Maybe you shouldn’t hire a coach…

  • Article
  • 6 January 2021

There are times when you shouldn’t hire a coach.

That may sound strange. As a coach, I strongly believe in the value of professional coaching and have seen the results with my clients. Why wouldn’t I support hiring a coach?

It is important to know when hiring a coach may not be the best option for you. There is no reason to make the investment if you won’t get maximum benefits from the process. There are a number of situations where coaching is not effective and does not add value

When are those times?

  1. Someone has told you that you need a coach and you don’t agree. A leader may have recommended that you engage a coach to improve your performance. However, you believe that you have nothing to improve upon, may be in denial about the feedback you have received, or don’t accept the feedback at all. Embarking on a coaching relationship when you don’t believe you need to, is challenging for both the client and the coach. In exceptional cases, I’ve worked with clients who didn’t think they needed a coach, then after a few sessions realized that they DID have something to learn. In most cases, after a number of frustrating meetings that didn’t lead to action, the coaching relationship was terminated. If you aren’t ready, then the benefits to be reaped will be few and far between.
  2. You don’t want to change anything. When you’re happy with where you are in life – both personally and professionally – and don’t really want to change anything, coaching is not recommended. It only works for people who believe that they need to change, and want to take action. If you don’t want to change the status quo, don’t spend your money on a coach.
  3. You’re not committed to taking action. There are people who believe in coaching and realize that they need to change, but either don’t want to or aren’t ready to take action. This type of person expects that the coach will do all the work for them, or believes that recognizing when change is required is enough to make the necessary adjustments. Neither yields results. Coaches are accountability partners to help clients achieve their goals, but do not take action on behalf of the client. The client needs to do the hard lifting. If you aren’t at a point where you are prepared to take action, a coach isn’t the right choice.
  4. You want advice on what you should do. Coaches are not advice providers. Coaches do facilitate a process that helps the client determine his or her own answers, but do not have magical advice that will be the answer to all of your concerns. If you want an expert to give you advice, hire a consultant or consult with someone whom you respect who will give you that.
  5. You’re in a “one last chance” situation and you’re not really committed to it. I call this remedial coaching. In most instances, company leaders have already decided to let the individual go, but to assuage their feelings of guilt, they decided on “one last try” and hire a coach to help that individual do better. They’re usually not expecting the person to step up and aren’t disappointed when s/he doesn’t. Typically, this does not yield positive results and the person is let go anyway. A coach definitely isn’t the answer to succeeding at your “one last chance”, but this does not mean that you couldn’t benefit from coaching to assist you with your transition or with a fresh start.
  6. When you are planning to leave the organization within a short period of time. Companies invest in coaching their people to support them in performing better. They also expect that it will increase loyalty to the company. Engaging a coach that is paid by the company, when you know that you are planning on leaving soon, is misrepresenting your intentions.
  7. You don’t want to be challenged. Coaches challenge clients’ beliefs, assumptions, judgements, and perceptions in order to stretch their comfort zones. Being in a coaching relationship should sometimes feel uncomfortable. If you’re not prepared for this, don’t hire a coach.
  8. You’re not prepared to make the investment. The investment in coaching is not just a financial one, it also includes an investment of time and resources. You will need to spend the time to prepare for coaching meetings, attend the meetings, and work on the commitments you have made to in order to be accountable yourself and to your coach. This is a case where the old saying ‘you get out what you put in’ applies.
  9. You want someone else to change. I can’t count the number of times that clients have talked about the people that they would like to see change. My question always is: “Who’s the only person you can control?” The answer always is: “Me.” I believe that when we change ourselves, we have an impact on others, and they may change as a result. But, it is not realistic to expect that others will change because we want them to.

Coaches strive to empower you to create your own customized solutions in such a way that you develop personally and as a leader through the process. It takes time, commitment, and motivation to reap the benefits of a coaching relationship. If you aren’t ready to put in the work, chances are it is not quite the right time for you to engage a coach.

What are some other situations in which you shouldn’t hire a coach? Would love to know.

If you’re interested in exploring leadership coaching and what it entails, please contact me at or 403.547.7900.

Dr. Wilma Slenders PhD, PCC

Dr. Wilma Slenders is a renowned change management facilitator, leadership coach, and strategic advisor for organizations of all sizes and industries. Her insights come from over 20 years of hands-on experience and thousands of hours of teaching, consulting on, planning, and executing long-term professional leadership strategies and organizational strategies.

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