If you want to choose a coach who will be a good fit, you need to start by researching your options:
- Search online for both local listings of coaches in your geographic area and also ask your friends and colleagues for referrals.
- Narrow your search to two to five coaches and study their websites to get a sense of their styles of coaching and specialties.
- Also search LinkedIn and other social media for additional information about these coaches.
Most coaches offer a complimentary initial consultation that allows both the potential client and the coach to assess questions of fit. If the fit clearly isn’t a good one, many coaches will refer you to other coaches who might be more appropriate.
Make sure to prepare in advance for your conversation with a prospective coach:
- Be able to describe the specific issues, situations or opportunities you want to address in coaching, what you want to accomplish and in what time frame.
- Indicate early on if you are looking for coaching on the phone, in-person coaching or a mix of both.
- Be clear about whether you or your organization will be paying for the coaching (organization coaching rates are usually higher than those for individuals; rates may also differ between public, private and non-profit sectors and also can vary considerably by geographic location).
- Understand that coaches are professionals who will have rates similar to those of other professionals you hire like lawyers or tax accountants.
- Be prepared to ask the coach about his or her past coaching experience and credentials; most coaches will gladly send you a resume and other materials.
After you have narrowed down your list of prospective coaches, make an appointment to speak on the phone with the coach who seems most appropriate. If you have a search process, let the coach know what it is (e.g., that you’ve got a short list of coaches and are interviewing them to see who might be the best fit, etc.). Remember to take notes. If the first coach you call seems to be a good fit…it’s your choice whether to call the others or not. If you’d like to proceed with this first coach, ask what their policy is regarding a complimentary session. Some coaches may offer this session on the spot if they have time, while others prefer to schedule it in the near future. If you have any doubts about the first coach after the complimentary session, call the next coach on your list. In any event, do send a follow up email to any coach you spoke with but didn’t choose, thanking them for their time — you never know when you might cross paths again…
How would you know if the fit is a good one?
- The coach has experience coaching others like you and addressing similar issues
- You’re put at ease by the coach and feel comfortable talking with her or him.
- The coach understands what you’d like to accomplish and asks thoughtful questions.
- Your conversation with the coach has already started to give you new insights, ideas and perspectives.
- You are feeling energized, optimistic and also relieved about getting help in moving forward.