Find the Right Coach for You
If you don't know anyone who knows anyone who's hired a coach, there are all sorts of professional groups, including the International Coach Federation, that offer networks of coaches. Either way, as you begin the all-important search for the right coach, consider the following:
Does the Coach Begin by Conducting a Comprehensive Assessment?
The first thing any well-trained coach will do is collect data about you to establish a solid basis upon which to begin the process. This will be different from coach to coach. Some coaches use established tools such as Myers-Briggs; others will take an inventory of your entire life. Some coaches take their assessment even further by conducting confidential interviews, not only with the coachee, but also with colleagues, superiors, friends and family. However the coach sets about conducting the initial assessment, make certain there is an assessment. If not, that's a pretty good sign of an inexperienced coach.
Does the Coach Bill You Appropriately?
Many coaches ask for payment up front. This is perfectly appropriate and standard practice across the industry. Think of it as a retainer. On the other hand, if the coach asks for a percentage of your salary growth, steer clear. This type of financial arrangement will poison the coaching relationship. Obviously, a coach who has a stake in your financial success will have less than pure motivations in giving you the right guidance.
Does the Coach Avoid Dwelling on His Own Issues?
If you get the feeling that the coach has an agenda other than helping you figure out what's best for you, it's probably a good idea to move on.
Does the Coach Avoid Practicing Amateur Psychology?
There are certainly many coaches with a background in psychology. If that's the case, it may work to blend therapy with coaching. If not, though, a coach who dwells on psychological issues can do damage.
Does the Coach Maintain Appropriate Boundaries?
A coach should have strict personal and professional boundaries. When a coaching relationship spills over into something more personal -- even if it's just a friendship -- it ceases to be effective, and signals a possible lack of integrity on the coach's part.
Are You Comfortable with the Coach?
Sometimes a coach passes these tests with flying colors, but something still doesn't feel right. In that case, keep shopping until you find a coach with whom you feel rapport. Ask potential coaches for their philosophy of coaching. In the end, the best coaches are the ones who tailor their approach according to your particular needs.