Selecting a coach
What to consider
When identifying potential coaches, think broadly, including reflecting on what biases you might have about what an appropriate coach looks and behaves like. Sometimes biases mean we can overlook or discount the people who would actually be the best person for the role. Remember also that your coaching needs may change over time.
We advise you to initially select up to 3 coaches and then have a conversation with each around their availability and suitability in terms of their match to your coaching needs.
Ask them if they offer an initial exploration conversation. Most coaches offer to meet with the potential client or coachee, often somewhere neutral, to see whether there is rapport and a ‘fit’. This is often referred to as a ‘chemistry check’.
During the chemistry check meeting, you might find it useful to ask:
- What three words would you use to describe your coaching style? What are you known for as a coach?
- Tell me about the coaching process.
- How do you typically structure and decide on the content of a coaching session? How frequently will we meet?
- How long do you recommend the engagement lasts? Note, as suggested below, coaching sessions should have an end date and be focused on a specific issue.
- What coaching or assessment tools do you use?
- How would we establish developmental goals and how do we measure progress?
- How do you manage confidentiality?
You may also want to cover the following topics:
Many coaches offer a three-way meeting involving the coachee, their manager and the coach both at the start and at the conclusion of the assignment. This engages the manager in the coaching process and enables progress towards agreed joint goals to be established and then evaluated later on.
Contract length and frequency
Avoid open ended assignments. Up to 6 sessions for an initial contract would be typical. It’s also important to decide upfront the frequency (for example, fortnightly, monthly). Discuss the process for having to change or postpone a session at short notice.
Many coaches use a centrally located office so you can leave your work environment. This can be an advantage by giving you time to think before a session. All coaches also provide the option of virtual sessions.
Once you have decided to engage a particular coach it’s a good idea to establish a Coaching Agreement. It is likely they’ll have a template but you could also use the coaching agreement resource available on our Coaching for performance toolkit page
If a coachee feels the coaching isn’t working, they should raise this directly with their coach. Having that conversation directly with the coach provides the opportunity to clarify what the specific issues are and agree the best way forward for all parties.