If you’re considering hiring a professional development coach for yourself, or sponsoring someone else’s development, you may be at what some consider the hardest part of the process: selecting which coach to work with.
According to the International Coach Federation (ICF), there were more than 53,000 coach practitioners in 2016. (The number is likely higher today). Even if you limit your search to local professionals, the numbers can be overwhelming.
So, it’s easy to find a coach, but how do you find the right coach? Do you analyze candidates’ attributes or go with who feels right?
I recommend an approach that combines a bit of each.
First, the head
Once you figure out your general goals for coaching, think about the attributes that are important to you. Establishing key criteria will help you sift through the masses to find viable options that match your preferences.
In contrast to highly regulated fields like psychotherapy, anyone call herself a coach. While limiting your search to certified coaches does not guarantee skills, it does eliminate some of the less committed practitioners. The tool at experiencecoaching.com enables you to search among ICF-certified Associate (ACC), Professional (PCC), and Master (MCC) coaches, whose amount of coaching experience starts at the ACC level and caps at MCC.
Be clear on what type of coaching you’re looking for. If you are developing high-potential employees, you may want a leadership development coach. If you want help defining your career path, consider career coaching. There are lots of other options, including team effectiveness, communication, self-confidence, and personal growth.
Most coaches will coach in a variety of mediums. If your coach is local you will have the option of meeting in person. Some coaches don’t have their own meeting space, so if that’s important, make sure to ask about it. If you aren’t meeting in person, decide if you have a preference for phone or video.
While coaching is an investment with proven, quantifiable returns, it’s likely that you have some limits to your budget. That said, make sure your price evaluation considers what the amount represents. How much experience are you getting? What services are included? What’s the value?
Then, the heart
Once you have a small group of coaches worth considering, it’s time to meet a few and evaluate their fit. If you’re bringing in a coach for someone else, consider involving them in this part of the process.
Assess the experience of interacting with the prospective coach. To what extent do you feel heard and supported? How curious is he about your challenges and goals? Does she ask questions to understand what you’re describing, or rush to address it?
It may seem like a nice-to-have, but “clicking” with a coach is actually quite important. Coachees will be more open and responsive to coaches they connect with and trust. Similar backgrounds, overlapping personalities, or shared interests can help build rapport quickly, but may not be necessary. Sometimes, it just works.
With a well-planned approach, finding the right coach can actually be relatively simple.