The day has come. You’re ready to hire a coach for your business, a leader who has high potential, or maybe you’re in career transition.
Before you give your credit card digits to a new coach, what should you ask them to figure out if they’re qualified, competent, experienced, and a good fit?
Reasonable question. Right?
Would you allow a surgeon to put you under the knife without knowing if they’re competent or not?
Every time you board a bus, train, or airplane, you have faith the person behind the controls has been properly trained. Right?
In addition to coaching clients and their teams, I’m a Faculty Leader for Coach University, a blue chip coaching school accredited by the ICF.
One of the classes I’m teaching at the moment is Ethics in Coaching.
Part of my ethical responsibility as a trained professional is to educate potential clients about coaching and coaching competence.
Companies are downsizing, rightsizing to some, and trimming staff down to the bone. Those laid off decide to open a business. A coaching business.
Why? Coaching is the profession du jour. Anyone can call themselves a coach.
The barrier to entry to start a coaching business is low. In fact, almost nonexistent. Print a few business cards, put up a web site, and voila! Open for biz!
It’s not that simple.
My experience has shown that 95% of the time, when someone portrays themselves as a coach, they’re not. At best, they’re a consultant.
A good chunk of my clients come to me after having a poor experience with an unqualified so called -coach.- It’s an expensive lesson. Coaching is an investment both financially and in sweat equity to create a better future.
What’s the general public to do?
Margaret Krigbaum, MCC, wrote an essay for the book “Law and Ethics in Coaching” by Patrick Williams and Sharon Anderson.
With input from clients, she developed a list of questions a prospective client could ask a coach about competence.
Here’s a few questions you can ask before hiring a business or life coach:
- Do you have a certification or credential?
- What were the requirements to achieve the credential?
- Did you attend a coach training program?
- How long did it take to graduate from the program?
- Is the program recognized by a neutral international professional coaching body with no ties to the program?
- How will we as a client and coach work together?
- Do you have an agreement?
- What do you do on an ongoing basis to strengthen your skills as a coach?
- Do you have a coach?
- What do you consider your greatest strength as a coach?
- As a professional coach, what areas do you need to improve?
If someone says they’re a coach, the aforementioned questions would be a good place to start to learn more about them and their qualifications.
Perform the same due diligence in hiring a professional coach as you would with an attorney, accountant, doctor, etc.
Photo courtesy of Derek Bridges.
Great questions. I too have seen people claim to be a “coach” without relevant experience.
Lots of coaches out there who are not properly trained.
Steve, I’ve been the consulting world for 22 years, have clients east coast to west coast. Within that consulting environment I’ve done a great deal of one on one executive and 2nd tier coaching. I have several certifications (assessments and consulting academy) but not one that was specifically for Coaching such as you have pointed out here in your notes. I’ve been acknowledge as a competent coach and have been referred to on a number of occasions. With that said, am I missing something? At this stage in my career I do not have plans to go to coaching school. I have had a personal coach on a number of occasions over the 22 years. Your thoughts or counsel, Thanks, John
John, there’s a difference between consulting and coaching.
The purpose of my essay is to educate the public that the majority of people calling themselves a coach, are in fact, not coach’s. At best they’re a consultant. (This is not a bad thing.) In the most egregious of cases, the individual is calling themselves a coach because it’s the profession du jour. The title sounds cool. Though these folks are doing a disservice to the client and the coaching industry.
I can’t tell you how many times people have said they’ve worked with a coach before when in fact they hired a consultant. In a number of these cases the client did not get the value they were looking for.
I’m glad to hear your clients receive value.
I hope this helps.
Thanks for your comment.
Thank you for your comments and insight. Much appreciated.
You’re welcome Gary.