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How Do You Recommend Choosing a Coach?

In your organization, your first line of defense will be your HR practitioner who will know if your company offers coaching. If your company does not, you can ask your manager to pay for a coach that you choose for yourself. When companies hire The Ken Blanchard Companies, the Sr. Coach will assign coaches to clients. Our matching skills have been refined through years of trial and error.

If your company does offer coaching, you will want to be prepared to explain to your manager exactly what you want to accomplish with coaching, and as the coaching progresses, keep your manager informed. You will want to work with your coach to clarify up front what a good job looks like and how successful coaching will be measured. You don't have to share the gory details with your manager, but the more transparent you make your progress, the more likely you are to be able to keep your coach for as long as you need.

Any good coach will offer you a complimentary 15-minute conversation. In this conversation, the best thing you can do is share your current situation and ask how he or she might help you. A good coach will simply coach you and you will walk away with value or you will not. If you do not feel like the time you spend with a coach has added value, do not hire that coach.

For those inclined to due diligence here are some other things to consider:

  • Initial first impression—Is this person someone you can relate to and converse with easily?
  • Style, humor, and use of language and metaphor—Is this someone who will be able to communicate efficiently with you.
  • Professionalism—To what extent does this person behave like a business person you can trust?
  • Experience—Does this coach have the experience you want in a coach and the seniority to coach someone at your level? Does he or she have some background in your industry so you don't have to waste time explaining context?
  • Credentials—A lot of coaches call themselves "certified" if they have graduated from a coach training program. This does not mean they are certified by the ICF though you definitely want your coach to have gone through a coaching-specific training program because otherwise you are going to get counseling, therapy or consulting. If you want real certification look for the ICF (International Coach Federation) credential. There are three levels of credential all of which detail the amount of time spent coaching, the level of coaching-specific training, and the level of service to the building of the profession. When coaches get their ICF credential, they also sign an oath to abide by specific standards and ethics of practice. Just because someone has a credential doesn't mean they will be a fantastic coach, but it does show years of experience and commitment to their craft. If you are interested in what an ICF credential represents:
    read more about it.
  • Attitude—Is the coach interested in your agenda or in proving how much he or she knows or how smart he is?
  • Trust your gut—If it doesn't feel right but you can't put your finger on why, keep interviewing. You want to trust your coach implicitly because you are going to want him or her to be able to push you and challenge you.

The ICF has an excellent referral site for people looking for a credentialed coach: