How to Choose a Coach
Choosing the right coach is critical. With plenty of coaches to choose from, proper diligence at the outset will go a long way to ensure a successful experience. Here’s a simple five-step process to guide your selection:
1. Educate yourself about coaching
Take charge of the process and become informed. Checkout the resources on this site, and visit the International Coaching Federation site. Get recommendations from others who’ve used coaching. The more you know, the better your decision is likely to be. Being well informed is by itself a significant first step.
2. Assess your readiness for coaching
Your coaching investment can only be effective when 1) you have a real desire for change, 2) you value collaboration and new perspectives, 3) you’re excited to discover what makes you tick, and 4) you’re ready to try new things. When these conditions are met, coaching is highly likely to succeed. Take this short readiness assessment to explore further.
3. Consider your goals
How do you want to show up differently in your life? Think about what you’d like to accomplish before interviewing prospective coaches. Be open to these goals evolving as you move further into the process:
- What do I want to get out of this experience?
- What capacities do I want to build or acquire?
- How would I experience myself differently?
- What would be different at the end of this process? For me? For my organization? For my family or others?
4. Identify and interview several coaches
Get names of potential coaches from friends and colleagues who’ve had good results, or from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) Coach Referral Service. Select at least three coaches who seem to fit your needs. By all means, please invite me to be one of the three!
Tell each prospective coach about your initial goals, and ask tough questions about:
- The coach’s background and relevant experience, qualifications, and skills.
- The coach’s philosophy and practical approach.
- Whether the coach is certified by the ICF.
- How the coach will assess your needs.
- How the two of you will agree on outcomes and criteria for success.
- How the coach will tailor his/her approach to these outcomes.
- Examples of success relevant to your situation, and examples of a coaching engagement that didn’t go well.
- The FAQ page on this site has additional questions to consider asking your coach prospects.
The interpersonal connection and chemistry between you and a prospective coach should feel “right.” You should feel clear and energized, and have learned something new about yourself, even after the initial conversation. If, on the other hand, you feel disempowered or if you were not “heard,” look elsewhere! Remember - a good coach will be assessing you as well; a poor fit won’t work for either of you. Talking to several of a coach’s former clients is also a good strategy.
5. Make your choice and get started!
After you have interviewed at least three coaches, make your decision and confirm your agreement with your selected choice. Before committing, clarify the following:
- How the assessment process will work, and who will be involved
- How outcomes will be defined
- The overall timeline
- How progress against the outcomes will be assessed
- Involvement of any third parties (boss, board, staff, etc.)
- Structure, venue, and frequency of meetings
- Fees, payments, and rescheduling policies
Of course, provide courteous follow-up with the coaches you did not select.