At this time of year, I meet many Directors and business owners who are actively thinking of hiring a professional business ‘coach’.
Yet, almost all of them ask me the same question:
“How do I find a good one?”.
It’s a potential minefield! It’s a very fair, and not easily answered question! But here goes anyway…
The challenges are that ‘coaching’ has become a rather trendy word, and the vast majority of people who call themselves ‘coaches’ actually have no idea what coaching is, and, more worryingly, have no professional coaching qualifications at all.
So here is how I would go about it as a first few steps, although I would emphasise I have been involved in coaching for around 12 years, and completed my professional qualifications all the way back in 2004.
Remember, your coach will have a significant impact on you and your business, so make sure you put in the time and effort to choose the right one!
Firstly, I would ask any potential coach candidate to clearly identify the differences between coaching, mentoring, training, teaching and telling – there are distinct, and important differences. Any professional coach should easily be able to do this ‘off the cuff’. If you’re unsure what their answers should include, ask me!
How do they work with a client? Do they want you to follow a ‘system’ they have developed or use (more common with newly qualified coaches who are building their experience portfolio, those who are unqualified or franchised ‘coaches’ (who, in my opinion, you;re best avoiding))?
Or will they give you exactly what you and your business need?
From the experience of clients who have come to me after working with the former, I would certainly recommend you avoid any coach who tries to get you to follow a prescribed ‘system’ as it essentially assumes the needs of you and your business are just the same as every other business….and, I can almost guarantee, they won’t be!
Working with a coach who gives you exactly what you want will deliver the best results, and provide the best value for you.
Next, I would recommend you have a detailed rummage around their LinkedIn profile:
Are they a genuinely professionally qualified, experienced coach, or are they someone who has ‘been on a course’, or left their previous employment and decided to ‘set themselves up’ as a ‘coach’?
Do they use their coaching skills with other useful skillsets (e.g.: mentoring)?
Do they have coaching experience relevant to you and your needs?
Their profile should, at the very least, help you to answer this.
Then, look at their professional coaching qualifications.
Are they genuinely qualified?
If so, which body were they obtained from?
Warning! There are many, many ‘coaching courses’ out there that provide coaching skills training of a, being as diplomatic as I can, highly variable quality!
Certainly, many of these are not of the standard you should reasonably expect in a professional coach.
I would firmly recommend that you ascertain their coaching skills qualifications are from a UK university or a recognised, professional UK institute (e.g.: the CIPD or similar). These qualifications usually take 1 to 2 years to complete, let alone the professional development that follows.
It is simply not possible to become a professionally competent coach after attending a weekend course!
Probably only 10%-20% of ‘coaches’ are genuinely qualified, around 80% of which are women.
So, you have checked out a bit about their understanding of coaching, their willingness to ‘publish’ their coaching experience and expertise, and that they are properly qualified. What next?
What about their reputation?
Ask your network as it probably has far greater reach than you realise.
How well known is your prospective candidate among your peers?
What is their track record, and who can you find who would recommend them?
Who has actually worked with them and what were the outcomes?
Can you work with them openly and productively?
Spend some time with them to find out. Ask any questions you have and consider their answers carefully.
Remember that a coach may well be helping you to explore areas that are challenging to say the least, so trust is essential.
What you pay for genuine professionals is built on the same principle the world over: you get what you pay for!
If you come across a ‘coach’ whose charges seem surprisingly low, beware!
Typically, a professionally qualified, experienced business coach will charge about the same as an accountant.
So there you are. Just a few thoughts from me which will hopefully help you avoid some of the pitfalls and risks from choosing the wrong coach.
To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:
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© Adrian Malpass 2015-17. All rights reserved.