Questions to consider when selecting a coach in business settings:
- What kinds of people has the coach worked with? Has he or she worked with senior executives in business settings similar to yours before? If the person has worked primarily in clinical settings, have him or her explain how his/her coaching approach would differ from therapy or counseling.
- Does the coach have a good understanding of how businesses operate and the demands they make on executives? Will the coaching be grounded in the business needs of your organization? How will this be assured?
- Is it important that the coach have knowledge of your specific industry? This may or may not be important. For example, it might be of greater importance if your industry is facing some specific challenges that the potential coachee must deal with.
- What kind of professional training does the coach have? If the individual has a certificate, what does this really mean in terms of actual training and supervision? If the coachee will need to work on issues of human relationships, a strong background in psychology or a related field that provides knowledge in adult development, learning, and behavior change is helpful.
- How will issues of confidentiality be handled? What information will be shared with whom and what will not?
- How will the coach determi what the individual needs to work on? Evaluate how thoughtful and strategic they are in zeroing in on the most important issues. What is the process of assessment to determine the coaching needs? For example, will it involve interviews, 360 degree surveys (surveys of peers, boss, subordinates, self on specific skills or characteristics), paper and pencil instruments, etc.? Some executives report that they find filling out personality tests objectionable. Others do not. Make sure that the kind of assessment is appropriate for your executives. In any case, make sure that there is some sort of assessment done. How does the coach partner with the coachee in planning the developmental process?
- How will the coach insure that you get results? What is the process he or she will use? Will the coaching involve more than one-to-one meetings? Will the business coach “shadow” the executive, attend his or her staff meetings, meet jointly with the executive and his/her boss? What is right for your organization?
- How structured will the coaching be? Will there be a clear development plan that is agreed to by the executive, his boss and (perhaps) the HR manager? Will the coaching be more free form? What is right for your company?
- How long will the coaching process last? Will there be checkpoints to assess progress?
- Will there be a way of measuring progress in terms of the coaching objectives?
- What happens if the coachee does not like the business coach or does not find the process helpful?
- If you plan to have a number of people being coached, does the coach or his/her organization have the capacity to work with the entire group or will you contract with many individual providers? What is right for your company?
- If you are working with a consulting firm that does coaching, how does the firm train and assure quality control among its various coaches?
Note: Presented at the Society of Consulting Psychology, 2003 Mid-Winter Conference, Scottsdale, AZ.