Things to consider when choosing a coach
Coaching is a focused short to medium term programme between two people with the purpose of defining a clear goal or goals and achieving it or them. It can be just a few sessions but is more likely to last between three and twelve months. It has a clear start and finish. Longer, less focused arrangements are usually better referred to as mentoring.
There are several areas to consider to make sure you choose the coach who will have the best chance of helping you to achieve your goals for the coaching programme.
They fall into five broad areas ;-
1. Will I get on with them ?
2. What will the coaching experience be like ?
3. Do they have the skills required ?
4. Is the quality of their coaching going to be good enough ?
5. Where and how often will we meet and will that work for me ?
Let’s look at them one by one
Will I get on with them ?
This is really important because you need to feel you can share just about anything with your coach, you need to trust them and be comfortable in their presence. You will be spending a lot of time with them. You may prefer a man or a woman, a young person or a more experienced person, just go with whatever works best for you and be selfish about it – because you can be!
The best way to find out is to meet them for an extended period, at least an hour, you will know if the chemistry, the fit, works for you. Most coaches worth their salt will do this without charge and understand that it is absolutely not a problem if you decidethey are not the one.
What will the coaching experience be like ?
The best way to find out is to ask your potential coach to tell you about their methodology, what information will they need, will they want to meet anyone else, e.g.your boss, how often will you meet, where will it be, what will typically happen at each meeting, will you take notes, will there be any contact between meetings and anything else that you feel is relevant. You can even ask the coach to give you a mini coaching session at the chemistry meeting so you can get a feel of the experience.
There are a wide range of people calling themselves coaches, some may have psychology training and may be very good at coaching but will never have sat behind a desk like yours or experienced what you are experiencing, others may be seasoned old hands with experience of your business sector who may be tempted sometimes to slip into mentoring and share some of their wisdom with you. Either way, check out how it is going to be and make sure the style of the coach is going to work for you.
Do they have the skills required ?
There are broadly two ways to get good at coaching, the coach can go on a course and learn what they need to know and they can gather skills through experience. Both work and you can get evidence of how skilled the coach is by asking what coaching training they have had and check it out and by asking how long they hav been coaching and ask for references. Once you have chosen your preferred coach you should speak to someone who has used them recently and ask how it worked for them, ask for examples or evidence of how the coaching helped them to achieve their goals.
Is the quality of their coaching going to be good enough ?
The more qualifications and experience the coach has then the better they should normally be, who do you want in the pilot’s seat when you are taking off in a big jet ? Preferably someone with a lot of flying hours. There is a further clue though to quality. Good coaches use and pay for professional supervision. This is a coach for the coach. Coaching is hard work, a coach needs to concentrate hard, to listen well and to ensure he or she is following the coachee’s agenda and train of thought – as well as keeping the coaching session on the subject and to time. Some issues that coachees have can be complicated and tricky and so the best coaches use a confidential supervisor with whom they can share situations and work out coaching strategies to help the coachee to succeed. So ask your prospective coach if they use a supervisor. You can also ask them about what code of ethics they subscribe to. They should know. It is important.
Where and how often will we meet and will that work for me ?
Sometimes it is the logistics which are most important. Where will we meet, how often, for how long, what if I need to move a meeting ? Check out all these things, some coaches like to coach while out walking with you, others at their own offices or houses, some will come to you. Some will offer coaching over the phone or by Skype. Ask about these things and make sure you are comfortable with the answers. Skype coaching can work for some people but face to face is better in most cases.
Midlands Leadership wish you well in choosing your coach, if you find a coach that works for you, you will be able to work out clearer goals and better strategies to achieve them. Your performance will improve.