Thinking about hiring a coach? If so, no doubt, you are asking yourself, “Who is the right coach for me?” There is no one-size-fits-all answer to your question. Sometimes a specialist is the preferred solution and other times a coach who is a generalist may be the order of the day.
Is it Okay to Have Both a Generalist and a Specialist Coach?
Let us pretend you are wanting to improve your golf game. When I think of learning the game of golf, I see two different approaches you might take. In one scenario, you collaborate with a generalist pro who comes with a proven success record in teaching golf. Your starting point is your overall game isolating techniques and strategies for practice. As your awareness builds, your strengths and weaknesses become more clearly identified. As a generalist, this coach is prepared to support you as you work on developing improvement across the gamut of skills involved in playing the game. In the generalist framework, you might review long drives one week, and your club selection skills in another.
In the case of hiring a golf coach who is a specialist, you choose the focus of your coaching program in advance. Will that be your long game, short game, inner (intuitive) game or your psychological game, fitness, or diet? You choose your growth path as a golfer. You might, in fact, hire a putting coach for a few months and then move on to hiring a coach to help you improve your game/course management strategies.
A succession of coaches supporting you from the generalist in the beginning to a strategic variety of specialists to address each critical piece of learning the complex game of golf may be a natural progression for you to take. It is not uncommon to move from generalist coaching to specialist and back to generalist. No matter which coach you decide upon, frank discussions, staged practice individualized according to your targets, and immediate feedback might be your most effective way of learning.
Two Approaches to Coaching
The two basic approaches to coaching are templated and individualized—be the coaching on site or remote. Think of templated coaching as curriculum-based training and think of individualized coaching as needs-based. Curriculum-directed coaching to foster improvement can be wide-ranging in areas like leadership or narrow as in communication skills focussed on difficult conversations.
When you choose templated coaching, you could be purchasing a premade system that takes clients through a lock-step approach complete with pre-recorded videos and accompanying worksheets not unlike taking a course. This type of change work has several advantages. It can be completed online at the client’s discretion and pace. Monitoring of progress is simple and requires little supervision. Everyone learns the same material. Note that some templated coaching programs have a hybrid feature with opportunities for participants to individually meet with a coach from time to time. In addition, companies that provide this type of coaching tend to gather statistics regarding the efficacy of the intervention. In some cases, templated coaching is offered in groups.
When you choose individualized one-on-one coaching, your sessions may more resemble a conversation. Conversations may be directed by the client or the coach according to the hot topic of the day. When working with clients, a generalized coach with a background in psychology may be more prepared to discuss a wide berth of challenges that include workplace relationships, family concerns, time management, staff evaluation, goal setting, staff engagement, advancement, productivity, absenteeism, performance culture and communication.
The professional coach is comfortable tailoring each situation to the concerns that are current and present—be it with individuals or teams. Engagement is high. Everyone comes with their own strengths and their own preparedness to commit to change.
Who is the Best Coach for You?
Would a generalist coach or a specialist coach be more suited to your needs? That’s the first question. The second question is, “Would you prefer to work with a predetermined program package or have an individualized development session privately with your coach?” Your choice depends on what you hope to achieve . . . on whether you want to be super-focussed on a highly specific topic such as scaling your enterprise or expanding your market share, or . . . if you are wanting to work with someone who can address your big picture ideas alongside your little picture solutions.
My recommendation? Formulate questions to ask your prospective coach. Your questions might begin as follows:
- What is your record for (list your objectives in this question)?
- How do you…? Inquire about your specific concern such as confidentiality.
- Tell me about your coaching process.
- What is one of your favourite success stories?
- What training have you had to be a coach?
Compare the answers to the findings in your due diligence. It is important to check out the comments previous clients have made regarding their experience. You may want to contact several of them.
Is having a coach for you? Are you the kind of person who likes to solve problems aloud? Would a professional listener make a difference? Reviews and testimonials from previous users will help inform you of the value that your future coach may contribute to your enterprise. Here’s to your successful coaching experience.
Donna Dahl, M. Ed., MNLP, is a leading executive strategist and catalyst for change. Through her neuroscience-based coaching, she is well-poised to disseminate skill development, empowerment, and engagement. Donna has an award-winning track record, and she is the author of Lessons I Learned from the Tortoise, a five-star rated book designed to challenge the reader to consider mindful change.