Finding the ‘right fit’ coach for YOU is important, and I highly recommend you do some research to find a coach who best suits your needs.

 Each coach will have a unique style, methods, or tools. In addition to having a coach to help you move towards your goals, it’s important to find someone you can trust, be open, vulnerable, and honest with. 

Your coach will be someone who helps you explore new ground that may feel uncomfortable from time to time (you’ll be transported into growth zones!). It’s good to have a coaching space where there is no judgement, full acceptance of who you are, and full acceptance of your beliefs and uniqueness. Yet, the coach also provides some challenge and stretch when you want it.

Lots of coaches offer a no-commitment ‘chemistry call’ to help you determine whether the coaching partnership is a good fit for both of you.

Below is a list of helpful questions you can ask when exploring your options for coaching.

1. Is coaching what I’m after, or is it something else?

Be clear about what coaching is and isn’t (i.e. it’s not counselling, mentoring or consulting).  It’s good to know the difference between these specialisms and make sure you get what you’re looking for. 

I have a simplistic ‘bike analogy’ way of describing the difference between coaching and other specialisms. 

Counselling: when did you get hurt on your bike, and how did it make you feel? 

Mentoring: this is how I ride a bike; try what I do. 

Consulting: this is what is wrong with your bike riding; follow my recommendations for improvement. 

Coaching: Where do you want to go? How would you like to get there?

Sometimes, people (especially those who haven’t had proper coaching before) can get confused about what coaching is about). I really like the International Coaching Federation’s (ICF) definition of coaching:

ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential. Coaching is a client-driven process.

Antonia’s answer: I offer coaching and mentoring services to clients. I am very deliberate about which ‘hat’ I wear on what occasion. Sometimes, clients who’ve hired me for coaching might ask for some mentoring advice from time to time, as I may have been in a similar situation to theirs. As long as we’re both deliberate about ‘hat wearing’, I’m cool with that. In essence, as a coach, I’ll have some great questions for your answers; as a mentor I’ll have some great answers for your questions.

2. What qualifications or accreditations do you have, and how do you invest in your own professional development?

Coaching is not a legally regulated profession in most places, so you’ll want to check whether a prospective coach has had proper training and holds relevant certifications (and these are up-to-date). Many people out there define themselves as professional coaches, but they have not had adequate training or hold reliable credentials. 

Coaches should invest in their own professional development in several ways to stay relevant and current, enhance their skills, and provide high-quality services to their clients. By continuously learning and growing, coaches can better serve their clients and contribute to the advancement of the coaching profession.

You can ask any prospective coach how they invest in their own professional development.  

  • Are they a member of a professional coaching association or organisation (one that sets standards for education, training and ethical practices)?
  • What are they doing for continuing education and training? 
  • Do they have their own coach? 
  • Do they get mentor coaching and supervision?

Antonia’s Answer: I hold a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) accreditation with the International Coaching Federation (ICF), and I am a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach. I invest a lot (both time and money) in my own professional development every year.  I find it so worth it, not only for my own continuous growth and self-development but also I believe that my clients deserve to get the very best I can offer if they’re going to invest in me.

3. Who is your ideal client? 

You can ask any prospective coach to describe who their ideal client is.  Is this the kind of persona you align with yourself? You can also ask what type of coaching area they mostly work in (e.g. Executives, Life, Leadership, Relationship, Career, Faith).

    Antonia’s Answer: My ideal clients are managers and leaders, often working in the public sector, who are in midlife stages or going through career transitions. They are coachable individuals who want to grow both personally and professionally. They have a keen desire to lean in, experiment with new approaches, discover their full potential, and challenge themselves to reach new heights. These clients are open-minded, eager to learn, and committed to their personal and professional development. They understand the value of coaching and are willing to invest time and effort into the process, trusting that it will help them achieve their goals and unlock their full potential.

    4. What coaching philosophies or approaches do you draw on? 

    Coaches may draw from several different coaching philosophies and approaches.  Some of the leading coaching philosophies include non-directive, positive psychology, solutions-focused, cognitive behavioural, narrative, ontological, integral, transformational, somatic, mindfulness-based, growth mindset and goal-oriented coaching.  Understanding their methodology will help you determine if their approach aligns with your needs and preferences.

      Antonia’s Answer: I’m a fan of positive psychology coaching – especially in the arena of strengths. One of my favourite tools is the CliftonStrengths® assessment – it’s like a fast track in helping clients discover what they’re really good at. It also unlocks a language we can use together in our coaching sessions in ways to apply strengths or manage weaknesses in goals that a client wants to achieve. 

      I’m a huge fan of non-directive coaching and ICF Core Competencies. Non-directive coaching methods and open questioning help enable a creative process in clients to process and own their own journey and inspire them to live to their potential. There’s lots of neuroscientific evidence via brain scans and the like, which shows that non-directive coaching methods illuminate many more parts of the brain than other forms of coaching.

      5. Do you specialise in specific areas or industries?

      Do you want a coach that has expertise in the areas where you also work? Or has experience with clients in your specific situation or industry?  Or would you prefer someone who brings a uniquely different context, i.e., the less they know about your context or your competitors, the better questions they may ask to get you thinking outside the box and more creatively yourself?

        Antonia’s Answer: The majority of my clients are leaders and managers from New Zealand public sector agencies (predominantly due to my 25-year career background in the public sector). I’ve also coached small businesses, corporate clients, faith-based communities, and even parenting and local community groups. 

        6. Can you provide me with references or testimonials from past clients?

        Former clients can give you a sense of the coach’s effectiveness and the results they’ve helped others achieve. Look for valid, written testimonials, and you could always ask a coach to seek permission from their existing clients to get in touch and talk with you about their experiences.

           Antonia’s Answer: Check out testimonials from my clients here: https://antoniamilkop.com/what-my-clients-say.  And I’d be happy to put you in touch with any of my existing or former clients if you want to chat with them more about their experience (I’d of course need to seek their permission first to share their contact details with you).

          7. What’s the process for scheduling sessions, and do we meet face-to-face or virtually?

          Does the coach’s availability align with your own schedule, and is the process for booking sessions convenient for you? What’s the duration of each session?  How many sessions do you want, and how frequently do you want to have them? 

          Would you prefer to meet in 3D, face-to-face with a coach, over a good cup of coffee? Or perhaps you’d find yourself opening up more during virtual coaching in the privacy of your own home? There are a lot of benefits to virtual coaching (this article on the pros of virtual experiences for leaders was written a number of years ago before virtual became a more popular thing).  What space enables you to get your best thinking done and enables you to be resourceful and creative? Don’t forget you have a global pool of qualified coaches available to you if you meet virtually; you don’t just have to look in your local area – you can find excellent coaches around the world. 

            Antonia’s Answer: I have an online calendar https://calendly.com/antoniamilkop/coaching showing real-time availability, which you can book as many sessions in advance as you like, and state whether you prefer virtual (Zoom) or face-to-face (please state location). 

            It doesn’t matter where you are in the world as long as the time-zone suits you!  I too have used coaches for myself in the UK, Australia, Switzerland and the US! I have also run a coaching practice (virtually) from France for a year with clients in NZ!

            8. What are your fees, and what is included in your coaching package?

            Average fees for a coaching session can vary widely. According to the 2023 ICF Global Coaching Study, the average fee for a one-hour coaching session was USD 244 (NZD 400) in NZ, Australia, UK, and Western Europe (and slightly higher in North America at USD 272). You can ask if there are different packages or pricing options available and if they offer payment plans. Coaches may have differential rates for corporate clients versus not-for-profits, and some coaches even offer pro-bono coaching sessions.

            Antonia’s Answer: I offer coaching packages from one-off coaching sessions to a longer term coaching relationship. Please get in touch with me to discuss your budget and needs and we can work through how I can best support you. If you don’t want to commit too much upfront, you can always opt for having two coaching sessions to start with and then upgrade to a coaching package depending on your goals and what you want to achieve throughout our coaching relationship.

            9. Do we need an agreement or contract?

            Coaches should have a formal agreement or contract with their clients. This agreement establishes the coaching relationship and will include identifying the client’s responsibilities, clarifying the roles and expectations of both parties, defining terms of confidentiality, determining applicable fees, and defining any other terms and conditions.

            Antonia’s Answer: I will provide a Coaching Agreement for you to review and sign.  These provides clarification regarding the coaching relationship between us, expectations and commitments of all parties and preserves the integrity of the relationship.

            10. Do I have to have specific goals in mind before I embark on coaching?

            While having specific goals defined can be helpful, you don’t necessarily need them before starting a coaching process. This is what the exploratory phase of coaching is about: using reflective exercises and questions to help you reach your goals and gain new self-awareness and perspectives.

            Antonia’s Answer: I will send through a ‘pre-coaching questionnaire’ before we embark to help get you thinking more creatively about the coaching journey ahead.

             If you don’t have specific goals in mind, that’s totally fine – we can work out what they are during our exploratory phase when we first get together. If you do already have some goals in mind, that’s great – do feel free to share them with me before we meet. 

            Bonus Question!

            Do I have to be in the same location as my coach?

            Antonia’s Answer: No!

            I happen to live in Wellington, NZ but I work with clients across the globe and can communicate by email, scheduled calls and Zoom meetings. I am based in Wellington, NZ and love meeting up face-to-face but also equally happy online. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world as long as the time-zone suits you!  I too have used coaches for myself in the UK, Australia, Switzerland and the USA! I have also run a coaching practice (virtually) from France for a year with clients based in NZ.