Acknowledging that you’re not great at something is tough. Especially when you’re a manager and leader, and people are looking to you for guidance, direction and answers, it can be embarrassing, awkward– even painful– to “be bad first”; to let others see that you’re not good at something as you work to get good at it. I’ve been coaching a senior leader who has realized that he’s not good at delegating or holding people accountable. He’s always found it easier to just leap in and do things for his people instead. He’s now engaged in the necessary but painful task of learning how to delegate well and to hold people accountable for doing what they’ve committed to do. He’s not great at either of these things yet– but he’s getting better. And he’s been surprised to discover that his employees are very supportive of his learning, and that his example of struggling to learn new, important skills has been a good model for them in their own learning.

And that’s the bottom line, really, and why I told my skeptical client that I think everyone needs a coach. If you can answer yes (or even “mostly yes”) to these four questions, then having a coach will not only benefit you, it will benefit the people around you and your organization, as well. And like Olympic athletes, your coach may be a catalyst for you to excel in ways you never thought possible.

Have you had a great or terrible experience working with an executive coach? I ‘d love to hear about it …

This tends to be true where coaching has been used badly in the past: where people get coached as a prelude to getting fired; where people have had poor coaches who have advised them badly or not at all; or where confidentiality has been breached in coaching situations. I’ve had coaching clients whose bosses weren’t willing to speak with the coach, or who consistently interrupted coaching sessions with “urgent” calls. If you get evasiveness, a blank look or negativity (“coaches are a waste of money”)– even if you can somehow get a coach, it may be hard to get the full benefit. He was recently hired into the organization and is no longer “coaching,” so now the HR folks are trying to rehabilitate coaching’s reputation in the organization by offering skilled coaches and structured coaching engagements to executives who are open to them. If you’re not sure about the quality of the coaches available in your organization and are wondering how to tell a good coach from a poor one, you might find this post helpful.

Some people have a therapist but I have a business coach

We all have issues. For many people, those issues tend to be related to personal goals and problems, such as relationships and the like. For me, my anxiety, focus, frustrations and goals seem to mostly be around business

While many people hire therapists, I have the business equivalent: a business coach.

I have been working with my coach, Alan Roby, for close to six years. We “meet” via phone for an hour, usually twice a month. He has helped me to not only transition myself from investment banker to a media and entrepreneurial hybrid, but he is a constant source of support.

While coaches can vary in price– from less than $100 to several hundred dollars or more per session– price shouldn’t be the deciding factor. You want to find a coach who understands you and your business and that you are comfortable with, but also one that will push back on you, too. Hiring a “yes man” (or woman) won’t produce a good return for your investment.

Getting recommendations can be a good place to start on your search for a coach. Also do some research online and then try out a few in a complimentary or low-cost initial session (which most coaches offer) to get a feel with whom you think would be the best fit for your needs.

Here’s why I think that this type of business therapy is helpful and how you and your business can benefit from it.

I pay to only talk about me and my business.

I’m an advisor– it’s the role I play in life. That role is so prevalent that for a while, my nickname was Lucy (a la “The Dr. Is IN” from the Peanuts cartoon). Personally and professionally, I give advice to solve other people’s problems.

This means that most of the time, I am not focused on or talking about my development.

By paying a business coach, I get, for a full-hour at a time, to talk about and focus on nothing other than me, my problems, my opportunities, my goals and did I mention me? It forces me to schedule time to work on my own business, time that I would likely have spent helping someone else. This discipline has been invaluable in morphing my professional life and growing my business endeavors.

Additional business knowledge

While I do have many friends who would oblige listening to me if I asked, many don’t understand business. So, their help isn’t so helpful in problem solving. Having a savvy business person in my corner gives needed perspective, such as seeing the forest through the trees, so to speak, from someone whose input is relevant.

Consistency and history

Having a history of working together allows my coach to see patterns or to reference things and opportunities that I have mentioned in the past that I may have overlooked or even forgotten, but that could be helpful in the present and the future.

No BS

Because my coach is a paid advisor and not a friend, he will call me on the few occasions where I need to be called out. Friends, family and even colleagues are often hesitant to do this because they have a multi-faceted relationship with me and want to keep up the “warm fuzzies” in our interactions. The coaching relationship is aligned around helping me to succeed, which gives my coach more freedom to be helpful and honest.

No judgment

On the other side of the coin, I am also brutally honest with my coach, because I know that there is no judgment. I don’t have to worry about hurting someone else’s feelings or being vulnerable. Not that I am one to really be anything other than brutally honest, but I still feel like I have more liberty to deep-dive into the nitty-gritty of my moods, challenges, etc. because I know that he will help me to work through those, without having to worry about it making family dinner awkward.

So, whether you are seeking discipline, a forum to vent or even a sanity check without judgment, I recommend that you invest in a business coach to help your business get to the next level.

 

You want to find a coach who understands you and your business and that you are comfortable with, but also one that will push back on you, too. By paying a business coach, I get, for a full-hour at a time, to talk about and focus on nothing other than me, my problems, my opportunities, my goals and did I mention me? It forces me to schedule time to work on my own business, time that I would likely have spent helping someone else. While I do have many friends who would oblige listening to me if I asked, many don’t understand business. Having a savvy business person in my corner gives needed perspective, such as seeing the forest through the trees, so to speak, from someone whose input is relevant.

Critical Steps For Constructing A Profitable Online Business

If you had asked me about making money online four years ago, I would have called you a liar. I was a blue-collar worker who never touched computers.

I woke up every day at midnight to deliver bread to grocery stores. I hated my job; I hated my life, but I didn’t know how to escape.

In 2011, I started listening to podcasts. I found Pat Flynn and got excited about the idea of creating a location-independent online business. I studied any information I could get my hands on. What I found got me far, but I decided that investing in a course from a well-known marketer would help me reach the next level.

I was sadly disappointed. The course was $697, which was a HUGE investment for me at the time. We were living paycheck-to-paycheck. There were a few good tidbits, but overall the course was designed to up sell students on the marketers “elite” program.

That experience taught me a valuable lesson and forced me to learn these four steps to creating a profitable online business. Use these strategies to create freedom in your “work” and give you the flexibility to spend your time on the things that are important to you.

Here are the 4 steps to creating a profitable online business:

 

  1. Build a sizable and engaged following

You are probably familiar with the theory of 1,000 true fans. The reality is that you don’t need a thousand fans to start making serious money. If your fans are engaged, they will spend money with you and tell others about your business. So, how do you build a following? There are a few ways:

– Social media. This is my least favorite way because the organic reach of social media is pretty small these days. More times than not, you will have to pay to reach your audience. Even though the engagement is low, there’s still an opportunity to reach the billions of users on social media.

– Get interviewed on Podcasts. Podcasting is huge and only getting bigger. These days, people listen to podcasts more than traditional radio. You can sign up for a service like Radio Guest List and have shows emailed to you every morning that are looking for a guest like you. Get interviewed on as many shows as possible, and some of those listeners will come back to your website. In 2012, I was interviewed on 80 podcasts and brought 100,000 visitors back to my website from the shows.

– Write for large authority sites. You can write for some of the biggest websites in the world. Websites, such as the Huffington Post and Entrepreneur Magazine– among others– are always looking for good content. Since these websites publish so much content, they’re always looking. You can get a free guide that walks you through how to get into these sites on my website.

These are a few ways to build a following fast. Just using these strategies, I’ve been able to build my email list from 3,000 people to over 24,000 in one year.

“Social media will help you build up loyalty of your current customers to the point that they will willingly, and for free, tell others about you.”– Bonnie Sainsbury

  1. Stop chasing influencers

When you’re building an online business, the common advice is to connect with an influencer in hopes of them giving your business a shout out. Because so many other people are trying to do the same thing, this is bad advice. Influencers such as Pat Flynn get hundreds of emails every day from people looking to “connect.” The time you spend chasing could be spent building your business using the strategies I mentioned above. You can connect with an influencer as a colleague once you build your business without chasing.

 

  1. Focus on what will help your business

A lot of times, the frustration in building a business comes from information overload. We see someone talk about making six-figures using Instagram, and we’re focused on Instagram marketing for the next month with no results. Because something worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you, just. You have to focus on what will help you where you are in your building journey. You can ask help from expert business coach to guide you.

 

  1. Don’t be afraid to sell

You may have the sincere desire to help people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t charge a fair price for your products/services. The goal is to create freedom and that comes from your business making money. Don’t be afraid to sell. If someone opts out of your email list because you made an offer, so be it. As long as you’re not spamming your list, you only want those who are interested– not the tire kickers.

I found Pat Flynn and got excited about the idea of creating a location-independent online business. When you’re building an online business, the common advice is to connect with an influencer in hopes of them giving your business a shout out. The time you spend chasing could be spent building your business using the strategies I mentioned above. Once you build your business without chasing, you can connect with an influencer as a colleague.

A lot of times, the frustration in building a business comes from information overload.