FIND A COACH THAT WORKS FOR YOU.
Excerpts from an article BY CLAIRE TRISTRAM
Finding the coach that's best for you is easier said than done. "Unemployed executives used to say they were 'consultants,'" complains James Flaherty, a 12-year veteran of the executive coaching business. "Now they say they're 'coaches.' The coaching business isn't regulated by anyone, and that's hurting us."
When it comes time to interviewing prospective coaches, here are five questions to ask yourself — questions that will take you beyond the obvious:
1. Is this person really a coach, or just a consultant in disguise?
"Consultants give you answers. Coaches ask you questions," "Hiring a coach is not like hiring a lawyer. It's not about getting an expert. If your coach claims a level of expertise that you can never attain, that's a big red flag."
2. Does the coach have a strict code of ethics?
To get the best results, you'll need to be completely honest with your coach. Look for a coach who insists on total confidentiality, as unbreachable as the attorney-client privilege.
3. What will this coach actually do for me?
To get specific results, be specific about what you need. "Say to your prospective coach, 'Here's what I want to do. What do you know about it, and how can you help me?'" Try to establish a level of detail where you know exactly what will happen if you work together.
4. Does the proposed program match my needs?
A coach's game plan must be consistent with your real life, says Flaherty. If you've been asked to make an unreasonable time commitment, or to change your lifestyle in ways that don't feel doable, look for another coach. Thomas Leonard, for example, trains coaches to operate almost exclusively by email or over the telephone, in deference to managers' busy schedules.
5. Is the financial picture clear?
"What's your fee?" shouldn't be your first question, and it shouldn't be your last. "Make sure you understand exactly what it is you're paying for."
A version of this article appeared in the October/November 96 issue of Fast Company _magazine.
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