Making the Most of Working with Your Coach

As people are reflecting on what is important in their lives and in their careers, they are turning to coaches to help them through this pivotal moment and the need for coaches is higher now than ever.  Coaches can partner with you on your career,  leadership style, improve your interview skills, respond to specific feedback you are working on, coaching through change, or broader life coaching.  No matter the focus, the value you can gain by working with a coach can be life-changing.  But if you have never worked with a coach before, it can be daunting to get started.  Below are some tips to consider as you identify a coach that is right for you and the best ways to work with your coach once you start.

Finding your coach.  It’s important to take a step back and think about why you want to work with a coach.  What is driving your decision or the goal you want to accomplish? Once you know that, even at a high level, it will help you consider what kind of coach will best fit your needs.  Do you want a specialist (example a coach that is an expert on interview skills) or a coach that can help in different areas of your career or life?  Then start asking for referrals from your network.  There is a built-in trust if you know someone who worked with that person and can give you an honest review of their experience. Another route is to consider connecting with a company (like GoCoach, Sayge, ThinkHuman, and numerous others).  They will be able to work with you to help you find the right coach and some even have a platform that will then help monitor your progress, schedule your sessions, etc.  

Selecting your coach.  Once you have found some possible coaches, you want to take the time to do an intro call.  Think of it as a first date.  You want to make sure you are picking the right person for you.  You want to come to that meeting with some questions, just like you would an interview.  Some possible questions could be: How do they work with coachees, What kinds of engagements have they recently done, Do they use any tools, books, or guides with coachees.   Share your initial goals and why you want to work with a coach and ask if they have worked with others with similar goals and what specifically they did to help those people.  Maybe they haven’t coached someone in your industry or with your title but look for examples of people in similar stages in their career and with similar goals.   Especially if you haven’t worked with a coach before, interview a few coaches (three is a good target) so you can hear different perspectives and approaches.  Listen to your gut.  If you aren’t getting the right feeling from someone, keep looking.  A coach/coachee relationship is very personal, if you have any concerns, see if they are willing to commit to just a couple of sessions to make sure it’s the right pairing before considering a longer-term commitment.

Working with your coach.  Your coach will probably walk through how to prep for each session.  But this is your investment, take advantage of it!  Be honest with your coach, be vulnerable, and be ready to do the work.  Come to each meeting with a specific goal or something you actively want to work on in that session.  Do your homework between sessions, even if it’s just writing down wins and struggles you had that week.  A  good coach will push you outside of your comfort zone so make sure you are ready to hear it, be open to it, take it in and think about how you can adjust your behaviors or perspective based on that feedback.

After that, keep an open mind and enjoy the partnership, together you will drive some amazing results.  I’m not just saying that because I am a coach, but because I have felt it directly myself.  By working with coaches in my career, I was able to recognize behaviors that were holding me back, they helped me focus when I was all over the map, and give myself permission to be ok when something didn’t go how I wanted or was outside of my control.   Check out my “Find Your Passion” page for more advice and worksheets to help prepare for your upcoming coaching partnership.  Good luck on this journey and I’m here to help if you want to chat!

Photo by Natasha Fernandez on