11 questions to ask before hiring a business coach

More and more people are nowadays becoming accustomed to the idea that businesses can be coached and effectively helped to enhance their performance, in a broad range of business management areas.  As the market is still totally unregulated many people are defining themselves coaches overnight without feeling the need of proper training.  This could have serious consequences for you and your business if you happen to hire one of these cowboys.  So if you are considering using the skills of a business coach to help you and your business to be more successful I am listing here are some questions to assess his/her experience and credibility:

  1. what coaching qualifications do you hold?
  2. what can I get from my business while being coached by you?
  3. on what topics can you advise me about my business?
  4. what areas of my business can you coach?
  5. will I be coached on one area at a time?
  6. in what areas do you specialise?
  7. how long have you been coaching for?
  8. how many clients have you coached to date?
  9. have you coached a similar business before?
  10. what is your background before you started coaching?
  11. do you offer packages or do you charge on a on going basis?

Listed below are some acceptable answers you could be getting; your personal expectations will have a key role in deciding what is acceptable for you:

  1. I hold a Business Coaching Training Certificate from Results Coaching System” or “I qualified as a coach from the Coaching Academy”.  Anybody can start selling his/her services without really being a qualified coach: unfortunately many people are currently doing it.  Having a qualification from a recognised and respectable coaching 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 will help you to move from a current situation to an expected, measurable and tangible  outcome.  In any case the coach cannot know, before hand, what your business needs; you are the only person that should be taking the decision about where your business should be going.  Feel sound suspicious if the coach speculates on the expected outcome.
  3. as a coach I don’t advise, I ask questions and help you to find your own answers”: coaching is all about asking questions and not advising.  A person that advises is not a coach but perhaps a mentor, consultant or trainer.
  4. business  coaching can help businesses owners to work on a broad range of areas, such as sales, marketing, operations, customer care, soft skills, conflict resolution, motivation, personal performance of individuals and teams: the question is… what areas would you like to be coached on?”: the main role for the coach is to inspire you on your decisions about what to do and ensuring that it gets done, ensuring accountability.
  5. I usually help my clients to set 2-3 goals in different areas to ensure of keeping them  fully engaged in the business coaching process: it can happen that certain weeks there will be more progress on one goal than another;  in any case you will be involved, nearly on a daily basis, in some activities that are about your progress toward your goals”: working on a single goal can be prone to times when no progress in being made and it can cause a drop in motivation.
  6. I work primarily with owners and senior managers of small and medium businesses that would like to boost their performance and take their business to the next level”: it’s always advisable dealing with somebody that has clear idea of a specific positioning for his job.
  7. “I have been coaching for 3 and half years, full time for the last 2”: coaching is a relatively new profession and the few top qualified coaches in the UK have been coaching for just a bit more that ten years.  Therefore 2-3 years experience can be considered a substantial and reliable level of expertise, particularly if supported by a serious business management background.
  8. I worked to date with 13 businesses and on average they increased their profits by 23% in 6 months
  9. yes, a company operating in the same field and with similar size and turnover” or “I have never worked specifically with companies similar to yours: nonetheless the fundamental of coaching and business management are the same”: while most people would expect the first answer to be ideal the second one fits perfectly a  coaching scenario.  If you consider that coaching is all about you and your business, without suggestions or advises, the hands on experience with a similar company is not as relevant as you might expect.
  10. I have over 15 years of management experience in junior, senior and board positions in small to large enterprises”: It is essential for a business coach to have some solid hands-on experience in running businesses in a senior role.  Ideally a mix of experience in different sectors and sizes of companies will help the coach to have a richer background that will enable him/her to be more adaptable to your business.  This kind of experience helps the coach to bond quickly and naturally with the client because they can speak the same business jargon.
  11. I offer several packages like business, executive and personal coaching based on 12 sessions developed over 3 to 6 months”: open ended contracts, where you start one day and don’t know 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 3 October 2009

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