Working with Your Coach

Selecting your coach

Once you have determined that you are ready, willing and able to begin working with a coach, the question becomes, “How can you ensure you select a coach who will be most effective in helping you to accomplish your goals?” Here are some tips for selecting the right coach for you…

1. Begin with the end in mind. Consider what you want to get out of the coaching relationship.

  • What goals or objectives do you want to achieve through coaching?
  • What is a key challenge for you right now?
  • Do you need to learn new skills or get rid of bad habits?
  • What expectations do you have about coaching?
  • What type of coaching style would most helpful to you?
  • What do you want to learn about yourself through coaching?
  • What do you want to learn from your coach?
  • What kind of support do you need?

2. Prepare your questions in advance of meeting with a potential coach. Based on your reflections about what you want out of a coaching relationship, write down several questions that will help you make a decision about moving forward with hiring a coach. Here are some questions to start your thinking:

  • What is your business experience? Where have you worked?
  • What kinds of issues, challenges, or problems have you coached clients on?
  • How long have you worked as a coach?
  • What professional coach training have you completed?
  • What coaching process or framework do you use? Why?
  • What tools, techniques, or methods do you like to use? Why?
  • Which psychometric assessments are you qualified to administer?
  • Which professional code of ethics or conduct do you adhere to? How do you handle confidentiality?
  • How do you maintain your objectivity and perspective with coaching clients?
  • How do you suggest evaluating the success or impact of our coaching?
  • What are your policies around coaching?
  • What is your coaching format (F2F or phone options? how often? how long?)
  • How do you select coaching clients? Do you ever turn away potential clients? If so, for what reasons?
  • What is your fees structure?
  • Who can I contact as your coaching references?
  • Click here to find out some answers to look for

3. Get quality referrals.

  • Ask people you trust whom they know works with a coach they find helpful.
  • There are many coach referral services including
    • St. Louis Coaches Association
    • International Coach Federation
    • Worldwide Association of Business Coaches
    • Most professional coaching schools will provide referrals, e.g. the International Coach Academy.

4. Interview two or three prospective coaches to test the “chemistry” between you and the coach and to discover which one may be best for you with your particular objectives and expectations.

  • Most coaches offer a short complimentary coaching session to help you explore how they can assist you.
  • While several coaches may be able to give you competent assistance, find one that you feel naturally drawn to work with.

Get started by discussing ground rules for the coaching relationship. Once you have chosen a coach to work with, you will need to discuss ground rules for your working relationship. Most likely your coach will explain the policies and ground rules they normally follow in their coaching practice. Most coaches are flexible in how they work, so it is your responsibility to understand the guidelines the coach suggests and to ask for anything you think will be most helpful to you.

Your coach will challenge you to move out of your comfort zone. Effective developmental coaching is designed around providing you with the skills for assessment of your situation, challenge to try new ways of managing yourself in the situation and support as you go about the work of going beyond your previous limitations. Prepare to be encouraged to challenge yourself with new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.

Coaching is all about change. Working with a coach will help you learn to establish goals and develop strategies for developing your effectiveness. Usually the success of executive coaching is measured by sustainable behavioral change by the person being coached.

Understand that when working with a coach, it is the work you do between coaching meetings that is most important. You are the only one who can learn to think, feel and behave differently in your real-time situations.

The coaching meetings are for planning what to do, how to do it, and reflecting upon your experience so that you can learn from it.
Meetings and discussions with your coach may include benefits such as:

  • Creating space to reflect upon your experiences from a more objective perspective;
  • Having a professional thinking partner who can ask probing questions to facilitate your most resourceful thinking;
  • Increasing awareness of your personal patterns of behavior – what works well for you and what may need to change.
  • Increasing awareness of your previous blind spots, generally and in specific situations;
  • Developing new strategies to achieve your goals and new skills to implement those strategies;
  • Identification of additional resources to support you in the achievement of your developmental goals.

It is critical for you to capture and remember the lessons from your experience by taking the time to do so, usually in writing in your journal. Only by being willing to reflect and learn what works best for you, will you be able to achieve the results you want.