Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Creating Exceptional Workplaces and Extraordinary Results
Roberta Matuson's Blog

When to Work with a Coach and How to Maximize That Experience


Coaching for Results

People often ask me if there’s an ideal time to work with a coach. Here’s what I tell them. There are certainly vital times when having a coach can make a huge difference. Here are some of those times:

  • You are preparing yourself for a promotion.
  • You need to adjust quickly to a new circumstance.
  • You have employees you find challenging to manage.
  • You find yourself working for a difficult boss.
  • You’ve been assigned to a new function, office, or even country that requires you to use skills you have barely developed.
    • You have a performance weakness that, left unattended, could spread and negatively impact other areas of your performance.

The next question I get asked is what should I be looking for when engaging a coach.Nowadays, it seems like just about everyone is a coach. So why not simply use the same coach your friend has been using? That may be fine, but before doing so, make sure your needs are the same and that this coach is the right fit for you. Here are some other things to look for in a coach:

  1. Does his or her experience make the grade?

I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want someone coaching me on how to successfully do my first jump out of a plane if he or she hasn’t already done it at least a dozen times! The same holds true when selecting a coach in business. A life coach might be great for your cousin who has decided to reenter the workforce after a leave of absence, but may not be appropriate for you if you’re looking to learn how to become a more effective leader. You need someone who has been in the trenches and has successfully led people.

2. Do your styles match?

You need to be comfortable showing this person who you truly are, and at times hearing some difficult feedback. Some coaches are known to be direct, while others take a softer approach. Knowing which style you prefer will enable you to find someone with whom you can work successfully.

3. Is he or she willing to give you a trial period?

It’s difficult to really know if your personalities will click until you begin working together. That’s why it’s important to make sure whoever works with you is agreeable to a trial period. Note: this does not mean you are entitled to a full refund should you decide partially through the engagement that you are not compatible.This simply means you have an out clause in case you need to go your separate ways.

4. Has he or she successfully helped others in similar situations?

What does his or her track record look like? Find out how long your potential coach has been working with people, and in what capacity. Be careful not to get too caught up in specifics, though. An excellent coach who previously helped a new manager in a manufacturing company strengthen his relationships with senior management can certainly do the same for you, even if you work in retail.

5. Is he or she available?

Finding a wonderful coach or mentor won’t do you much good if he or she does not have the time to help you. Before you enter into a relationship, clearly define your needs and ask the person whether or not your expectations are realistic given his or her other commitments.

You may also want to consider the person’s official credentials, but don’t get too hung up on this. I’m often asked if a coach without certification is worth considering. In the interest of full disclosure, I do not have a coaching certification, yet I have effectively coached people for over twenty years. Find someone who can demonstrate that he or she has achieved similar successes, and don’t worry about the three letters that may or may not be assigned to his or her name. When you’ve identified someone you like, check references. If they match what you have observed, proceed. It’s that simple.

© Matuson Consulting, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

People have been reaching out to me, after viewing my new Lynda/LinkedIn Learning courses on Managing Up and Transitioning from Individual Contributor to Manager, asking me how we might work together. Below you’ll find a special LinkedIn offering that I’ve put together in response to those requests.

Special LinkedIn Offer: I’m starting two new group coaching programs that will begin in July. The first will be restricted to new leaders (those with less than 3 years experience.) I’ll take up to 15 people. We’ll meet virtually for an hour, twice a month for three months. The fee to join is $2,500, which separates those who are serious about improving their leadership skills and those who aren’t. Write to me at and tell me about yourself, so we can determine if you’re right for the Suddenly in Charge® Coaching program.

The Probable Promotions Coaching Program is for experienced leaders who are interested in boosting their effectiveness as a leader and securing their next promotion. The next program begins in July. This program will be limited to 10 people to ensure everyone has adequate air time. We’ll meet virtually for an hour twice a month. We’ll discuss real-time issues that are holding you back, as well as strategies to ensure you’re top of mind when the next promotion becomes available. Included will be unlimited access to me via phone and email. An option for a half-day immersion session will be offered for those looking to super charge their leadership skills. The fee for the Probable Promotions Coaching Program is $5,000 for three months, $8,500 for those selecting the immersion option.

Contact me at to secure your place.

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