New Year’s resolutions? Find a good coach!

The New Year approacheth! And probably more so than we have been in ages, most of us will be glad to see the back of the year – 2020 has not been easy! Right now, ‘tis the season to be jolly… but soon, ‘twill be the season for making resolutions… our habitual grand statements of how we’re going to take full advantage of the calendar’s fresh start and really do something in the coming year.

But…we all know that new year’s resolutions tend to have a short life expectancy (all those wasted gym memberships!). According to YouGov statistics, around three-quarters of resolutions fail, partially or totally.

So what to do? Reboot your Fitbit for yet another year? Throw yourself into ‘No-Sugar January’ once more? Or focus on an area of your life with more of a practical support structure to hold you to your objectives: work and career?

Resolutions tend to fail due to poor goal-setting, a lack of accountability, and/or insufficient support. If you’re determined to achieve more at work in 2021, getting a coach is one way to address all those issues. But (and this is the big ‘but’) how do you choose the right coach for you?

Be clear about why you need a coach

Ask yourself, what do you want to achieve? Are you looking to fulfil your current role more effectively, improve your results (or your team’s),  get a promotion, or is it a wholesale change of job or career? Put another way, is your focus on skills, performance, development, or transformation? Before you start looking at who’s out there and what they can offer, you need a clear idea of where you want coaching to take you.

What makes a good coach?

A good coach offers:

  • A clear, structured process – whether it’s the classic GROW model (Goal, Reality, Options, Way forward), the more recent OSCAR (Outcome, Situation, Choices & Consequences, Action, Review) or something more specialised, your potential coach should be able to talk you through the process they’ll use to steer you towards your desired outcome(s).
  • Confidentiality – a coach should offer the equivalent of a ‘doctor-patient’ relationship; what’s discussed in a coaching session stays in a coaching session (unless you admit to stealing from the company or some other criminal activity; then they may have a responsibility to disclose!)
  • Examples of success – while everyone has to start somewhere, you’re going to feel a lot more comfortable if your coach can cite a few past clients who’ve achieved some significant goals as a result of their coaching intervention.

In addition, a great coach has a range of core soft skills:

  • unconditional positive regard (they help lift you up not put you down);
  • an empathic understanding (they know where you’re coming from);
  • congruence (they ‘practice what they preach’).

What about qualifications?

There are dozens (maybe even hundreds) of courses and certificates on offer to those who want to become coaches, how do you know which certifications are worth the paper they’re printed on? A good start is affiliation to the International Coach Federation (ICF), the only independent, globally-recognised accrediting organisation for coaches. Anyone with credentials from the ICF has completed its stringent education and experience requirements and has demonstrated a strong commitment to excellence in coaching. What’s more, it carries a strong code of ethics.

Avoid these common mistakes

In our experience, these are the three most common mistakes when choosing a coach:

  • Your coach needs to have done the job/role you’re aiming for and/or acquired the specific skills you’re looking to develop – it may be important for a mentor to exemplify your goal in that way, but a coach needs the process and skills to help you develop your way.
  • Industry experience = coaching usefulness – your coach is here to help you develop, not the business.
  • Ignoring the issue of chemistry – no matter how good a coach is on paper (qualifications, experience, etc.) unless the two of you have some sort of connection (it ‘feels right’) you’re unlikely to work well together.

NFL coach Tom Landry has been quoted as saying, ‘A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, and has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you can be.’

That sounds like someone who’ll help you stick to a new year’s resolution…


If you’re interested in how coaching could work for your or in your organisation, check out our coaching services; or get in touch on 01582 463461 – we’re here to help!

Categories: Coaching

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