The Difference Between Good and Bad Coaching

The Difference Between Good and Bad Coaching

Good and Bad Coaching: How Can You Spot The Difference?


Good and bad coachingTelling the difference between good and bad coaching is, in some part, subjective. There are many different types of coaching styles and approaches out there. You can choose from performance coaches, existential coaches, narrative coaches, even CBT coaches. What’s more, some coaches may stick to the “pure” coaching approach. They will say little and only interject questions now and again designed to elicit the answer and solution from within you. Others will also bring in motivational interviewing, mentoring and even counselling if the moment warrants it and they’re equipped.

Define What You Want


The first step is merely acknowledging that what really matters is good and bad coaching for the coachee and what they want to get out of it. Having a strong end goal in mind isn’t always necessary. It’s perfectly possible to just explore an issue in the hope of understanding it or yourself better. But it’s wise to have an idea of where you want to go and how you’d like to approach the subject. That said, there are ways to spot a coach who perhaps puts themselves top of the agenda,  or is more of a mentor or counsellor. Here are some of the ways I would differentiate between good and bad coaching…

Good Coach Versus Bad Coach


A good coach will explain what will happen during your time together. They will go through the business side of how long the sessions are and boundaries that you will work within.  A bad coach will leave these fuzzy. You’re never quite sure how long you’re getting or whether you are following a specific process or just meandering.

A good coach will let you speak and allow you to be silent. They may interrupt to challenge if you’ve said something important they want to focus upon. However, they won’t continually interrupt or speak over you. A bad coach may rush to fill the silence or interrupt more than you like. Or they may let you ramble on with little input from them so that nothing feels important.

A good coach is not afraid to bring you back to your initial focus if you’re going off track.  A bad coach will follow you down any path you want without at least flagging up that you’re going off track.

A good coach may offer a solution (if it’s something that you haven’t come up with despite thinking it through, and with your permission). They won’t, however, foist their own solutions on you. A bad coach will fall in love with their own solution and try to convince you to at least try it!

Look Within


There are some easy clues that tell us when we’re working with a coach that’s not right. We can feel unheard or misunderstood. We may feel that there is a hidden agenda going on. For example, the coach may have previously confronted their own manager and feel that it would be great for you to do so the same.  A lot of this is checking in with our intuition or gut feeling. How do you feel about your impending coaching sessions? Yes, it may be an interruption in a busy week, but that aside, are you looking forward to the time? Do you feel as though you are coming to grips with your issue or at least have more understanding around it? Do you even like them? A lot of the literature points to the relationship between coach and coachee as being as important as the coaching itself.

Finally, if something is not right, do raise it. It may just be mismatched expectations. A new conversation about what’s expected and wanted may solve this. If not, then it’s important to move on and find the right coach for you.

You can see my own approach to coaching here

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