Coaching “fit” goes far beyond likeability

Sometimes I get asked to attend a “meet and greet” before a coaching engagement, hosted by an organization, to see if the coachees “like” me. Many companies introduce several coaches to every potential coachee. When I talk to coachees, they report finding it hard to choose between the coaches they are presented with. Why? Because all coaches in that scenario are going to be good coaches and will be doing their best to win over the client.

How does the client know who to choose when all they have to go on are three great first impressions from three great coaches? I see this “meet and greet” process as inefficient, as it uses valuable time and fails to consider other elements of compatibility. Just because someone “likes” me does not mean that I am the best suited to help them reach their goals. “Fit” should go beyond that.

Here are my top tips for finding fit:

  1. Find a coach who has the right business background, skillset, and area of specialty. Don’t underestimate the value a coach can bring when they have a solid understanding of the nuances of your industry.
  2. Find a coach who enjoys and has experience working with individuals coaching objectives similar to yours. No matter how versatile a coach is, they will enjoy and excel at working towards some goals more than others. For example, I am most effective at helping people get their next promotion and transition into their new role, while other coaches may be most successful helping coachees work through stress. We all have diverse backgrounds that contribute to our strengths as coaches.
  3. Find someone you trust. David Maister’s trust equation cites the following as crucial components of trust: professional credibility (technical and business skills), reliability (providing great client service), and intimacy (the relationship built and the deep understanding of a client’s goals). Each of these aspects speaks to a coach’s reputation, commitment, and character rather than just “likeability.”
  4. Do your homework. Don’t shy away from asking as many questions as you deem necessary. Some of my favourites are: How long has the coach been practicing? Who is their preferred client group? What development objectives do they specialize in? How much do they charge per hour? What are their expectations of you as a coachee? What do they commit to as your coach?
  5. Ensure your prospective coach is asking you questions. If they aren’t, they likely aren’t too concerned with finding the right “fit”, and might be preoccupied with finding the next client.

We frequently hear that “fit” is the most important aspect of a coaching relationship. Invest the time upfront to find a coach who meets your needs; who provides a supportive relationship while also holding you accountable to change. This is what being a great coach is all about.

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