9 questions to ask before hiring a personal coach

coachCoaching has become a fashionable profession.  More and more people are now considering normal the idea that a coach can effectively help them to move from a current situation to an expected outcome within their life and business.  This new trend has also inspired many people to call themselves coaches while they are not.  So if you are considering hiring a personal coach to help your self development you could use the following questions to assess his/her experience and credibility:

  1. what coaching qualifications do you hold?
  2. what can I achieve from being coached from you?
  3. how can you advise me about my life?
  4. on what areas can you coach me?
  5. in what areas do you specialise?
  6. how long have you been coaching for?
  7. who are your clients at the moment?
  8. what is your background before you started coaching?
  9. do you offer packages or do you charge on a on going basis?

I will list below some acceptable answers you might get and that you can compare to your personal expectations:

  1. I hold and Intensive Coaching Training Certificate from Results Coaching System” or “I qualified as a coach from the Coaching Academy”: coaching is at the moment unregulated.  Anybody can start selling his/her time as a coach and unfortunately many people out there are currently doing it.  Having a qualification from a recognised training institution will guarantee you to be dealing with a real coach not just somebody who defines himself/herself a coach.
  2. Anything realistically achievable that you are willing to commit time and resources to” or “it will depend on what you would like to achieve”: coaching can help you to move from a current situation to an expected outcome.  In any case the coach cannot know before hand what you would like and can achieve from the coaching.  It should sound suspicious if he/she speculates on the expected outcome.
  3. As a coach I refrain from advising, I ask questions and help you to find your own answers”: coaching is about asking questions and not advising.  A coach that advises is not a coach but perhaps a mentor, consultant or trainer.
  4. “As a personal coaching I can help most individuals in a broad number of areas, such as personal performance, improving social, romantic and business relationships, parenting, weight management, finance, housing, project management, personal achievement, midlife crisis and motivation: the question is what areas would you like to be coached on?”: different coaches will offer perhaps different answers.
  5. I work primarily with personal clients, private individuals, who are usual in management or professional roles that would like to achieve more from their life”: it’s preferable dealing with somebody that has clear idea of who his/her clients are and that chooses to work just with them rather than a person that works with anybody who comes along.
  6. Have been coaching for 3 years, full time for the last 18 months”: coaching is a relatively new profession and the top qualified coaches in the UK have been coaching for just a bit more that ten years.  Therefore 2-3 years experience is considered a good and reliable level of expertise.
  7. following our code of ethics I cannot disclose who my clients are: I occasionally mention situations and coaching conversations while I always keep my client’s identity confidential”  Beware of a coach who lists their clients’ names.
  8. I have 10 years experience in training and education” or “I have over 15 years of management experience in both junior, senior and board positions in small to large enterprises”: some coaches have a background in HR or psychology and build on that; at the same time coaching is a methodology to deal with issues that goes beyond the actual background so any solid work experience will be a great start for a professional willing to become a coach.
  9. I offer several packages like personal, business and executive based on 12 sessions developed over 3 to 6 months”: open ended payment schemes where you start one day without a clear idea of when you finish are reflecting the working methodology of therapists: they are also encouraging the coach to keep you engaged as long as possible in order to make more money off you.

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This post was written by massimo on 28 Aug 2009

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