International Coaching Week

International Coaching Week (ICW) takes place this week as a celebration of the coaching profession, aimed at increasing the global visibility, understanding and impact of coaching.

I feel that this would be an appropriate time to offer guidance on the criteria you should be taking into consideration when choosing a coach.

So what should you take into account when choosing a coach?

The CIPD has done several surveys on this topic and below are the areas that they advise HR practitioners to consider when selecting coaches, but they are equally relevant to individuals or organisations when making their choice of coach

External coaches are beneficial for the following reasons:

  • neutrality and objectivity
  • providing sensitive feedback
  • greater confidentiality
  • wider range of ideas

When embarking on making your selection, these are the questions you should be asking:

Is the level of experience as a coach appropriate?
Does the coach fit with the coachee? More senior levels of management will require coaches with experience at that level within organisations. Numbers of hours of coaching is important as well as number of assignments and types of issues.

Do they have relevant business/industry experience?
This may not always be crucial however coaches need a strong understanding of organisational dynamics and the business world to be effective. More relevant is an ability to help individuals to learn and develop.

Make sure you check out references
This provides a chance to talk to others about the style and skills of the coach and if they provide good results.

Can they demonstrate that they are undertaking regular coaching supervision?
This is a formal independent process of reflection and review to enable the coach to continually develop their competence with someone who has more experience. Good coaches will want to review their coaching relationships and update skills irrespective of how experienced they are.

The benefits of supervision are:

  • It offers protection to clients as cases are discussed with trained professionals so potential areas of concern are discussed and actions agreed.
  • Coaches can reflect on their work and improve interventions with all clients.
  • It offers protection to the coach from an ethical and welfare perspective.
  • It provides understanding of boundaries and approach to referral so specialist help can be identified easily.
  • Helps to avoid expensive litigation for all.

What’s in their kitbag?
Coaches should have an extensive ‘kitbag’ of tools and techniques to use in different situations and clients. Good coaches will use models, techniques and frameworks from a wide range of theoretical models including organisational theory, occupational psychology, psychometrics, learning and coaching psychology.

Do they have recognised, relevant qualifications and training?
Relevant qualification and training means they are competent to provide coaching services. They do not necessarily have to be fully chartered psychologists but it is preferable that their coaching qualifications cover psychological theories in enough depth to provide individuals with a good grounding to coach from. Short courses may be suspect and buyers should check out the depth/breadth of the courses and any accreditation by an outside body.

Ask for hard evidence of qualifications and training.

Are they a member of professional bodies?
It is probable that good coaches are likely to be members of coaching related bodies as all main bodies demand adherence to codes of conduct/ethics and CPD and/or supervision. This would provide an avenue for complaint if needed to.

Some bodies now run accreditation processes that require coaches to pass rigorous tests to prove they are operating to a specific standard/level of practise. Both the International Coaching Federation and the Association for Coaching have robust accreditation processes, which are separate to solely being a member of their institute.

Are they appropriately insured?
Holders of PII may be understood to be taking their professional services more seriously for any potentially negative situations.

Other qualities and personal characteristics to look for
The best coaches are those who give honest, realistic challenging feedback, are good listeners and can help provide ideas for action.

This is just a brief outline of the areas that you will need to focus on in the process of choosing your ideal coach.

We’re proud to say that we meet all of these criteria and much more at Spark Coaching and Training.

If you’d like further assistance with choosing a coach or want to ask any questions drop me an email and we can arrange a 30 minute telephone call to talk them through. This free, and you’re under no obligation.