How to Select a Coach

ist4868416Helping People Find the Right Coach

Coaching. It’s out there. It seems like everyone’s doing it. But is it doing any good? If you’re like most of us, you’ve been hearing a lot about coaching over the past while. But what’s it really all about and how do you help someone find a good coach?

What’s it all about?

Fundamentally, coaching is about improving outcomes through a guided, personal discovery process. Given the demands and complexity inherent in today’s business environment, many people want to know how to improve their effectiveness at work, and more and more often, they are thinking about finding a coach to assist them.

According to the ICF Global Coaching Client Study, companies that use or have used professional coaching for business reasons have seen a median return on investment of seven times their initial investment.  Individual clients reported a median return of 3.4 times their investment.

You might be trying to help someone else find a coach, or you might be looking for one yourself; where you go and how you get there is going to depend on identifying the kind of coaching you need and then finding the right person for you. Broadly speaking, there are three approaches to coaching frequently used in organizational and business contexts, and each serves a different need.

Executive, Leadership or Business Coach: Executive coaches provide personalized, goal-focused coaching to help leaders leverage their strengths, identify obstacles to success, and develop strategies to optimize performance.  Executive coaches provide a safe and confidential environment to engage in meaningful dialogue, receive objective feedback, and develop new skills.  Acting as thinking partners, executive coaches encourage intentional thought, action, and behavior changes in order to improve overall performance.

Career Coach:  Career coaches help to guide career choices by working with clients to uncover options that leverage their strengths, draw on their interests, and ignite their passion.  Using multi-faceted assessment tools, they help clients to examine their motivations, talents and natural abilities in order to uncover career options and identify career goals and a clear direction.

Life Coach or Personal Coach: Life coaches help you to achieve personal goals.  They support you in developing clarity regarding what you really want in life and help to uncover what may be holding you back from achieving your vision for yourself.  They can help you to make a change in your life and will hold you accountable for the actions you commit to.

How can you help people find what they need?

First, do some research. Talk to folks who have used coaching services in the past (e.g., colleagues, your HR department, professional networks, etc.).

  • What has their experience been?
  • Is there anyone they would recommend? Why?
  • Is there anyone they would avoid in future? Why?

Second, do some more research. Search the web and explore the International Coach Federation web site to learn more about coaching http://www.coachfederation.org/. Talk to a few individuals or firms who provide coaching services. Find out what they do and how they do it.

  • How long have they been providing coaching services?
  • What are their coaching credentials?  In the ICF Global Coaching Client Study, respondents indicated that coaching credentials and certification influenced 77% of their hiring decisions.
  • What is their background and experience?
  • What sorts of individuals or groups do they typically work with (e.g., professionals, executives, middle management, etc.)?
  • Which of the three types of coaching described above most closely reflects their approach?
  • What organizations have they provided these services for? What do current or past organizations/clients have to say about them?
  • What commitments are they willing to make to you (or your organization) as a potential client?
  • What about confidentiality? Cost? Time? Process?
  • Who do you think is a good match for your organization’s culture, style, etc.? Who do you think you can trust?

Third, here are some questions you can suggest to individuals seeking a coach, to help them think about what they want – they may not know exactly what their coaching needs are at this point, but with a bit of reflection they probably have a general idea.

  • Why are you thinking about getting a coach?
  • What is driving this?
  • What “kind” of coach are you likely to feel most comfortable with?
  • Male or female?
  • Young and energetic or more seasoned and reflective?
  • Someone from your business sector or professional background?
  • What about your personal values and belief system? What role does that have for you as you consider a prospective coach?

Finally, help the individual weigh the information gathered, to identify the coach who seems like the best “fit” for the need you’re trying to address. And remember, if it doesn’t turn out to be a good fit, learn what you can from the experience and try another coach.

Whether it’s you or someone else who is looking for a coach, recognize that coaching is not something done “to” or “for” you. The coach is an important part of the equation, but a successful experience requires your energy, interest and follow-through. If you’re not serious about making some changes right now, save your effort and money until the timing is better for you.

If you are interested in learning more about our approach to coaching, give us a call at 905-474-3014. We’d be pleased to have a conversation with you.

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