More and more companies are turning to external coaching and coaching programs to develop their executives and next level leaders. With increasing demands on business, and the need for executive development programs growing, the field of coaching is fast becoming a billion dollar industry.
Like many new and growing industries, coaching is suffering from its share of growing pains. Low barrier to entry, abundance of coaching titles and lack of regulation are creating natural questions for those inside and outside of the field.
So how do you know if you need or could benefit from a coach? How should you go about finding a coach? How do you know if spending your time and hard earned money on a coach will yield a return on investment?
Before your invest your time and money in working with a coach do your homework. Hiring a coach, is just like hiring any other professional. You need to know what you want and what you expect to gain from the investment. Use these questions as a guide to determine if coaching is right for you, how to go about hiring the right coach, and how to get the most from your coaching relationship.
1. What is coaching – it is important, before you invest in a coach, that you are very clear as to what coaching is and what is isn’t. A coach is different from a mentor, a trainer or a therapist. You hire a coach to help you gain clarity and focus about what you want and desire to accomplish. A coach supports you in your effort to determine your goals, creates a structured path for achieving them, and provides accountability and motivation to ensure you reach or surpass those goals. A coach can help you figure out what you want – what you need to do to get it – and then helps you stay focused on the journey to achieving it.
2. Are you coachable? Coaching is a growing business because it works. However, while a coach can provide amazing insight, increased self awareness, and help you make tremendous progress, he or she can’t do that unless you want to be coached. You have to be sure you have the desire to change, and the commitment to do the work. It is not easy, as it requires changing habits, moving through obstacles and at times doing things that are uncomfortable. Coaching is not for everyone, and unfortunately the one thing a coach can not do for you is the actual work to help you achieve your goals!
3. Why do you want a coach? Be very clear about why you are looking to hire a coach. Is it to help you increase performance in your current position? Do you ultimately want to change careers? Perhaps you need help with work life balance? Maybe it is just to figure out what it is you do want. Coaches can help and support you in a variety of ways, and the better information you can provide them at the beginning of the relationship, the more benefit you will receive from the relationship.
4. What do you expect from a coaching relationship? You need to define your expectations and express them right up front. Coaching styles, coaching experience and coaching personalities are very different, and getting the right match for you is critical to your success. Coaching is about trust and communication; setting expectations up front will build trust early on and open the door for meaningful communication.
5. How will you measure your return on investment? Measuring return on investment is not easy with coaching as it is more values based than numbers based. However, you need to require your coach to determine a baseline and a starting point with you. Hiring a coach that begins with an assessment process is critical in your efforts to make progress and receive quality feedback. Understanding where you are at the beginning of the relationship will help you establish milestones so you ensure that the time you invest in coaching yields a high return.
Follow these guidelines and ask yourself these questions, before you commit to a coaching program or a coach. Getting prepared to be coached and hiring the right coach will ensure you yield a high rate of return on your investment.