Updated: Jan 14
It's a new year and we are all working to be better. You may have considered using the services of a coach, either professionally or personally, to help you identify and create steps to meet your goals. "Coach" is such a flexible word: it can mean anything from a sports coach, to a health coach to a life coach, to a business or an executive coach.
Hiring a coach is no longer something reserved for those only at the top of corporate organizations, but is an option for everyone from the high school student preparing for college exams, to the person needing clarity and direction for life, to the executive who needs to meet the challenges of changing business environments. But how do you find a coach and what things should you look for? Here are a few tips to help you not lose valuable time or money as you search for a coach.
1. Coaching is a profession, not a hustle. When you look for a coach, use the steps you would in looking for any other professional: Word of mouth, verification of qualifications, professional certifications, organizations. These are some ways to determine the credibility of the person you are dealing with. Anyone can have an opinion about your issues or next step, however all are not trained in coaching protocols that protect you.
2. Ask about training. Has the coach been trained by a reputable organization, or have they read some books, given some advice and decided to "be a coach?" Professional coaches have been trained in coaching practices, standards for engaging clients and understanding conflicts of interests. When you interview potential coaches, ask where they were trained.
3. Is the Coach accountable to any organization? Professional Coaches have agreed to abide by the standards of the International Coach Federation (ICF), and may be accountable to other organizations such as WBEC, PCA, ACA. This accountability insures that your coach meets uniform standards for behavior, confidentiality and the coaching process. It matters.
4. Is the coach a good fit for you? Chemistry is important in any relationship, but especially one that is focused on your goals. After speaking with the coach and you don't feel comfortable, it's ok to keep looking. You can go on the ICF website to find a coach near you. If you find a coach in another city, many coaches will meet via phone, Skype or some other video services, so don't let distance be a problem. Go for it!
Michele Aikens, ACC, is a professional coach. She is the CEO and Lead Coach of Sepia Prime Communications and Coaching, and serves as a Board Member and Director of Marketing for the ICF-Chicago Chapter.