The coaching industry is unregulated. This means that anyone, with any level of expertise can call themselves a coach or mentor. So in a world where everyone is a self-proclaimed guru, with a clique of followers adoring their master - how can you know who is able to REALLY help you and your set of needs?
In this article I will outline a few things that you can check out to ensure the person you’re hiring is not a self-serving business owner, but instead, someone who wants YOU to succeed. You will learn the different coaching types as well as what you should be watching out for, and how to vet your choices.
The last thing you need is to invest your hard earned dosh (good coaching is not cheap - usually) into a scam that is going to leave you resentful of hiring coaches that really can help you to make a difference with your business, life or career.
First things first - you need to know what kind of coach you need. These are different types of mentor and coach that you will find on social media and online. A coach can be one of OR a combination of all of these things.
Pure Coach - this is a coach who is usually registered with the International Coaching Federation (ICF) or an established coaching body that specialises in accrediting professional and ETHICAL coaches. Pure Coaches specialise in asking questions - NOT in giving answers. A pure coach is a great hire if you are struggling in making big decisions which require you to tune into your gut and take action from your lived experience. A Pure Coach is not a therapist.
Therapists focus on the past - whereas Pure Coaches will focus forwards on you making progress towards a goal.
Life Coach - this is the kind of coach that can get the most stick. Some coaches have moved away from calling themselves Life Coaches because of the amount of scams there are out there in the Life Coaching industry. There are some incredible life coaches though - and it’s worth persevering in your search if you are looking for someone to help you in all areas of your life. DO NOT hire a life coach if you are looking for someone to support you in your business.
Business Coach - this is someone who should have had formal training in Business Coaching or has run their own successful business.* More on finding out the truth about this later. They have demonstrated success in either their own business or in supporting the growth or scaling of someone else's (legitimate) business.
Business Mentor - A mentor gives answers and has ‘been there and done that.’ They can strategically talk you through step by step what you need to do in order to grow and scale your business. Some mentors will pick out mentees and work with them 1:1 for free (pro bono) and only take a cut of profits once the work the client and mentor have done together has yielded positive results.
3 Things to watch out for
Once you have decided what kind of coach and/ or mentor you need - you then need to watch out for a couple of key things that will show you how legitimately they can help you.
1- Making you dependent on them and their services
The aim of working with a coach or mentor should be that eventually you are able to do what you need to do without their support. You are building the resources and and of self to be successful on your own terms. However - more than once I have had clients come to me who have clearly been struggling because they have become dependent on their coach or mentor. They have to pay more to access a higher level of support or ‘unlock’ hidden knowledge. This is a HUGE red flag and critical for you to look out for.
2- Pricing and pyramid schemes (blind following the blind)
Look out for coaches and mentors who have lots of coaches and mentors underneath them. Sometimes you are sold time with a coach and you end up with someone completely different. This is in effect a pyramid scheme in the world of coaching. Unless each of the individuals in the organisation are trained in the coaching you need - stay well clear.
3- False Promises
Some coaches and mentors will promise the earth. The truth is THEY CAN’T. No one can guarantee leads, clients, revenue because there are far too many factors that will impact your success. If on a prospect call you are told that you are guaranteed success, run for the hills.
How to proof your choices
1- Companies House
You can look up any company director online through Companies House to see if they really are successful as a business owner and have worked with the number of clients they claim to have worked with. It’s a case of a simple search here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/companies-house
Not all accreditations are born equal. Take the time to delve deep into the qualifications your coach or mentor says they have. There are companies that dish out qualifications for 2 hours of training to be a life coach. This is a BIG NO-NO. Qualified coaches should have a minimum of 10 hours supervised hours as well as a number of hours certified training. Don’t be afraid to go deep here. The more you know the better.
It’s probably no surprise to you having read this article, that some coaches and mentors have made up testimonials. Trust Advisor reviews that are purchased and followers from an engagement pod. (Groups of networkers who all like and share one another's posts regardless of content or meaning.) Google reviews are the most likely to be real as they have to be verified - but even then you need to be careful. My advice is to pick out a number of the reviews either on LinkedIn or Google and privately get in touch with those people. If they truly loved working with the coach / mentor they will be more than happy to share that with you. Equally - if not, they'll likely share the full scoop.
Questions to ask a testimonial person:
- What was happening before you were working with X?
- What is your situation like now?
- What practical support were you given?
- What kind of person should work with (insert name of coach / mentor)
- I’m looking to (insert your goal here) do you think X would be right for me?
Excellent practices in coaching and mentoring
- Giving you time to make a decision about if you work with them or not
- A clear explanation of how they feel they can help you
- Asking you LOTS of questions about what you hope to achieve and if they feel it is realistic or not.
- Showing a desire to give you independence and build your toolkit so that you are not reliant on them to succeed.
I hope this has been a helpful insight into how you will go about choosing your coach / mentor. Remember - trusting your gut is helpful, BUT there is so much more you can find out if you just take the time to look deeper.
This article was written by Lucienne Shakir (MEd. MAC PCC) a registered, accredited ICF coach and Business Mentor to female founders building brilliant businesses. Her vision is equality in entrepreneurship and at the moment she is focussing on providing women in business with coaching and mentoring through a philanthropic community called The Collective. She works with Female Founders around the world in High Performance coaching, has an 11 year old autistic son and is a survivor of clinical, chronic depression which saw her leave her profession over 10 years ago.