As coaching grows ever-more popular, it's hardly surprising that the demands for regulation get ever-louder. Of course, the unwary and the unsuspecting must be protected from the unscrupulous - and yet if coaching is stand the long term test of time, it's the market place which will dictate its future - not the regulating bodies. As a discipline, coaching is future-based and results oriented.
So far, so good. And yet when it comes to proving just how powerful coaching can be, there seems to be little agreement in the best way to go about it. While you'd think that most companies should have a duty to their stakeholders to prove that coaching provides an at-least-decent return on investment, few (it appears) have any effective, replicable "success" measurement systems in place. And it's not that every company should use the same measurement system - but it would be encouraging to think that every company running a coaching programme would have at the very least, a passing interest in its efficacy.
It was the same in the "good old days" of advertising and marketing - when it was a matter of long lunches and schmoozing the client. The argument always used to be that both disciplines were "creative" which meant that they couldn't and shouldn't be measured in terms of what new business the campaigns actually brought in. But as the whispers of "Emperor's New Clothes" grew to a crescendo, the "fat cat" days of the 80s drew to a close. Who was behind the whispering programme? None other than those advertising and marketing agencies who were brave enough to recognise that their days were numbered unless they could find a way to prove their value. The result? Now we see fewer "pretty" ads and more information-based ads which guide us to a buying decision.
And that's before we even investigate the social networking phenomenon in which "real people" are effectively marketing to each other via comments they leave on forums and on their own blogs. As we travel even further into the "information age", it really is becoming a matter of "power to the people". And the "people" - whether they're individuals or the face of the corporate community - vote with their hard-earned cash. And isn't it up to them to choose where - and on what - they want to spend that cash? In the end, it's going to be the market that decides whether coaching represents good value for money. And because coaching is future-oriented, it's actually quite easy to see whether a desired outcome has been reached, within a designated time frame, or not. So if coaching is here to stay - rather than fade out as another passing fad - then it's up to us in the industry to get our own marketing house in order.
Rather than just extolling the benefits of coaching in an airy-fairy manner, perhaps it's time for us to SHOUT about the results we're getting. And even more important than that, perhaps it's also time we all offered a 100% no quibble guarantee on the work we do. If the client puts in the effort but doesn't get the results, he or she shouldn't pay! Simple. That way, we're taking the risk, not our clients. It will be up to us then, and not some nebulous regulating body, to decide what's realistic and achievable.
And as each client is different, it's up to all the individuals involved in the coaching programme to agree an appropriate set of fair and realistic measures. If you're worried that you're going to attract a load of freeloaders who will simply use your coaching and refuse to pay, rest assured that in all the time (nearly 10 years) I've been offering guarantees on my coaching in this way - to both corporate and personal clients - I've never once been asked to refund my fees. However, while absolutely encouraging clients to fulfil their full potential, I am pretty realistic too. If I don't believe that I can help a client achieve his or her aims, then I don't take them on! (And of course, even without a guarantee, I would never take on a client that I didn't sincerely believe that I could help anyway.) If it became common practice for all coaches to offer a guarantee, you can bet your bottom dollar that any coaching "con artists" out there soon wouldn't be seen for dust.
And finally, perhaps we should also take into consideration that it's not just your clients' money that you're taking - but also his or her time. As time is the one commodity that can never be replaced, maybe we should really "up the ante" and offer a "double your money back" guarantee! Are there any coaches out there daring enough to join me in this "brave new world"?.
Author & Coach Olivia Stefanino is Principal of "The Quantum School for Therapists". Join today and receive £500 worth of free gifts ' including a 9 CD audio library, 9 workbooks & a 2-hour coaching session! Visit http://www.thequantumschool.com