Excutive Coaching A guide for the HR ProfessionalAuthor: Valerio A.M.
Other authors: Robert J.L.
Publishers: John Wiley & Sons
Year of publication: 2005
Number of pages: 241
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How Do You Select a Coach?
In this chapter we look at the practical issues involved in selecting a coach. The goal is to work with a coach who is appropriate to the task. That obvious statement, however, rests on the surface of a potentially rather complex decision.
In many companies the HR professionals will do most of the selecting. At the other extreme, the client may need to do all of the work to find a qualified coach.
Topics covered in this chapter include the following:
• Finding a coach
• Selecting the right coach
• Things to avoid in a coach
• Internal coaches
Finding a Coach
Before all else, be sure that what you need is an executive coach to help the client with issues of performance, potential, and leadership. Review the material in Chapter 1 so you know whether you should hire an executive coach, a life coach, a career counselor, a psychotherapist, or any of several other kinds of resources.
28 Executive Coaching
As with consultants or business service providers, coaches obtain much of their business through referrals. Asking your friends and colleagues for the names of good coaches is a good way to start. As a human resources professional, you are likely to have connections to local or national coaching organizations, and you can also make inquiries among your colleagues at other companies.
Selecting the Right Coach
Coaches should be recruited, screened, and interviewed in a manner similar to that used for other professionals. The client should also have a strong voice in having the final approval on a particular coach. Even if you as the HR professional do much of the screening, the client should participate actively in the choice as well.
As one HR professional in a health care management organization described coach selection: “We ask about the coach’s capabilities. We find out what the leadership methodologies are in which the coach has been trained and if they are consistent with the direction in which we are trying to move the culture. Also, the fit between the person and the coach is important. There needs to be a connection so the client is open to listening and sees the coach as credible. It is very important for the coach to be non-judgmental. We seek input from the client on the comfort level with the coach.”
In some organizations, the clients do the actual selection of coaches. You may or may not be that involved in the actual selection process. Your primary role may be as a conduit of information for the client. Whatever your role in coach selection might be, you can provide value to your client and your organization by raising some important questions that help to select the right coach (see “Questions for an Interview with a Prospective Coach” in Section V).
The question of references often comes up. Coaches are usually willing to provide references, but not all clients want to be used as
How Do You Select a Coach? 29
references. It’s easier to get references from HR departments than it is to get them from individual clients.
Size of Firms
Many coaches work as solo practitioners or have joined with a few others as a small firm. The resources to do coaching are minimal— there’s no need for fancy offices or large overhead expenses.
There also are many coaches who work part-time or full-time for larger regional or national consulting firms.
Some very good coaching is offered by people who were or still are in the mental health field, such as clinical psychologists and social workers. Coaching is sometimes offered by large employee assistance firms. Career counselors and life coaches sometimes also do executive coaching. For the past ten years or so, especially under the constraints of managed care, a number of such professionals have been retraining themselves to be coaches to clients in organizational settings.
None of the factors listed in this section will have any importance if there is not good chemistry between the client and the coach. No one has a formula for defining good chemistry, but “you know it when it’s there” nonetheless.
Perhaps good chemistry, in this case, is some combination of trust, respect, likability, and overall comfort. If the positive connection is there, the coaching is more likely to succeed, regardless of anything else. One doesn’t need an elaborate explanation to explain a strong gut reaction—intuition can be trusted.
A note of caution, however. Some people carry a notion in their minds as to what a coach should look like. The coaches you meet may not look like that stereotype, but may be exactly right. Try to keep an open mind as you interview prospective coaches so you won’t pass up a good coach in favor of one who fits a stereotype.