Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid: 12 Questions to Ask BEFORE Hiring Your Next Coach or Consultant
I recently posted the above quote on my Facebook page because I’ve heard way too many stories lately of people who spend good money on a coach, consultant, product, service, etc., and then get crap back. Poor results. Unkept promises. No accountability. And understandable frustration. This, after they’ve invested a ton of money they’ll probably never see another penny of again.
If this sounds like you, then you’ve probably experienced being sold on what looks like a great product or service for the value. You paid your invoices on time, expecting life-changing results; did everything you were told to do; and then waited and waited for what you were promised, and it never showed up—at least not in direct proportion to what you paid. You drank the Kool-Aid.
Now you’re just tired. Tired of throwing good money after bad. Tired of seeing all these success stories and not being one of them. Tired of being promised the earth, the moon and the stars—and then only getting glitter in a bottle.
I know: I’ve been there.
My Experience With Coaches
When I hired my first coach, I had no idea what I was looking for; I just knew I needed some guidance to get unstuck in my life, and this person promised to be able to deliver it. She sounded good. Seemed to have all her stuff together. And looked like she was capable of helping me figure out what to do next in my life in order to get out of my rut and into my purpose. After working with her for a few weeks, I realized she probably needed more coaching (and therapy) than I did… No bueno.
On to the next coach. This one was actually great. She helped me gain clarity around what my business should be and how to visualize what I wanted in both my life and business. She was the first person to teach me creative visualization. And what a powerful thing that was! I worked with her for about four months until I realized I had probably learned everything I was going to learn from her and it was time to just implement. I thanked her and went on my way to successfully use the tools she had provided. We’re still in touch to this day.
I worked with two other coaches after that one—both served different purposes but did not provide the same value. One was very strategic in his approach and held me accountable. Every Friday, we had a check-in. I knew that I better have some progress to report for all the money I was paying him (even if I did wait until Thursday night to get it done!). He was actually the one who ended the coaching relationship when he looked at the objectives we had set out to meet and realized that we had met them.
The next one, I loved her dearly, but she wasn’t meant to be a coach. Our $95/hr. sessions turned into discussions about everything under the sun but what I had come there for—guidance to take things in my life to the next level. I ended that coaching relationship with the resolve to figure the rest out on my own using the tools I had gained from all my other coaches and mentors.
What I Learned
I learned along the way, that in order for a coach to be effective, you have to be willing and ready to do the work. You can’t blame a lack of results on your coach if you’re not implementing. I also learned that there are some great coaches (and consultants) out there, but you have to do a lot of digging to find the really good ones—especially since the barriers to entry into the industry are so low. Referrals are usually the best way to go.
I lob coaches and consultants together into the same category because they are both are supposed to help you do the same thing: become more productive, focused, and successful as an individual or as a business. They’re supposed to help you locate and troubleshoot your blind spots. They’re supposed to provide an alternative point of view and wield their problem-solving prowess to take you to the next level. They’re supposed to provide concrete guidance to help you improve in the areas you’ve both identified as key in your road map to transformation. They’re supposed to help you deliver results.
But I’ve come to understand that many self-professed expert coaches and consultants are less about results, and more about making things sound and look really good (if I see one more YouTube ad telling me I can live my dream life if I just buy their program :/ ). They’ve got all the right sales language, photos with the right people, a snazzy wardrobe, and seemingly just look like they’ve got it all going on. But as we’ve all come to know, social media can make you look like just about anything you to look like online—whether or not, as a coach or consultant, you really can deliver the goods in real life.
So how do you discern the good from the bad?
First and foremost, stop being seduced by all the splash, flash and dash of social media. Anyone can design a story about themselves that looks good online, but what’s really happening when you pull back that curtain?
Here’s a list of 12 questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not to make that investment in your personal and/or professional growth:
1. Do you frequently hear or see other people speak positively of their experience with that person?
2. Are there any success stories or results (show me the receipts!) you can easily attribute to the person?
3. Have you checked their references or reviews?
4. How much experience does that person have in what they say they are an expert in (or are you their on-the-job training)?
5. Do they follow up when they say they’re going to?
6. Do they clearly outline what their goals and objectives are with you?
7. Do they overdeliver and underpromise or is there always an excuse as to why something hasn’t gotten done yet? (This is called accountability—or a lack thereof.)
8. What does your gut tell you about them?
9. Do they address your concerns in a way that is satisfactory to you?
10. Do they practice what they preach?
11. Do their values align with your own?
12. Do they take the time to ask you the right questions so they can deliver what you really need?
I hope asking these questions will be a guideline for making sure you’re investing your money wisely. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled by appearances—that Kool-Aid may taste good, but you’ll eventually find it has no nutritional value. Instead, take the time to fully vet anyone you’re investing money in to help you and/or your business grow so that you get the return on your investment you deserve.
Now I want to hear from you! What other tips would you give for hiring the right coach or consultant?