Interpretation of your message by Clients, Students, and Members

published in Issue 35
International Coaching News

The Ombudsman Service for the Coaching and Mentoring Industry provides each consumer (your clients, your students, and your members) with an independent authority to address grievances, disputes, and/or complaints impartially and fairly.  In the years since the Ombudsman Service was launched by the International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC (IRCM CIC) the number of complaints about how consumers understand your message has grown.

Conflict of Interest, Professional Conduct, Non-delivery of Products/Services, Professional and Ethical Behaviour, Commitments not delivered; are just a few of the topics the Ombudsman Service has reviewed and ruled upon.

Each one of these and other complaints has started with how someone reading your communication has understood and interpreted it.

International Coaching NewsOne of the complaints generated from a Coach who was trained and qualified through a Private Commercial Training Organisation that has an accreditation with a Professional Body.  To clarify, it is the Private Commercial Training Organisation that has the accreditation; the Coach themselves has not applied for an independent verification of their qualification and experience through the Professional Body; nor has Registered with the IRCM CIC to demonstrate their commitment to the Coaching and Mentoring industry.

A number of people raised complaints after swiping up and discovering that they would not only be trained as coaches, but also be provided training in online businesses, introductions to influential people, and a raft of other business opportunities.

Although UK based contracts were signed, what they did not know when they signed up was that the training was with through a third-party: the Private Commercial Training Organisation that the Coach had trained with.

This gave the Private Commercial Training Organisation the opportunity to add these people to their databases: to up-sell and encourage them to pay for more courses.

What was it that the consumers interpreted from this message?  While the Ombudsman Service understands that a small number were successful and have created their own online Life Coaching business, more were not.  The coach training was completed through the third-party Private Commercial Training Organisation, but in many cases the list of other business opportunities was not fulfilled.  When questioning the reason that these were not fulfilled, the Ombudsman Service learnt that a number of opportunities were not available to everyone who bought and paid for this product.  It seemed that the person offering this product made a judgement call and did not progress the full contract.  The challenge those who signed up for this offer and were let down either by their own understanding of what was being offered or by the lack of product delivery; they found was that the person who was offering this product was not based in the UK and as such, especially with the pandemic situation, was unable to be brought to account in a timely fashion.

Conflict of Interest is a challenge that each person within this industry finds themselves and the two types of complaints received by the Ombudsman Service highlight these challenges.

Although relationships is probably the most challenging, the one that comes up regularly is one of clarity of business.  For Coaches and/or Mentors who offer a number of services and/or products, or who may be involved in more than one business in the same industry; it is important that they are absolutely clear about Conflict of Interest.

Take the Coach and/or Mentor who offers coaching, mentoring, training, and other options like counselling, supervision, etc. it is important that the consumer is absolutely clear about the service and/or product they have purchased.  It is very easy and tempting for a Coach and/or Mentor to start working with a client in a coaching and/or mentoring relationship and feeling part-way through that relationship that the client needs something else.

In an industry that is fragmented by the wide variety of services and/or products that are on offer from the many Coaches and/or Mentors who do not demonstrate their commitment to raising the standards in this industry (Registering with the IRCM CIC), it makes an ever-changing industry difficult for the consumers to navigate if the Coaches and/or Mentors do not provide the service and/or product they commit to providing.

With so many different types of personal development routes open to the consumers, the Ombudsman Service expects to continue to receive complaints about Coaches and/or Mentors not providing the service, or as above, the product that they offer.  For those Coaches and/or Mentors who decide part-way through a client relationship that the service they have committed to provide to the client needs to be changed is a challenge.  Most Coaches and/or Mentors do not want to lose their income stream and their clients, but ethically they are obliged to explain the situation to the client.

While the Coach and/or Mentor can remain working with their client providing the service they committed to, they should recommend that the client also works with another person who can provide the additional service that they believe they require.

Selecting training is an interesting challenged faced by many prospective students.  A complaint lodged with the Ombudsman Service related to NLP training which had not been approved by one of the recognised NLP bodies.  A student, who fully believed that they qualified found that when they applied for a job, their qualification was not accepted.  In its investigation, the Ombudsman Service found that although the course was ‘accredited’; the accreditation had been awarded by a Medical Association and not by a recognised NLP body.

If as an individual or organisation working within the Coaching and Mentoring industry, if you are not sure about the message that you are sharing or concerned about a message someone else is sharing; just ask the IRCM CIC for assistance and/or guidance.  Whatever your message is, it is important that you are clear not only on what you offer but also on the details of your competence.