Monday, November 2, 2015

How to Vet an Executive Coach and Get Best Outcomes

Written by Janis Machala, Managing Partner, Paladin Partners,

As I was researching for this Part II piece on executive coaching [read part I], I ran across a few charts from Harvard Business Review blogs on executive coaching. The first is a chart on what’s most important to clients who’ve worked with executive coach(es). The second is a great visual on the difference between consulting, coaching, and therapy.

In selecting a coach consider the following:
Evaluate their certifications and relevant experience. The International Coaching Federation is an excellent certification body although not all coaches have or need the ICF credential. I recommend hiring a coach who has been at the same level as you. It also helps if they understand your industry. If the coach hasn't walked in the same-size shoes, they likely won't understand the pressure you face or the types of decisions you need to make.

When you interview coaches beware of vague descriptions of skills. When you hear descriptions like "sounding board" and "talking through things," they don't tell you what the coach can do for you. Ask specifics about what you can expect and if the coach can't provide them, consider that a red flag.

An experienced coach will describe the process and what you can expect from your time together. Ask about typical lengths of engagement and how success is measured. Your coach should be willing to discuss a game plan with you and give you some detail about how you'll set and achieve goals together. Ask about how the coach has made a difference in his or her clients' professional lives and ask for a few references. Be concerned if none are available.

Beyond the credentials, skills and track record, it's important to have chemistry. Consider your gut reaction to the coach. You don't have to be best friends, but there should be a decent amount of chemistry between you. effective as it could be. What this means for you is that before you hire a coach, you should ask him how he handles dependency in relationships.

Formal coaching relationships are based on written agreements between the coach and the individual being coached. This written agreement delineates the goals and mutual expectations for how the coaching relationship will work.

Excellent coaches had never stopped developing themselves. They constantly look for new things that they could engage in to enable them to coach even more effectively. They work with a wide variety of ideas, theories and models that are appropriate to particular individuals.

R.O.C. (Return on Coaching) – Over time, if the results are not exceeding the predictable results or aren’t feeling like a good investment, the relationship ceases to be effective. A common timeframe for initial executive coaching is 6 months, with a second scope of work possibly continuing for an additional 6-12 months. If you’re too comfortable with your coach you may be using them for the wrong type of work. Coaches should be growing, pushing, stretching your abilities. I recommend a mid-point assessment and a final assessment (close of the relationship).