What to Look for in a Corporate Coach
Here at the-Coaching Blog-run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Mark Friedman (USA).
In a recent study conducted by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and PriceWaterhouse Coopers (2012), it was found that Coaching as a profession is growing by leaps and bounds. ICF is the largest and most well-known professional association for coaches. They report that from 2004 to 2011 the number of ICF members grew almost 700%. Professional coaches increased in number from 7000 members in 33 countries to 47,500 in over 117 countries. These coaches will generate close to $2 billion in annual revenue/income. And according to the same study, many coaches are optimistic that their practices will be growing in 2012. Growth will be both in the number of people served, as well as in the number of hours spent in coaching.
At this stage of evolution in the profession, there is no regulation and no official certification to become a coach. While there is a huge amount of advice on how to become a coach, there is little advice on how to select a coach.
There is a growing body of independent research that shows that working with a coach can have a profound positive impact both on the person being coached, as well as the organization for which they work. So what should a person look for when hiring a coach?
Here are some things to consider.
Does the coach have a track record?
It is critical that your coach be able to relate to your work environment and experience. What experience do they have that can help them to help you? Do they have experience with situations or challenges that you currently face?
Will the coach keep ahead of me as I progress?
What does the coach do to keep up with trends and challenges in organizations such as yours? Does the coach have a plan in place to continue their own professional and personal development? How resourceful is the coach in being able to continue to work with you as you grow, to develop and implement plans that will move you forward?
Does the coach model the standards I see for myself?
One of the key ways that people learn and grow is by copying the behaviour of others. Your prospective coach should be demonstrating the principals and behaviours that are critical for your success. This is important so you can observe how the critical behaviour is being used and gives you an idea of how to re-create it to work for you.
Does the coach display good common sense about issues that affect me?
It is critical that you and your coach see “eye-to-eye.” Working with someone who seems to make sense and moreover, displays good common sense about issues that concern you, is critical to building rapport and trust.
What kind of plan or strategy does the coach have? How can I track my success?
Good coaching involves a partnership. To help you be effective, a coach should help you articulate your goals at the beginning of coaching. Your coach should work with you to help you to articulate the outcomes that you want to create. In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey suggested that effective people “start with the end in mind.” Once the objectives (and or ends) are articulated, your coach and you can lay out a plan for achieving them. These objectives can also be a benchmark or ruler to help you track your success.
Am I paying the coach or is my organization?
Coaches can be hired directly by the individual or may be hired by an organization for the individual. Regardless of who hires them, the goal of the coach should be to help the individual grow and to be a top performer. Coaches should be transparent in answering questions about their plan and what they are trying to accomplish with the client.
When the coach is hired by the company, one concern is that their “loyalty” is to the company, and not the person being coached. However, the coach should have clear boundaries regarding what will be discussed with the company. E.g., it is perfectly reasonable to expect that the coach will report on “job performance.” That is, is the person showing up for coaching? Are they doing the assignments? What are they accomplishing, and what progress are they making toward their goals? If the company had some specific goals they wanted the person to accomplish, how are they doing against those goals? On the other hand, anything of a personal nature about family, past experiences, personal weaknesses, psychological assessments that may have been completed, and/or questions about career directions, should be confidential and absolutely NOT discussed with company management. Before you select a coach, particularly if they are being suggested by your employer, ask them what information they see as legitimate communication with management.
Is the coach internal to my organization (OD & T, HR, OE)?
More and more companies are establishing internal coaching resources. Because they are employed by the same employer, there may be a conflict of interest in terms of what they will or will not discuss with management. Before you begin coaching, get clear about what they consider confidential, and what is not. Further, you might want to consider getting this in writing. This will avoid any misunderstandings now or in the future.
Picking the right coach, one with whom you can develop an ongoing collaborative relationship, can positively impact your personal and professional successes!
Mark is a Principal in MJF Associates, Human Resource Development Consultancy, located in Houston, Texas. He has over 25 years of experience in Organization/ Management Development, Executive Coaching, Strategic Planning, Team Building, and Career Development. Mark has worked in a wide variety of industries, government and academia helping clients develop leadership skills and operate more effectively. He earned a Ph.D. in Industrial/ Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 1980. He lives in Houston Texas, with his wife Alice and can be reached at email@example.com and 281–493–0641
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