Coaching is a valuable intervention for gaining support and challenge. Making sure you have found the right coach for you is key to a good investment of both time and money. Here are eight questions to start you off…
1. Am I clear on the type of support I’m looking for?
The differences between coaching and mentoring could easily merit a blog of their own. However, it is generally accepted that a mentor is a more experienced person (than the coachee) and is often in the same line of work. They will provide direction and advice as well as drawing on their own expertise in supporting the client. A coach on the other hand, is not necessarily in the same profession and will use powerful questions to help their client come up with their own insights, plans and solutions. It’s also possible you may be looking for a blend of both and it is certainly worth spending some time considering the type of support you are looking for.
2. Have they completed training with a well-established and accredited company?
There are many organisations out there offering coach training and the quality varies massively. Unfortunately, the coaching business is not yet regulated and therefore anyone can call themselves a coach or state that they offer coaching. It is vital to do some homework before paying out for a sequence of sessions.
3. Do they keep up to date with the latest developments in the coaching world?
Ask about a coach’s ongoing professional development. This may be through regular course attendance, industry journals and/or wider reading. Some coaches will engage in peer coaching and take part in coaching forums where they are able to watch and learn from other coaches.
4. How does a coach make sure they are working to a high standard?
The key to this is ensuring they are being reflective in their practice. For many years counsellors have worked with a supervisor to discuss anonymised case studies. A coach who is serious about their ongoing development will also take part in supervision sessions.
5. Are they a member of any of the respected coaching organisations?
Being a member of the Association for Coaching, the International Coach Federation or the European Mentoring and Coaching Council will mean they have agreed to work within a coaching code of practice. They should make this available to you.
6. Do they have a coaching agreement?
Most coaches will have a coaching agreement in place which they share with their clients. This will vary in length and content but is essentially there to outline clear expectations for both coach and client. Often part of this agreement will be designed alongside you as the client. Your coach needs to know how to get the best out of you and your preferred way of working.
7. Does your prospective coach offer an initial meet-up either in person or via the internet?
The quality of the coaching relationship is key to its success. If you do not connect with the coach (or vice versa), you are unlikely to enjoy the sessions or find them as effective as they could be. Which leads to the final -and possibly the most important- question…
8. Is this coach a good ‘fit’ for me?
A coach could tick every box on the ‘ideal coach’ list but if the answer to this question is not ‘yes’, the process will not be as powerful as it could be. Ask your questions and choose carefully!