Happy New Year

I have the sense of new beginnings twice a year: once in January and again at the beginning of September.  This is the time of year when the new arts seasons begin, when everyone offers their best back-to-school bargains, and many of us experience the overwhelming urge to sharpen pencils. As we begin our unofficial new year, some of us have had vacations away from work or, in other cases, a slower summer season.  We contemplate cleaning off our desks (in case we need a place for the newly sharpened pencils), working differently, signing up for a new class, or looking for a new job.  I’ve found these transitional moments to be the ideal times to work with a coach.  Whether you want to reexamine your professional strengths, consider a new career path, or strategize about new challenges – the right coach can make all the difference. However, I’ve discovered that folks often aren’t sure what to look for in a coach and how to choose the person who will be most helpful for them. Here are my suggestions for choosing a coach:

1. Decide whether you want coaching face-to-face or by phone.  The advantage to coaching by phone is that it’s usually easier to schedule and you can choose the coach that’s the best fit for you regardless of where either of you live.  The advantage of face-to-face coaching is that some people find they can understand each other more quickly and easily.  I prefer to do coaching by phone because I have found that it allows people to be less self-conscious and therefore more frank.

2. Make sure that you are compatible in terms of style. Most coaches offer a free get-to-know you session.  Ask them to talk about how they work.  Think about what you most need (gentle, firm, tough, etc.).  Be honest with yourself.  Trust your instincts.

3. Make sure that you are also comfortable with the coach.  You need to be able to communicate easily with them.  You will be wasting both your time and money with this person unless you are able to be open and honest with them.

4. If you don’t know them, check their references.  Ask to communicate with someone they have coached.

5. Consider their background.  In addition to their coaching skills, if you want a coach to help you improve your career or get a new job, ask them how well they know your field. I also think it’s important to ask them about the coaching they have received.  Coaches who have never been coached may be less able to understand both sides of the coaching relationship.

I hope that’s helpful.  However you decide to celebrate –  Happy New Year!