The coaching industry is booming and more and more organisations have started using coaching as part of their leadership development processes. Mostly at senior management, executive or board level and mostly with a considerable price ticket. Given the investment and the stakes involved in executive coaching assignments it is becoming increasingly important to find quality coaches who deliver the outcomes they are hired for and ROI. Coaches come in many shapes and sizes and although standards are starting to emerge, finding good coaches remains a headache for many organisations. In this blog I’ll share some tips for finding and engaging great coaches for your organisation.
Work with coaching vendors. The easiest way to get going with coaching is to engage a reputable coaching vendor. These vendors will provide you with their portfolio of a range of coaches, as well as recommendations as to the most appropriate ones for your assignment. Good coaching vendors will assess or at least observe their coaches in action in order to provide you with detailed information about each coach’s strengths and likely fit to different leaders. Make sure that your vendor actually provides this important quality control. I’ve worked for some vendors who had no idea about my coaching approach or effectiveness. You may find working with coaching vendors too limiting and choose to build your own coaching data base. The next steps will help you set this up.
Attend coaching training. I would say that this step is essential if you plan to select coaches directly. Even if you don’t plan to be a practising coach, attending coaching training will give you great insights into the way coaching works, how coaches think and the challenges they face. You will get real good answers to questions such as “how do you coach”, “can we get feedback on the leader’s progress?”, “how will you show ROI?”, “how many sessions?”, “how long are sessions?”, “should I ask for chemistry sessions” etc. You will, of course, also get introduced to the wider coaching community and potentially find coaches for your organisation.
Referrals. As an executive coach I get most of my coaching assignments through referrals. And for good reason. If a coach does good work, it often makes a great difference in an organisation, and both leaders being coached and HR are likely to share their positive experiences. Ask your existing coaches and your industry peers for referrals or ask around about good coaches in general. This will also give you a good idea of different coaches’ rates. A note of caution; what worked for one organisation may not work for another, so you’ll need to select coaches for your specific requirements and context.
Interview and select. If you choose to engage coaches directly for your organisation, it is important that you meet potential coaches to understand their style, values and approach. Treat it like an employment interview and ensure that you explore a good mix of concrete examples, coaching values and robust coaching capabilities. Culture fit is important for you to present credible coaches to your leaders. Ensure that the potential coach’s dress, language and approach will fit your organisation’s culture. That being said, it will be important to retain a sufficient variety of coaches to cater for the needs of different leaders in your organisation.
Test drive. If you are a trained coach you could ask potential coaches to do a coaching demonstration. Coaches may be reluctant to do so without fair warning, but I consider this to be one of the best ways to get an idea of a coach’s style and approach after verifying their credentials. Engaging a trusted coach could help if you’re not confident about your ability to evaluate coaching effectiveness.
The tips in this blog should provide you with the initial steps to get coaching going in your organisation. Thereafter you will need to experiment, evaluate and adjust based on your experiences and learning. Keeping a record of feedback about different coaches will allow you to eventually weed out the unwanted ones and focus your attention on those delivering the best value. The coaching pool and the coaching knowledge base continues to grow and expand. It will be important that you stay on top of the latest trends and ensure that you know of any new kids on the block worth engaging.
I’d love to hear what your favourite tip is for finding great coaches, please share!