3 Simple Steps for Contracting a Coach

Do your homework to find the right coach for you

Do your homework to find the right coach for you

As mentioned in previous posts there seems to be some confusion about what coaching is and isn’t. The International Coach Federation (ICF) reported that this is still seen as a major barrier to the industry moving forward. Personally as a qualified coach, I’m not too hung up on the ‘industry’ as it doesn’t provide me with my work. For me, I’m much more interested in helping clients understand what they need and how coaching can support them and their businesses.

When I started offering coaching as a formal discrete offer through my business, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out the right professional coaching package to offer clients. Such a package would have to cover the coaching agreement and contract, appropriate ethics and guidelines, coaching models and tools, hourly rates and measurement of impact. I bought lots of books, read lots of articles and spoke to lots of coaches. I came to the conclusion that there was a range of different options and opinions out there.

I already had sample contracts in place for my consultancy and training business and those would suffice with minor adaptions. In relation to ethics, I’d written guidelines when working as an academic for research projects and was wise enough to know there were enough great examples of ethics out there. The key was to not overcomplicate things, understand what was needed and find some guidelines that I could actively buy into and suited my values. I ended up settling on the ICFs version.

Figuring out which models and tools to use was a massive journey for me. Although I’d been schooled in the GROW model (click here for an introduction to GROW), I’d always felt that there must be more than this. I thought I had got it but then I faced the question of how do you deploy this over a period of weeks or months when I’m working with someone over a longer time period? I had only been exposed to this being taught to be deployed in a coaching session. What I came to realise is a lot of people explained the GROW model in a short-sighted way. Many fell at the first hurdle, which was Goals. They failed to differentiate between ‘end goals’ and ‘performance goals’, as GROW can operate at different levels. For example, your end goal might be to graduate with First Class honours; in order to achieve this, you will need some form of performance goals along the way. Sir John Whitmore put it thus:

“The end goal may provide the inspiration, but the performance goal provides the specification.”

I immersed myself in other models trying them out with different clients and seeing if there was one or two go too models that made real sense. I was trying to approach this from the point of view of ‘how do I explain my approach to coaching and what methodology I use’. There are more and more books available now that showcase a variety of models (many of which are essentially the same thing). Different coaches also bring different perspectives to their work depending on their background experience. Some brought clinical therapeutically models, others more business related and yet others a more spiritual dimension. All ultimately should help the client move forward.

I see coaching as quite similar in some ways to the fitness industry. There are many different approaches, fads, truths and ways of getting fit and differing opinions of what ‘fit’ is. If you are going to invest time money or other resources as a trainer or as a client; you need to invest a bit of time up front to work out the good from the not so good or downright dangerous.

Making a decision on a clutch of practical models I’d tried and tested allowed me to then think about setting hourly rates and measurement of impact. I put these together into a ‘professional package’ and then took this to market. Little did I realise this was the start of another much more interesting journey into the world of clients and real coaching but that’s for a future post [sign up to get the next instalment!]

What I’d like people to take from this post, is that coaching is not a cure all or a simple quick fix. I would advise 3 steps:

1.     Take some time to work out how and why you think coaching may work for you.

2.     Once you’ve decided on the right form of coaching for you, investigate it further and ask lots of questions.

3.     Choose a coach who can help you find answers to your questions or to formulate better questions.

There is no one size fits all approach and lots of coaches have bought into complicated and convoluted methodologies that might not suit what you need. Find a coach who will work with you to understand what you need and will point you in the right direction.

If you’re not sure how coaching could help you or your team then get in touch. It’s free to talk to me or my colleagues, and we love to help clients learn and apply or as we say to Know+Do.