STOP!  Before you sign up a coach, here 10 points to consider

Are you about to engage the right coach?  With so many coaches to choose from, how do you know you’ve selected the right one for you?

With the right relationship, the coaching process can be an incredibly effective way of developing your skills and getting much faster results than if you continued as you were.
Some of these questions may seem a little challenging but any self-respecting coach will happily answer them and, indeed, will be expecting you to ask!

  • Professional development

    Ask the coach:  How long have you been a professional coach?  Have you had any professional or formal training?  Do you keep up with current and specialist knowledge in the coaching arena?  Do you undergo ongoing training? Do you have any specialist training?

    There is no requirement to be formally trained as a coach and there are some excellent coaches who have not had any formal training.  Consider whether you would prefer to work with somebody who had been trained and had their coaching observed and graded, whether you’d like to work with somebody who has learned by experience or whether a combination of both is best.

  • Relevant results

    Ask the coach:  Can you work with me with regards to … ?  Do you specialise in …?   (insert your topic to be coached)

    By nature, the coaching process focuses entirely on the client’s experiences, not on those of the coach.  A coach does not offer advice and defining what is relevant experience can be a very grey area.  Despite what may seem logical, it is not necessary for a good coach to have first-hand experience in the area they are coaching.   More important than the coach’s experience of a situation is whether they have successfully helped others in a similar position already.

    What is important is that the coach can empathise with the client.  If the coach has experience of the challenges facing the client, and how to handle them, that can help with building rapport.  In this case, the coach may be more skilled at helping the client to work through those challenges.

  • Credibility

    Ask the coach:  Are you comfortable working in this environment/on this subject?  Have you worked in this area before?  Can you handle difficult groups?  Can you work with specialist information and language?

    Ask yourself:  What does my gut instinct tell me?  Do I take this coach seriously?

    If you are engaging a coach for yourself, look for whether the coach seems relaxed and confident when discussing your coaching situation.  If it is your responsibility for engaging a coach to work with a group or team, then this is even more important, especially if you are going to have to “sell” the idea of coaching to the others.   How will they react when you introduce this coach to them.   Will the coach be able to “hold their own” in the group, respectfully and without either party losing face?   Listen to what your inner voice is telling you and trust your own instincts about whether the coach is genuine

  • Experience as a client

    Ask the coach:  Do you work with your own coach or mentor?

    Coaches understand better than anybody the benefits of working with a coach.  Does the coach you’re considering engaging “walk the talk”?  If the coach has been a client themselves, they are well placed to understand what it feels like to be on the receiving end of coaching

  • Chemistry

    Ask yourself:  Do I like this coach?  Do I want to work closely with this coach over the coming weeks and months?

    Ask the coach:  Have you worked with teams before?  Will you be willing to meet with me/the team before we start?

    The chemistry between coach and coachee needs to work in order for the coaching to be truly effective.  The coachee must feel that they trust their coach and are happy to discuss with them the areas to be coached.   If you are considering a coach to work with the team, will that coach fit in with the group?

  • References

    Ask the coach:  Can I see some testimonials?  Can I speak to one of your clients about their experience as a coachee?

    Whilst some clients prefer to remain anonymous, there are always some satisfied customers who are happy to tell you about their experience of working with their coach and any self-respecting coach will be happy to put you in touch with them.  Ask to see testimonials and, if possible, see whether there are clients that you could speak to in person.   Some coaches put testimonials (written, audio or video) on their websites for you to see.  Look for whether the outcomes achieved the desired results.

  • Professional conduct

    Ask the coach:  Do you follow a code of ethics?  Do you respect confidentiality?

    Ask to see a copy of the code of professional conduct so that you can see the values that the coach subscribes to.

  • Accreditation

    Ask the coach:  Has your coaching been accredited by a professional body?

    Ask to see a evidence of accreditation.  Coaching is an unregulated profession but there is increasing emphasis placed on accreditation in additional to initial training.

  • Flexibility

    Ask the coach:  Do you adjust a coaching programme to the specific needs of the client?  Are there different ways of working with you?

    Some coaches offer fixed packages and clients select the one that is closest to what they want.  This assumes a “one size fits all” approach.   Other coaches take a framework of standard packages and then tweak them to fit the client to ensure that the coachee gets the best results possible.  For example:   Some clients desire more contact time with their coach; some require a blend of packages; some prefer to work remotely over the internet whilst others prefer to talk on the telephone.   Think about how you prefer to work and see what your coach offers.

  • Availability

    Ask the coach:  When could we get started?  What’s your availability?  How long do you expect us to work together?

    Can the coach work with your timescale for achieving your goals?  Some coaches have a fixed programme which has a set duration, others will have a variety of options which will give you choices.