I am incredibly lucky to have a rich network of colleagues who I can call upon (and who can call me) for coaching. Everyone experiences that moment at work where they need a sounding board, an opportunity to reflect, analyse, explore or see new perspectives on a situation. When I feel stuck, or overwhelmed, I can choose from an incredibly talented group of coaches who will help me to unravel an issue, clarify my thinking and move forwards with an inspired action.
It’s the world I work in (after more than 20 years specialising in workplace skills, learning and development) its natural that I would be surrounded by talented people who also specialise in unlocking performance and releasing potential. So I am lucky. Trained coaches have VERY special skill sets. But more about that in a minute. I can find a fantastic coach whenever I need one, but where do you turn to when you have those moments at work where you feel stuck, overwhelmed or need new perspectives & strategies for moving forwards?
Coaching is an approach that has exponentially taken off as a tool for improving performance in the workplace. I have witnessed an explosion of new coaches getting themselves trained and accredited over the past 10 years. There has also been an explosion of people adding the term coach to their job title, but how can you distinguish between coaches? How can you distinguish between those for whom the development of people is their profession, passion and true vocation, and those who just add the word coach to their ‘job title’?. No two coaches are the same. How can you be sure you are choosing one that treats coaching as their profession, that undertakes regular skills development for themselves, that studies the skills needed to be a superb coach and practices their skills regularly, that wholeheartedly holds the client’s agenda at the heart of their intervention? How can you be sure you pick a coach that is right for you?
So, what should you look for in a business coach?
Personally I would start by asking for recommendations. Whatever a coach says about themselves on paper, it is the testimonial of their clients that really paints a picture of how good they are.
If I was choosing a coach I would be interested in how they keep their skills fresh and sharp. What training have they completed? Do they have a ‘supervisor’ or some other way of getting feedback on their approach? Do they undertake CPD? Do they show a passion for their work and the achievements of their clients?
Does the coach ask great questions that stop you in your tracks and make you think? Do they tell you what you should do, or do they empower you to grow the skills to work it out for yourself?
You can kid yourself that you don’t need a coach to help you improve your performance at work, and to be fair, coaching might not be for everyone. But if you want something to change, to improve, then working with a professional coach is highly likely to help you. Look for these 6 things when you choose your coach:
- They have a track record of clients who speak highly of them.
- They listen, a lot.
- They ask you questions that you hadn’t thought to ask yourself.
- You get a buzz from spending time with them.
- They have an uncanny way of pinpointing something you’ve said that has more significance than you realised when you said it.
- They inspire you to inspire yourself.
Its important to remember that your coach should believe that you can find the answers to the challenges you are facing at work. Having your coach make suggestions, put ideas into the pot for consideration or even tell you what to do might well be the kind of catalyst you need to find new momentum, but look for a coach that stretches you to find the inspiration, motivation and confidence you didn’t know you had. Coaching is about developing you, not showcasing the cleverness of the coach.
I’d love to know what you think, whether you agree with my 6 essential things to look for in a business coach, or whether you would add anything to the list.