7 Questions To Ask To Find The Right Coach

Are you serious about working with a coach as you set out to achieve a new professional goal? If so, there are some important things you should take into consideration before you make your final choice.

There are a lot of coaches out there with different backgrounds and a variety of qualifications. Add to them the number of people who have adopted the title “coach” just to ride on the wave of the current coaching trend, and you quickly realize that a simple look at someone’s  title or their list of qualifications tells you little about the actual quality and possibilities open to you if you decide to work with them.

So , how do you choose a coach who is right for you or your organization?

By taking a look at each of your candidates’ answers to the following questions, you will be able to better evaluate how well you can work with each of them to achieve your specific coaching goals.

1. “What concrete experience do you have in my particular branch or industry? “

Some people believe that the neutrality a coach brings to the table can extend to their own lack of specific experience in a particular branch or industry. This may be true in certain situations, but it’s important to keep your own expectations on your coaching relationship in mind before you decide what’s right for you.

  • Must your coach be able to understand the pressures particular to your daily business situation from their own personal experience?
  • Should your coach know the industry lingo and be able to talk about current developments and trends for your coaching relationship to be effective?
  • Is a specific type of prior knowledge mandatory for your coach to be able to ask the right provocative questions that will lead you out of your comfort zone and help you move more effectively towards your goal?

2. “Will you adapt your standard coaching model to my specific needs or the current challenges facing my organization?”

Most coaches have their own coaching model. If their model is not flexible enough to be adapted to your specific coaching needs, that coach is putting their process before your needs.  This lack of flexibility means your coach won’t be able to help you discover and nurture important existing strengths or support you as you work on important areas of improvements.

Before you make your final decision, ask your coach to explain how s/he will adjust the coaching model  to meet the needs of your personal coaching situation. Feel free to use a few exemplary situations to get a better feel for how flexible they are truly willing to be.

3. “What kind of coaching training do you have?”

The term “coach” is not protected. Many people without special training have jumped on the bandwagon to take advantage of the current coaching trend. In the meantime there are DIY coaches and weight-loss coaches; beauty coaches and financial coach. And so on. And so forth.

Although these people may well know quite a bit about their subject, without specific training in coaching principles and techniques they won’t be able to provide comprehensive support in the areas that make coaching so valuable; e.g. goal setting and achievement, focus, changing direction/transition, accountability and motivation. Without extending their knowledge in those areas – something that is the focus of any good coaches’ training – they will not be able to give you the total support you need to achieve outstanding results from your coaching relationship.

4. “Why did you become a coach?”

It’s very important to understand the motivation behind your coach’s choice to make coaching their profession.

  • Was coaching their escape hatch from unemployment or burn-out in the corporate world?
  • Does working as a coach fill them with joy and enthusiasm?
  • To what extent was (even informal) coaching/mentoring part of their past professional life?

You need a coach who quite honestly loves coaching! S/He must have a strong interest in people and their professional and personal development, and be able to facilitate change in their coachees‘ professional lives with unbridled passion. If you don’t feel that passion during your interview, please continue your search.

5. “Will you provide me with innovative and individualized tools and techniques to help me achieve my coaching goals?”

Coaching should be understood as help towards self-help. At the end of your coaching relationship you should have several concrete tools and techniques that allow you continue down the path you began during the process. Ask your potential coach what type of tools and techniques s/he uses. Just as with their coaching model, your coach should be able to adapt the tools and techniques they regularly use to fit your individual coaching needs; e.g. they should not only harmonize with your personality and value system, but also your lifestyle.

6. “Do you have a coach?”

At least during their training every coach works with their own coach. But what about now? In other words: How can you be passionate about the benefits of coaching and not work with a coach yourself?

A coach should set a good example where personal and professional development are concerned. Good coaches knows the advantages of coaching first hand, and have the support of their own coach in order to support their  development as a coach, in business, and as a person.

Because what kind of role model would coaches be if they aren’t always learning and growing themselves.

7. “Are we on the same wavelength?”

You should ask yourself this last question.

After your first introductory interview, ask yourself whether or not you feel you will be able to work well with this person:

  • Will their enthusiasm be contagious?
  • Will you be able to listen to the really difficult questions from this person, accept those questions, and find honest answer for them?
  • Will you be able to trust this person so much, that you expose your weaknesses in order to ‘try on’ new behaviors en route to finding solutions that work for you?

By asking the questions above, you will be able to find the kind of coach who will support you in keeping your own goals in focus, as well as to develop effective strategies and the necessary techniques to achieve your coaching objectives with more sovereignty and focus.

Are you curious how my coaching solutions can help you?

2 Comments on “7 Questions To Ask To Find The Right Coach”

  1. DirkTietjen Says:

    This is a very interesting blog post Trina an I could not agree more. So many times I see people choosing a coach just because of his “superstar” status but not considering if you have the same “vibes” :-). I catch myself sometimes making that mistake, still.

    Also it is very important – as I may add – that your coach or “Guru” (if I may use this word) knows not only the dontent you need, but also knows how to deliver it to your personal learning style. Cause knowledge which does not reach the student is worthless and more likely serves the Ego of the coach, re-establishing his expert status.

    Secondly it is very important what your coach thinks of you – does he have a good attitude toward you – otherwise much of the learning process energy is worthless and wasted. The Pygmalion-Effect at work.

    I wrote on these topics in more detail, too. Anyone interested may find those posts here:

    http://www.dirktietjen.com/is-your-guru-a-double-acting-performer.html

    http://www.dirktietjen.com/what-does-your-online-%e2%80%9eguru%e2%80%9c-think-of-you.html

    2 your learning success, Dirk

  2. Trina Says:

    Thanks for your comments, Dirk. I totally agree about being able to sync your coaching style to the learning style of the coachee. As a communications skills trainer I am well aware that people are very different in how they assimilate information. As a coach it is my job to select tools and techniques that are a good “fit” for my coachee – or adjust them to be a good fit.

    I agree, too, that a coach’s status shouldn’t overshadow how well we do (or don’t) harmonize as a team. If there is too much distance between accountability partners, there is no longer a mutually beneficial relationship. Instead there is dependency (coachee) and ego (coach)!


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