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How to Choose a Coach

Or a music teacher? I’ve recently been looking for a voice/singing/theater coach for my 10-year-old daughter and I observed three things:

  1. There are many similarities between hiring a career coach and a theater coach

  2. Different coaches are entirely different

  3. Fit matters – figure out what you need, meet with a few coaches, and find which one best fits you!

It’s more entertaining to talk about hiring a theater coach than a career coach, and it’s also easier to see the dramatic difference. Here are the three theater/voice/singing coaches we interviewed:

Grandma See Ya Tomorrow

Style: She was enthusiastic and lovely.

Pro: She was wonderful in getting my daughter to want to learn, to show up, to sing, and to find joy.

Con: However, she wasn’t instructing. She let my d­aughter sing however she wanted.

Credibility: She knew piano and singing and had a lot of experience with kids.

Pricing: The kicker was her pricing structure. It was about 30% higher than other instructors we saw. She priced her services as a year-long commitment. It was a potentially great way to get students to commit, however, we only met 9 months of the year and the pricing was the same per month even if we met 2x a month or 5x (depending on her schedule). It was expensive!

Decision: We decided not to move ahead because of the price - the all-or-nothing nature, the lack of transparency, and the lack of a clear instructional path. However, I’m not sure if this was the right choice because my daughter loved her. I believe there is value in chemistry, but in the end, the budget won out.

The Theater Nut

Style: She was a theater nut and that is pretty self-explanatory. She was captivating, dramatic, regal, energetic, and unique.

Pro: She had my daughter on the floor doing yoga, jumping on the sofa, and playing games with her voice and her body and her entire being. She made you feel that with her in your corner there was nothing you couldn’t do. You could get any part. You could be as captivating as she is!

Con: She was a little further away from us and may have been offering us more than what we were ready for. She may be a better fit to prepare for an audition than general studies. It reminded me that many clients hire coaches to prep for an interview but don’t do the work upfront to figure out who they are and what they want.

Credibility: She was a real actress. A real theater person.

Pricing: She was comparable to other music/theater instructors. Her sessions were an hour vs. 30 minutes which is also a great fit for us.

Decision: She is our back up plan and will try her next!

The Purist

Style: I was a movie star in the 1930s. I won’t teach you to sing until you learn how to play the piano because that is the way it is. You have to know the music. You must be classically trained.

Pro: Expertise

Con: She was a little out of touch. Music instruction has evolved and can play a different role in the lives of children. Some will be musicians, some want to have fun, and some will be a blend. She seemed to see things as static.

Credibility: She was an expert. No question.

Pricing: She was comparable to other music/theater instructors. She was also month-to-month which was attractive.

Decision: We decided to start with her mostly because we wanted to get some piano in quickly and she was available. However, after about 2.5 months we decided to end our relationship with her. She didn’t really get to know my child and didn’t meet her where she was. My daughter said to me, “I don’t think she knows that I can’t read music.”

What You Want vs. What You Think You Should Want

From a coaching perspective, we made a content decision and then had to backtrack. The “Grandma See Ya Tomorrow” and “The Theater Nut” were a better fit. I made a decision based on what I thought we should want because we hadn’t done the work to sort through what the client wanted. From a leadership coaching perspective, this happens all the time when HR or upper management tries to hire a coach for a more junior VP or Director. The coachee has to be involved in the decision or a great content decision will wither.

Analogy To Leadership And Career Coaching

Filter first by expertise. But don’t discount fit, energy, and how your coach makes you feel. “The Theater Nut” and the “Grandma See Ya Tomorrow” made my daughter feel something. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your coach.

For every client that said, Tracy had some great tools in decision making, the development plan, the personality assessments and she has real experience in tech - 10 more clients have said they valued me because they looked forward to meeting with me every week and that I provided energy and inspiration. Change is difficult and having the right partner increases your success rate.

Perhaps those who liked to train with “Grandma See Ya Tomorrow” every week are not the same ones who want to train with "The Purist". Figure out which one you are and which one they are.

Interview the coach for as long as you need. And don’t be afraid to change your mind. Coaching agreements should be short enough to make changes but long enough to get past the initial resistance. You owe it to yourself. But make no mistake, you are looking for what is right for you.

A Few Good Things To Consider

Does the coach:

  • inspire you

  • give you energy

  • have reliable tools and exercises

  • have your best interests at heart

  • show up fully

  • have experience in your field

  • prioritize your growth

  • inspire you to take bold action

  • listen for what is not being said

  • make you laugh when laughing is difficult

  • respond to your agenda.

You’ve Got This!

Come interview me! I am offering a free Career BOOST coaching session that will provide tools for you to get what you want so you can continue to move up (or move on!). Use the link below ⬇️ to schedule your FREE Career Boost Session ⬇️

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