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There are questions that will help you evaluate and determine the suitability of a potential coach that you can address long before you meet. Most importantly, it involves doing your homework to determine the answer to a fundamental question: “Why coaching, why me, why now?"

So, you’ve decided that coaching might be a good next professional development step for you.

You’ve undertaken qualifications, programs and courses and have decided that something more tailored, more personalised and bespoke might be a useful next step. You might have funding from your organisation, or you may be investing in yourself, but in either case, you’ve decided a coach can help you succeed.

The business case for coaching is strong, it has tangible benefits that are well articulated, so we’re assuming you’ve decided coaching has merit for you and you’re ready to explore the options.

At this stage, it’s common for clients to start thinking about ‘fit’. Finding a coach who they can build a great working relationship with, get along with, and feel both challenged and supported by. This usually comes down to an intuitive assessment based on an initial meeting, and a sense that you and your potential coach ‘click’.

But, while ‘fit’ matters and feeling comfortable in the interaction is important, there are questions that will help you evaluate and determine the suitability of a potential coach that you can address long before you meet. Most importantly, it involves doing your homework to determine the answer to a fundamental question:

 

“Why coaching, why me, why now?”

 

Getting clarity will prepare you to go into the coaching selection process with a clear understanding of your expected outcomes and help you make a better decision.

The first consideration is ‘what’s the situation or circumstance that’s led you to consider coaching?’

People use coaching for a variety of purposes at different times in their life and career. Understanding these drivers will help you find the best match in a coach. Some of the common situations that prompt people to seek a coach include:

 

Finding my direction, my ‘true north’

A high degree of self-awareness is foundational to effective leadership. There is no substitute for the ability to accurately understand your (often overlooked) strengths and weaknesses and perceive these congruently with the way others see you i.e. your manager, peers, direct reports other stakeholders. This involves doing work on purpose and values, and completing diagnostics to understand your personality, self-beliefs, behaviours and other drives and motives. If you haven’t done this type of work – start here!

At the cross-roads – important choice points

Is your career at a turning point? Are you making important professional and personal choices and want to work through the options and ramifications in a holistic way? Often the questioning a coach facilitates will create options, pathways and contingencies you hadn’t considered and help you find a way forward.

Owning an opportunity for improvement

We all enjoy being told we’re doing a great job but sometimes the most important feedback we can receive is constructive criticism, highlighting an area we can improve. Missing the mark on either performance or behaviour is never fun, but it’s what we do next that defines us. Involving your manager in the process through ‘3-way’ sessions with your coach can create shared understanding and expectations and gives you an opportunity to learn, stretch and grow.

A specific issue or opportunity

Are you at one of those crucial career inflexion points, where the stakes are high and the potential payoffs higher? Making all the right moves in a new job, project or assignment can set you up for success. A coach can help maximize your impact in those critical first 100 days and build your ability to have impact and influence.

Guidance from someone who’s walked the path

The more senior the role, the fewer people we have to bounce ideas and seek sage advice from. If you find yourself looking for guidance from someone with specific sector or other specialist skills or experience, then it may be a mentor you’re after rather than a coach, someone who’s been there and done that and is willing to share what they’ve learned. Mentors are valuable sources of knowledge and can help you identify the skills and expertise you need to succeed.

Transitions

Are you navigating a career transition – either redundancy, restructure or an advancement related recruitment process? Transitions can be uncomfortable and create a sense of fear, but working with a specialised transition coach can maximise your visibility and generate options for the future, some you may not have even thought of.

Is it “Ior “We”?

Individual coaching is a powerful tool for personal change. However, team coaching can also be incredibly valuable by helping you open dialogue and face into the things that are both enabling and inhibiting your team’s performance. Bringing a fresh set of eyes and ears to the way you work collectively with your people can create lasting change.

 

The answer to the question – why coaching, why me, why now – isn’t a simple one, it’s wide and varied. Being clear on your needs and the outcomes you’re seeking however can help you make a better choice in a coach.

Each coach has their own strengths and methodologies and while there are universal principles, there are also different ‘schools’ of coaching, each with their own strengths. If you can clearly articulate the needs that are driving you to seek a coach, you’re better able to ask questions and evaluate their answers to create a more robust sense of ‘fit’ with your coach.

This in turn will increase the likelihood of achieving the outcomes you’re seeking and trust me, that’s good for both you and your coach.

 

Marshall Cowley
Senior Consultant

 

To find out how we can help you, please contact us at Dattner Group.