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How to find the perfect coach - Part 3

RitaPerea_17-web-2- Rita Perea is president and CEO of Rita Perea Leadership Coaching and Consulting, specializing in working with senior leaders to successfully engage employees, lead teams, manage change and balance work and life.

If you are considering hiring a coach to help you zoom ahead to reach your goals, then you have come to the right place! Because business coaching is an unregulated industry, it is critical that consumers understand what they should expect to receive for their investment of time and money. This is the last article in a three-part series devoted to helping potential coaching clients get armed with important information to discern the type of coach they are searching for, identify the qualities found in a great coach, and, finally, determine if their potential coach is a great fit during their first meeting together.  

Big Decision One: Private pay or employer-funded?

One of your first decisions is to weigh the options to hire the services of a coach that you pay for out of your own pocket (private pay) or asking your workplace to pay for your sessions (employer-funded). There are advantages and disadvantages to consider in both payment arrangements. In my private coaching practice, I provide services to both types of clients. For some of my clients it is more advantageous for them to pay for my services without the knowledge of their workplace. Private pay affords the highest degree of  privacy and confidentiality for the coaching client. You can share anything with your private-pay coach, and it will be kept confidential. Another advantage of self-funded coaching is that you have an unrestricted selection of coaches and an unrestricted range of personal or professional goals to work on achieving. You aren’t restricted to the “flavor of the day” initiative at work.

An advantage with an employer-funded service is that there is no out-of-pocket expense to the client. However, a disadvantage may be that the number of coaching sessions may be limited to just one or two, and you may need more.  

Big Decision two: A coach who is outside or inside the organization?

The next big decision is to determine if you want a coach who owns a private practice and works independently (an external coach)  or if you want a coach who works for the same organization that you do (an internal coach). Many large organizations today have coaches on staff to work with their employees. Again, there are obvious cost advantages and privacy considerations when working with an internal coach. It may be difficult to work with someone who is your coach but also your co-worker. Oftentimes coaches who are also employees lack experience and credibility in working at the senior levels of an organization. They may have a limited perspective.

Engaging an “external” coach, someone who is an independent contractor or consultant, can be advantageous because they would naturally have an independent, outside perspective of your issues. They typically are highly skilled and have credibility at the senior management levels. And, a coach who is an independent consultant, and not an employee of your organization, is going to give you greater confidentiality and privacy.

In the end you will need to explore the pros and cons of paying for the coaching yourself or seeking funding from your employer. Will you use the services of an independent coaching professional or a co-worker? Carefully weigh the benefits of each choice and then decide.  

Completing your research

Maybe you have gathered the names of potential coaches by asking family or friends. Or perhaps you found them through a Google search. It is important to read each coach’s website information thoroughly to determine if they are a possible fit. 

Examine what types of clients the coach serves and what objectives they have achieved. Think about whether their approach would work with your personality. Consider whether you prefer someone with expertise in a particular industry or business setting. Also determine what meeting schedule and format would work best with your lifestyle and needs. Some people do best with just once-a-week, in-person sessions, while others prefer having 24-hour phone access to a coach. Some coaches only work via Skype or the telephone. It is all great, as long as it will meet your needs.

Also, look into the coaches’ training. When I hear about coaches hanging out their shingle after completing an online certification, it raises some red flags. The coaching process should be a warm, person-to-person interactive experience based on well-researched techniques, not a one-size-fits-all canned approach. Coaches’ in-depth knowledge and ability to customize their programs are what allow them to maximize clients’ growth. Personally, I think coaches who have undergone in-person training and have extensive background experiences offer superior services.

Scheduling the all-important first meeting

Your first meeting with a potential coach is much like interviewing someone for a job. Completing an initial consultation can help you determine which coach is the right fit for you. When you contact potential coaches, tell them how you heard about them and ask to set up time to talk. Clarify whether they charge for this meeting (many times it’s complimentary). Usually you will set up an appointment to speak over the phone, on Skype or in a face-to-face meeting.

When interviewing your coach, be sure to ask the right questions to find out the right information. Here are some you may want to jot down and bring to the meeting or refer to immediately following the consultation:

Questions to ask the coach:

  • What is your training?
  • Do you hold any special certifications?
  • What are your areas of expertise (e.g., executive, business, career)?
  • Could you supply client references?
  • Do you cap the number of clients you work with at any given time?  
  • What is your coaching philosophy?
  • What are your fees, and what do they include?
  • Do you include any special surveys or tools in your coaching process?
  • How long would each coaching session last? One hour? 90 minutes? Two hours?
  • How many coaching sessions do you recommend?
  • Do you offer evening or weekend times?
  • How do you measure results, and when should I start seeing them?

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Does he or she make me feel comfortable?
  • Is this someone I could work with on a weekly basis for several months?  
  • Do I genuinely like this person?  
  • Do I feel like this coach listened to me and heard what I was saying?
  • Does the coach seem knowledgeable about the areas where I need assistance?
  • Does his or her coaching process and format work with my current schedule and commitments?

By the end of your initial consultation, you should clearly know what to expect if you decide to work with this coach. This includes the approach, format, methods, fees and billing structure. At the end of the first meeting, your coach may ask you to sign a letter of agreement. Please know that you don’t need to make a decision on the spot — if you’re not sure, take your time. You want to go into the coaching process with confidence and enthusiasm, not second guesses.

By getting clear about your goals, doing your homework and asking the right questions, you will be well on your way to finding your perfect coach and achieving at extraordinary levels.


© 2016 Rita Perea. All Rights Reserved.

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