How Do You Choose Your Coach?

How Do You Choose Your Coach?

How do you Choose Your Coach?

Like many of my peers, I was saddened to read the article in the Guardian about Online Job Coaches not delivering on their promises.  I’m often asked the question ‘How do I choose a Coach?’ and I always respond with ‘be very careful!’  Unfortunately, the Coaching industry still remains one of the least regulated in the world.  With the increase in demand for Career/Job/Outplacement and Business Coaches, there has been a rise in the number of people establishing themselves as a Coach without any relevant qualifications, training or experience.  You wouldn’t trust a brain surgeon to operate on you physically with no qualifications or training, so be mindful of the dangers of working on changing your mindset and behaviour, or helping you get your dream job with someone who hasn’t studied, qualified and been working professionally for a few years.

It’s extremely sad to see that those in distress have fallen foul of some glossy Instagram posts and websites with individuals promising to change their lives and not delivered much demonstrable improvement or measurable ROI.  So, in order to avoid falling in to these traps and wasting your valuable time, energy, and money, to identify if a Coach is likely to be effective in a specific area of expertise, it is worth asking yourself the following questions:

Firstly, what exactly do you want to work on and achieve and by when? 

Secondly, what type of Coaching are you looking for?  Here are some types - Executive Coaching, Business Coaching, Career/Job/Outplacement Coaching, Resilience/Stress Management Coaching, or Life Coaching

Career Transition/Job/Outplacement Coaching should involve help with professional CV writing, creating a professional online presence, signposting to relevant executive search firms, recruitment agencies, and job boards, as well as offering advice on networking and targeting of relevant roles.  The Coach should also help you with application forms, competency and behavioural based interview techniques and review any feedback received from any unsuccessful interviews or online assessments.  Clients should be signposted to relevant legal and financial advice and receive constructive and motivational feedback in a confidential, safe environment, as well as working on clarifying goals, achieving development objectives and maximising potential, with the Coach acting as a sounding board.  Your Coach should help you to address key challenges, clarify career direction and improve your personal impact. A bespoke approach to this ongoing personal development as well as a job search will result in increased effectiveness and ensure success.

Once you have established what you want to achieve, use some of our own robust recruitment methods we use to hire Associates in order to check the Coaches credentials and experience:

1. Ask to see the Coaches’ CV, as often they will only provide you with a topline summary or profile, with no dates or previous career history or experience.  If you are looking for an Executive Career Coach/Mentor, ideally, they should have a minimum of 5 years’ experience of working as a senior manager in a corporate organization in order to be able to fully understand the key challenges facing leaders and managers in industry.  If you are applying for roles in the public sector, then check they have worked in this arena at senior level too.

2. The key is to ask the Coach if they have a recognised Coaching qualification and don’t always believe what they profess to be on the web.  If the Executive Career Coach/Mentor is qualified, they should have a minimum of at least 500 hours of relevant Coaching experience, which equates to working with over 30 individual clients, such as CEOs, VPs, Business Owners, Company Directors and Heads of Departments within blue chip or public sector organizations.

3. Ask how long the Coach has been working as a qualified Coach and ask to see a list of their previous Coaching Assignments, which will demonstrate a track record of supporting clients.

4. Find out if the Coach has worked for, or been trained by, any of the reputable global Consultancies.  If so, this will have tested their credentials, as well as involved background and security checks; it will also have added to their portfolio of skills and experience, which will ensure they deliver best practice. 

5. Also, ask what ongoing development the Coach is using in order to be up to date with the latest tools, techniques and trends. 

6. Ask if the Coach has any qualifications and experience in administering and providing feedback from Psychometric tests, Personality Profiles and 360 Feedback.  In order to be licensed to use many Talent Assessment Tools the Coach should be qualified in Levels A and B with the British Psychological Society. Only then should the Coach be able to deliver feedback and develop a client’s identified key strengths and development areas.

7. Ask what clearly defined, yet flexible, approach the Coach uses to achieve evidenced results; provide them with an example of a real-life Coaching issue to be resolved and ask what models, methods and tools they would use to solve very specific problems.  Then ask what outputs are likely from a SMART Coaching Action Plan, how the Coaching intervention will be aligned with any vision, mission, strategy and/or your own values and, very importantly, how ROI will be measured. For example, if you spend £1,000 on 5/10 hours of Career/Job/Outplacement Coaching, how quickly should you expect to recuperate this investment by securing a great role with a decent salary.  Ask for references to show that the Coach has enabled their clients to obtain a role within a maximum of 2 - 6 months, even in the current challenging climate.

8. All Coaching sessions have to be completely confidential, however, you can ask the Coach to list their client companies and ask to speak in total confidence to at least two individual Coaching clients or their HR department to assess the effectiveness of the Coaches work. 

9. Very importantly, check that they adhere to a set of ethics, such as the ICF Coaching Code of Ethics; be very wary of engaging with individuals, who haven’t established credibility and if in doubt ask them to sign an NDA before engaging them to work with you or in your business.  Every Coaching relationship is based on mutual trust and respect. 

10. Check out the Coaches website, Blog and LinkedIn Profile to verify qualifications and experience and to read client testimonials.

11. Be wary of Coaches giving away freebies.  A well respected, qualified Coach will have a busy schedule and probably won’t be in a position to be able to offer a Coaching Programme of a few Coaching sessions free of charge over a matter of weeks.

12. Do NOT sign up to months of Coaching sessions in advance or sign any standing orders.  I’ve heard some horror stories of some unethical practices where Coaches have used hard sell techniques to get clients to sign up and pay for group Coaching sessions for 12 months, only to find that these are just informal sob-story-sharing-sessions with no demonstrable outputs.  Your Coach should be able to invoice you after each Coaching session, once you have agreed that you are happy with the questioning, assessments, models, tools and techniques they have used, as well as the Coaching assignment or ‘homework,’ goals set and the overall outputs and results.  Invoices are usually paid 30 days after each Coaching session.

13. Finally, ask to have a ‘chemistry coffee’ in an online ‘face to face’ meeting with the Coach initially for at least 30 – 60 minutes free of charge before the Coaching Programme commences, in order to check out their Coaching style, credentials and authenticity ‘in person’, as well as to see if there is a good culture and values fit with you and/or your business. 

After all this, if you are still in any doubt about your requirements, desired outputs and who is a reputable Coach, then please feel free to contact me.  I’ll happily recommend some professional, reliable Coaches, with absolutely no benefit to me whatsoever.  I just want to rescue the reputation of the profession I love and have worked in for almost 18 years.

About Jill Maidment

Executive Coaching and Mentoring, Career and Transition Coaching, Business Coaching, Resilience Coaching, Life Coaching Retreats

Leadership Training, High Performance Leadership Development, Management Training, Leadership and Management Team Development, Board Facilitation, Coaching Academy

Executive Assessment, 360 Feedback, Face to Face 360 Feedback, Talent Management and Succession Planning