How to choose a coach that is a good fit for you, and your charity
Why work with a coach?
Coaching can seem like a non-essential, nice to have. I have previously put off having coaching myself, thinking I can struggle through, especially when resources are tight (a scarcity of time or money). However, in my experience this is a false economy.
Coaching increases your awareness of what is going on for you and helps you identify and challenge assumptions, look at things from new perspectives and be kinder to yourself. It can help you explore challenging work relationships and have difficult conversations. It can help you identify your stress triggers and how best to manage them. In essence, coaching can enable you to work at your best and feel happier.
Therefore, coaching can be a really effective component of an organisation’s mental wellbeing provision for employees at all levels and for volunteers, including trustees.
Do you feel unsure, anxious or frustrated? Are you unsure how to find a way forward? Do you find yourself going around in circles trying to think things through? It could be time to find a coach!
Thinking about what you want to gain from coaching can help you decide if coaching is what you are looking for, or if you really want mentoring or training.
A useful question could be “If coaching is a success, what will you be feeling, doing, saying or achieving in the future that is different from now?”
If, to achieve your answer, you need to acquire technical knowledge that you do not currently have, it may be more appropriate to look for advice or training from an expert in that area. For example, if you need to understand legal implications of a decision or learn mindfulness techniques for stress reduction.
Where a coach can really add value, is if you want to identify what you really want, what will work for you and your organisation. Coaching from a systems perspective can help you consider what matters to all key stakeholders. Coaching is not about providing advice or telling you what to do. You are a resourceful, unique individual who will find your own answers. Coaches help you access your own wisdom, creativity and resourcefulness to make decisions and take action. Insights and clarity gained through coaching can help you respond effectively in future situations, not just those explored during coaching sessions.
How to choose a coach?
Once you’ve decided you want to work with a coach, how do you find one that will be a good fit for you, and potentially others in your organisation?
As coaching does not involve offering advice, it is not necessary for coaches to understand a client’s sector. However, sector knowledge can be helpful. As Chair of Trustees, I received coaching to help me develop in this new role and I wanted a coach with charity sector experience. Specifically, I wanted a coach who already understood the differing roles and responsibilities of trustees and management, and how the dynamics differ from other working relationships.
Similarly, I have coached neurodivergent clients who have been relieved to receive coaching from someone who understands neurodiversity. They had a similar desire to be understood without having to explain their context.
Useful factors to consider when choosing a coach therefore include:
- How important is it that your coach understands the context behind what you want to explore in coaching?
- The “chemistry” between you and potential to develop an effective coaching relationship. Do you feel like you can be open and honest with this person, that you will be heard without feeling judged?
- Their coaching expertise; do they have a coaching qualification, are they committed to ongoing professional development of their coaching skills, do they receive coaching supervision, what do previous coaching clients say in their testimonials?
- Do their proposed logistics match your needs and circumstances e.g., session frequency, duration, location (including face to face or remote)? If not, how much flexibility is there for you to design this together?
And finally, can you commit to attending the coaching sessions and to reflecting and taking action between sessions? Can you afford not to?
Written by Anna Whitehead
Anna is a qualified coach, with a diploma in Executive coaching. She coaches neurominorities and people experiencing stress and anxiety to help them be the best they can be at work. She is also keen to coach people who aim to make a positive difference for others through their work.
She has 15 years’ experience of working in local government, including roles where she worked closely with the NHS and charities. As chair of trustees of a grief and loss charity, she gained a greater insight into what it is like to work for a charity. Find out more at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-whitehead/
You can contact Anna:
By phone: 07488 491941
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org