If you’re choosing a business, executive, or career mentor (or even a life coach), there are some critical factors you need to consider to get the most out of your investment. Choosing the right mentor or coach could either be the best thing you ever did or result in a mediocre result that wastes your time and money (or that of your company’s). In rare cases the wrong choice could even be a disaster (e.g. poor advice at a pivotal time in your business/career/life).
The following steps will help ensure you select the right person plus get more out of the process:
Be as clear as you possibly can from the outset about the outcomes you are seeking. Write them down – what do you really want to achieve from the mentoring or business coaching relationship? Are your expectations realistic? What is your preferred way of learning? Do you quit or lose focus easily? The more you clarify your objectives (combined with an honest assessment of your existing strengths and weaknesses), the better the decision you are likely to make.
Meet with 2 or 3 prospective mentors/coaches prior to deciding. Any mentor or business coach worth their salt will be happy to meet in person for a free, no commitment, face-to-face chat over a coffee. It is imperative that the personal style and chemistry fits – it’s also critical that you feel the mentor has the ‘clout’ to make you accountable to the goals and actions you will commit to. Without the right chemistry, the relationship will not deliver what you seek – no matter how good the price, ‘program’ or IP may be. Do they have the depth of experience and insight to be able to really help you – your unique circumstances and industry? Have they achieved what you want to achieve, or similar (or more)? Can they keep a secret or be trusted with highly sensitive or commercial information? Do they mentor folks in competitive industries or even within your own firm – i.e. is there potential for a conflict of interest?If you’re in a remote area and you’re considering a long distance mentor/coaching relationship, always ask for a free Skype session (rather than phone). Then, always conduct the relationship proper via Skype rather than phone.
Program Structure – Do you prefer a set Program or do you want the sessions to be laissez-faire or focus on the ‘events of the day’ that are challenging you – or a combination thereof? How many sessions are they recommending and why? What is the duration of the sessions and are they scheduled on a fixed basis or ‘floating’. Where will the sessions be conducted? (they should always suit you). Are sessions available after hours or weekends if preferred (and do they cost more)?With a set Program you need to assess the strength (as best you can at that early stage) of the IP they use. You should ask them what psychometrics and assessment technologies (if any) they use. Ask them why the assessments they use are better than any others out there.
Investment – How much will it cost? Is it tax deductible? Are the fees payable per session or upfront (or some other configuration)? Will I be able to claim the GST (if in Australia). How many sessions are there, for how long? Do I have ad hoc interface/access to the mentor coach between the sessions and is this free?
Referees – Ask for 3 – i.e. their past clients. Ask these referees about the nature and duration of the their relationship with your potential mentor or coach. What were the mentor/coaches better points? What were the not so good aspects? What would they do differently next time, if anything? Was the Program duration appropriate? Did they achieve all they wanted? Was the mentor accessible and prompt in their responses?
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