Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Finding an Effective Trading Coach: What to Look For

The recent post on seeking a trading coach suggested that many times a coach is not the ideal solution for trading-related concerns.  Many problems that traders face are a subset of performance anxiety/pressure concerns that impact people in various situations, from exam-taking to public speaking.  Those issues can be addressed quite effectively by experienced, well-trained psychologists.  The advantage of finding such a psychologist is that they are likely to be local and hence more accessible and more affordable than most trading coach specialists.

That local consideration is an important one.  Research in counseling and therapy finds that the most consistent ingredient of success is the quality of the relationship between the person helping and the person receiving help.  It is easier to build and sustain that relationship with face-to-face meetings that can be scheduled with regularity.

Whether you end up working with a counselor, mentor, or coach, other ingredients of success include:  1) a concrete focus for change; 2) active work between meetings to make changes; and 3) the ability of the helper to provide fresh perspectives--and new directions--for the change process.  In other words, change is most likely to occur when you specifically spell out the desired change, work actively and consistently to achieve that change, and receive useful and insightful guidance from the person you're working with. 

But my experience is that one success factor trumps all others:  great helpers care greatly about helping.  They are personally invested in your success and go the extra mile to make the coaching or mentorship work.  With the less effective helpers, you have the nagging sense that the meter is always running, that they're in the business of generating billings.  Effective helpers plan for the end of helping: they want you to be independent and reach the point of helping yourself.  Less effective helpers want to milk the cash cow: they invent endless ways to keep the coaching or counseling going. 

By the end of a couple of meetings, you generally know if the process of mentoring, coaching, or counseling shows promise and whether there is a positive chemistry.  Don't be hesitant to shop around: amazingly, people will travel from store to store to find the right outfit, but won't put a fraction of that effort into finding the right physician or psychologist.

Outcome research suggests that brief approaches to counseling can be highly effective for people who don't have long-standing, severe personality problems.  When you're ready to make changes in your personal or professional lives, the right helper can be a valuable catalyst.

Further Reading:  Three Considerations in Selecting a Trading Coach