3 Signs You Need to Fire Your Coach

A couple of weeks ago a speaker asked for my feedback on a speech she was working on with another coach, for a large event. We scheduled a phone session, and she had her coach on the line so we’d all be on the same page. When she was done with the read-through of her speech, it was pretty clear that she was way off the mark. Her speech lacked a clear purpose, her delivery was not suited for the audience she would be speaking to, and her organization was nebulous and disjointed. When she asked me what I thought, I was honest: “I’m not sure this speech is going to accomplish what you’re hoping for.”

Her coach immediately unmuted himself and went on the defense. He told me all the reasons why his speaker was brilliant, how her credentials spoke for themselves and that’s all the audience needed, and how delivery doesn’t matter anyway. He was more concerned with not hurting her feelings than in actually helping her write a deliver a phenomenal speech.  

When you hire a coach, it’s because you know you need help improving something, and if you could do it on your own then there would be no point in the coaching relationship. But sometimes things go awry in the relationship, and you may not be getting what you need from the coach. If you’re concerned that you may not be getting what you need from your coach, then consider 3 Signs You Need to Fire Your Coach:

1. The coach refuses to give you tough feedback

I see many coaches form close friendships with their clients, and then they slip into the role of cheerleader instead of coach. A great coach helps you become great by giving you the honest, constructive feedback you need to improve. But if your coach has moved into the cheerleader role, and refuses to help you grow through feedback, then they are no longer serving their purpose.

2. They’re trying to get you to be someone you’re not

A great coach works to help you be the absolute best version of yourself, and not a poor facsimile of someone else. But more than once I’ve seen a coach try to re-work a speaker’s speech so it fits their own style, or they try to get a trainer to use a signature exercise that works well for them, but may not necessarily translate well in someone else’s hands. This is most likely subconscious, after all, if we know something works well for us, why wouldn’t it work for someone else? But we all have unique strengths and style, and the best coach knows how to play it up and make them assets, rather than try to work them out of you.

3. You’re not improving

This is tough, because many skills take time to develop and improve upon. You shouldn’t expect overnight results, BUT it is reasonable to expect that after each session you’ll walk away with something, no matter how small, that you can use to help you improve. Make sure your coach knows your goals, and they’re addressing them in their work with you. If it’s been several weeks and you feel like you haven’t budged an inch, talk to your coach. Are they tracking your progress? Have you agreed on specific goals ahead of time? What obstacles are you both experiencing that are holding you back, and how can you address them? If there still isn’t any improvement after this, then it may be that it’s time to find a new coach.

If you’re struggling with your coaching relationship, take all of these points into consideration, but also do some deep introspection. Are you resistant to feedback? Are you applying what your coach is teaching you? Are you too caught up in trying to be someone else? Are you doing the work? Make sure you’re fully utilizing your coaching before you make any drastic decisions.

As for the speaker mentioned above, she revealed she’d been friends with her coach for years, and there was a good chance that was preventing him from giving her the help she needed. She ended up hiring a different coach to help her re-work her speech so she could accomplish her goals. Ultimately your goals are the most important thing when it comes to whether or not you should keep working with your coach.

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