7 Essential Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your New Coach
Don’t Settle for “Kicking the Tires”
Shopping for a life, wellness, or executive coach is a little like being in the market for a used car. That is not meant as disrespect to coaches, as I myself am one. Rather, it is a wake-up call for all. Like a used car, the things that often cause a glitch in a coaching relationship may be the things initially unseen, or what is going on “under the hood.” Therefore, finding the right coach may require more than just “kicking the tires”. Here are a few great questions to ask any potential coach about their inner workings before committing to a new coaching relationship.
Do you offer a free info session?
It is an industry-accepted practice to offer a free info session. This allows clients and coaches an opportunity to see if there is “a match”. Clients have the opportunity to ask questions, while coaches have the opportunity to give potential clients a glimpse what working with them might be like. Think of this as the “test drive” at a car dealership. Who would want to buy a car without taking it for a spin first? Insist on the same before you sign your next coaching agreement.
What code of ethics do you hold yourself to?
This question may catch a few coaches by surprise. Coaching as a profession has progressed significantly over the last 30 plus years. However, there is no state or national mandate of ethics that govern coaches, unlike medical professionals, etc. However, conscientious coaches voluntarily adhere to a code of ethics. For many, this may be the one written by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), one of the top credential and ethics bodies in the field of coaching today. Other coaches may choose a code of ethics that is more pertinent to the type of coaching that they do. Regardless, it bodes better for you as a client to have a coach who adheres to a stated code of ethics. There are many things in this world that are not illegal, but still highly unpleasant. An ethical coach will minimize the risk of any unpleasantries between parties. If the coach cannot name the code of ethics they follow at the time of your info session, this is a red flag. If they name it, look it up. Do you feel comfortable operating according to this code?
How much control do I have over the coaching process?
The leading voices in the coaching industry advocate for clients to be in the driver’s seat regarding decisions that affect the coaching relationship. This means that clients are responsible for deciding what they will discuss with their coach, what action steps to take, and when and how the client should be held accountable for their progress. Coaches have the right and responsibility to make suggestions; however, it is the client’s call as how to proceed. However, some coaches may take a firmer stance and require a more lock-step approach that follows a program. Some coaches offer a combination of the two. Which method works best for you?
What coach training and experience do you bring to the table?
Most coaches begin their professional careers in another arena, and then find themselves gravitating to coaching later. This means that they may be experts in a particular field. This may be an advantage for you. However, this may not mean that they are well-qualified to be a coach. What coach training do they have? How long did they train for? What are they currently doing to further their expertise? Currently, the field requires nothing more than someone to self-identify as a coach to be one. A background in psychology, coaching psychology, and ethics may be beneficial for you and your coaching relationship. What qualifies Coach X to work as a coach?
What philosophies influence your coaching?
There are a multitude of coaching philosophies and models used today. These often unspoken philosophies influence how challenges in a client’s life are perceived and addressed in the coaching relationship. Are they problems, or opportunities? Is the client someone who needs to be fixed, or someone with a host of latent strengths that need polishing? Your potential new coach should be able to explain their coaching philosophy in layperson’s terms. Does this philosophy work for you?
How can I benefit from working with you?
You may have read this on the coach’s website, but it’s worth following up in person. Be leery of unethical claims that promise you the moon. We all want guarantees in life, yet no one coaching method works for everyone. Personalities may not coalesce. Change often takes longer than we wish it would. Keep all of this in mind when interviewing your potential new coach.
What if the fit isn’t right for me?
A coaching relationship, much like any relationship, takes time to develop. Often, this involves the client trusting that their coach will accept them, warts and all. For the coach, it takes time to get to know how best to work with each client, what buttons to push, and how best to push them. Therefore, it may take a few sessions before the relationship hits its stride. Timely client feedback is an important factor in this process, as is the coach’s willingness to implement it. How does the coach handle feedback? What options do you have as the client if you still remain dissatisfied? These are important, yet often unasked questions prior to the start of coaching. Should you and the coach reach an impasse in your relationship, your options for leaving should be stipulated in your coaching contract. Read up and ask questions before signing it.
These are a few questions worth asking should you find yourself in the market for a new coach. Any well-prepared coach will answer them gladly. As this article mentions, coaches differ in experience, training, personality, and philosophy. Therefore, it is worth spending time to get to know a coach before committing to a relationship, just as you would when shopping for a car. Doing so will go a long way to ensure a positive coaching experience for all.