15 Compelling Reasons You Shouldn’t Hire a Coach

by Alli Polin on February 26, 2019

Imagine the dinner party conversation. Room full of strangers and everyone is making polite yet slightly boring conversation. Hot topics range from the weather to upcoming holidays to what you do for work. Often, when asked what I do, I’ll say I’m a coach. Then I get the dog look. You know the one.


What do you coach people on? Like sports? 

I coach people to help them show up more powerfully in their personal leadership and live a more fulfilling life.  

Oh. A coach! Yeah. Sure. Totally. Cool. I always thought about hiring a coach. What do you think? Should I? 

Freeze here.  

There was a time in my business when bells would go off in my head. They want to hire a coach? Awesome. Let it be me. 

I’ve learned. Now I pause.  

Maybe sorta kinda wanting to work with a coach and being ready and committed are not always the same thing. Not to mention, perhaps it shouldn’t be me.  

If you’ve thought that you might like to work with a coach, it takes more than dollars and an opening on your calendar on Tuesday at 3:00. While I, like most coaches, would love to partner with you to accelerate your happiness and success, there are signs it might not be right for you – don’t ignore them. 

Maybe you’ve been told you need to hire a coach. Then again, maybe you just read an article or met a fascinating person like me at that dinner party. No matter what reason you’ve come to a decision, and before you move forward, check in to confirm that you’re ready to make the leap. Can doesn’t always = should.  

Want to Hire a Coach? Here Are 15 Reasons It May Not Be Right for You

You prioritize cost over value

When you interview a coach and they tell you their fee, it’s not a starting offer. Coaches are professionals. Yes, different levels of experience and niches have different price points, but cheap shouldn’t be your leading criteria. Focus on value, your goals, and what you want to achieve from your coaching.  

You’re not willing to be honest with yourself

Lots of people like to tell themselves stories. If you do too, you’re not alone. Still, if your MO is to deflect and defend at all costs, you won’t get what you need out of a coaching relationship. Coaching works when you’re willing to take a beat to find the nugget of truth you’ve been burying for too long.  

You want to be liked 

If you want to pay someone to tell you how smart, fabulous, and good looking you are don’t hire a coach. You can’t waste your time worrying about how you come off or stressing about looking likable when you’re doing the hard work of self-discovery and uncovering clarity where before only existed fog and uncertainty. 

You want someone to tell you exactly what to do

There are coach/mentors out there who are willing to give you recommendations and suggestions. They’ll even brainstorm with you on your next step and share their experience as a part of the conversation. Still, if you just don’t want to be the one to decide on your next step and want someone else to take control for you, look somewhere else. A consultant is probably a better fit.  

You’re unwilling to prioritize coaching

If you can’t find the time on your schedule on a consistent basis for something that you’re paying for in service of your success and growth, what are you doing? Some people will bump their coaching session for just about anything, and there are others who treat that time as sacred. Which one do you think gets the most out of their coaching relationship? Not hard to guess.  

You refuse to do any work outside of your sessions

When you work with a coach, there will be aha! moments. However, you’ll also walk away with some actions to take and want to reflect as you integrate new insights into your day-to-day. If you want all the work to happen during your 60 minutes, you’re missing out. Coaching is not about a single great conversation, it’s your springboard to transform your life and leadership outside of the session.  

You don’t want to be challenged

Hate it when someone calls you on your crap, pushes you or challenges your way of thinking? Does it make you crazy or angry or shut down? If so, coaching is not for you. Perhaps what you want is a mentor to share their experience instead of someone who’s going to challenge you.  

You just want to vent

Venting can be useful and has a place in coaching but if that’s all you really want to do, don’t hire a coach. You’re better off meeting a friend for coffee or dinner and letting it all out. In coaching, once you’re done venting, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s going on and design a plan to move forward, not wallow in your frustration.  

You’re not sure why you want to hire a coach

I’ve gotten calls from people who want to hire a coach because their friend hired a coach and got a lot out of it. They don’t have any specific goals or things that they want to work on in our sessions but are sure that it will be useful. While you may stumble on things that are insightful for you, your coaching time won’t be purposeful and that matters. What’s at stake? What’s important to you?

You hate discomfort

Coaching is uncomfortable. If you want to remain in your comfort zone, don’t hire a coach to help you get out of it. You hire a coach to make a change; to move from where you are today to where you want to be in the future.

You underestimate chemistry

Not every coach should be coaching you. Before you hire a coach, have a call or meeting with them. Sure, they may have worked with your colleague down the hall, friend, or neighbor, but it doesn’t mean they’re right for you. Coaching can be intense and deeply personal. Not every style, personality or approach will be a good match for you. Take your time to find the right person.  

You don’t want to set the agenda 

Each time you meet with your coach, they’ll likely ask you for the agenda for your conversation. It’s your time, you set the agenda. If you don’t have anything specific you want to talk about, work towards or explore, it’s not time well spent. Hate to set the agenda and prefer to let someone else take the lead? Get over it or at least question how you’ll get what you need from your coach.  

Silence drives you crazy

Here’s what happens: Your coach asks you a question and then waits for your answer. If you don’t have an answer immediately, they’ll give you a moment to reflect, process and respond. There will be quiet; palpable outer stillness while you wrestle inner turbulence. However, some people get so uncomfortable with silence they’d rather talk about nothing than letting it linger. If that’s you, either learn to be with the silence or find another mode of support.  

Unwilling to go deeper

When you start to get to a tender place, do you put up a wall? Coaching will take you deeper than you’d go on your own or could with a book. Going deep isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Especially in the social media era, people like snippets and quick fixes. Transformation and strength are beyond skin deep.  

Expert vs. Equals

If you want to hire an expert who will give you steps 1-10 because they know more than you, hire a consultant. If you want someone who’s your equal in the coaching relationship, but an expert in coaching in specific areas like career development, business, leadership, etc, hire a coach. There is no room for a power dynamic in a successful coaching relationship.  

So you still want to hire a coach? Make a powerful change in your life? Then make it happen. Good news is, you don’t have to go it alone. 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™ February 26, 2019 at 7:06 am

Hi Alli,
As one coach to another, I think you have captured the essence of what every coach has experienced. In your truly insightful way, you have gone beyond the obvious and presented the truth in a way that can help everyone who considers coaching to self-reflect before they make the decision.

Ironically, by doing that, you are coaching them as they read the post!

I love it. Very subtle, creative, and powerful.


Alli Polin February 26, 2019 at 7:30 am

Thanks, Kate! As coaches, when we work with people who don’t really want to be coached or change, it’s a painful process for everyone involved. Glad this post resonates with your experience too!



Gary Gruber February 26, 2019 at 7:16 am

Oh yes, yes yes! You may recall one of my previous posts, garygruber.com/why-coaching I wrote it originally in March of 2017 and then posted it again a year ago in January, 2018. Your title and list are spot on from my experience. You have terrific insights and observations. I only take 3-4 clients in any given year and not in it for income, more for helping professionals in transition. How about you? I doubt that there are few who would not want to “accelerate your happiness and success.” However, for me, I am in the slowing down phase and enjoying stillness, solitude, and personal pursuits of being creative. Happy to recommend you to others!


Alli Polin February 26, 2019 at 7:29 am

Thanks, Gary! In the past few years, I’ve decided to work with very small numbers of people and it’s been a great change for me and for my clients. I too am happy to refer people in transition to you if you have an opening, they’ll be lucky indeed.



John Bennett February 26, 2019 at 8:32 am

I am a huge fan of the University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball team. Even now living here in Virginia, we’re fortunate to have access to be able to watch most of their games on television. And of course, I read anything about the team that I can find.

All sports teams have coaches of course. Geno Auriemma, the UCONN WBB coach, is often interviewed because of the success he and his staff have been able to have through their efforts with the players they recruit – efforts in practice and games of course, but much more: helping (expecting really) efforts outside of team practice, on their own; self-reflecting on how things basketball related AND unrelated are going and how they can go better; … you get the picture. His players that buy into his message ALWAYS improve, no matter how good they were when they joined the team!

I have written from time to time about how each of us can have a better life by adapting the coaching Geno Auriemma does with his team to our personal efforts. INDEED, as I read and Considered this post, I firmly believe Coach Auriemma would agree with your thinking – BOTH for people in general regarding successful lives AND for young ladies thinking about UCONN WBB. With regard to the latter, I’m quite comfortable suggesting Coach Auriemma recruits only those players he and his staff believe are coachable consistent with your list. I’m also very comfortable suggesting that his players succeed on AND OFF the court when they take personal control of their lives AND ARE COACHABLE!!!

Quoting you, Alli: “If you want to hire an expert who will give you steps 1-10 because they know more than you, hire a consultant.“ In sports, there are (less successful) coaches who see their responsibilities to be doing a lot of this / mostly this. Successful coaches do some of this but do so much more. There are ‘outside’ coaches – trainers really – whose total efforts are dedicated to those steps. Both are important at different stages. Only those coaches with players understanding your reasoning will experience success in competition. And, BY THE WAY, those players will have a higher likelihood of success in their personal lives and post-competition careers as well!!!

Every one of us can CHOOSE to work hard to optimize our success – what ever definition of success we subscribe to. That success demands personal commitment and interactions with others that enrich our efforts. AND if we’ve done our homework to understand why, a coach can add so much as well. But, as you write, Alli, getting a coach is not always going to have a positive impact!!!

Great post as always …


Alli Polin February 26, 2019 at 10:42 pm

What a fantastic example! Coach Auriemma gets it! Unless someone is coachable, ready and willing to take it in and make changes, they’ll only get so much out of their time with even the best coach. I’ve certainly learned that some people who think they want a coach want something different. Good news is that there is a wide range of helping professionals out there.

I know that you are someone who reflects and seeks understanding through open-minded consideration. Truly appreciate that you took the time to share your insights here!



Terri Klass February 26, 2019 at 9:32 am

You are spot on about why coaching really isn’t for everyone. I have found that first and foremost, a coachee has to believe that coaching will help them move in a new direction. Even if they are unsure of that next crossroad, they are willing to explore because they are ready for the leap.
I also love your point about the individual being coached setting the agenda. It is so important for coaching discussion to be started by the coachee. Of course the coach jumps in and helps with great empowering questions but ultimately the individual discovers their own answers within.
Thanks Alli for being such a great coach!


Alli Polin February 26, 2019 at 10:45 pm

Definitely need to be willing to explore… I’ve had clients that wanted to make a beeline towards their next stop. You know, there are coaches out there that would be a great fit for that individual. They’re ready to rock and roll. I’ve coached others who wanted to go deep on the inner work to discover new pathways to happiness and joy in their life. That’s a very different experience.

I know that your leadership coaching clients are lucky to have you!



LaRae K. Quy February 27, 2019 at 12:38 am

This a great list, Alli! The one that resonated the most with me is: willing to be honest with yourself. If a person is not willing or able to make an honest assessment of where they are, no coach in the world will be able to help them. If we are brutally honest about the warts and beauty marks, coaching is a short term healing solution to help us see both our strengths and weaknesses. And pointing out the weaknesses is not to beat us down…it’s to smarten us up so we know where our vulnerabilities lie. We all have them, and the smart ones know how to manage them so their strengths shine…


Alli Polin February 28, 2019 at 1:31 am

Well said, LaRae. I appreciated your insights into self-awareness this week on your blog. Like you write here, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledging them only makes us more self-aware and ultimately stronger.

Many thanks!



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