360compass.com | Larry Ferguson
** How to Select the Best Coach for You **
How to Select The Best Coach For You | Larry Ferguson

In times of recession, companies must do more with less. Providing executive/management coaches to high-potential performers is one way to get the most from untapped talent.

Unfortunately, many managers and executives select a coach based on referrals from colleagues without adequately considering their  goals and challenges. The person sponsoring the engagement usually sends a few coaches for interviews and asks the interested manager or executive to select one based on “fit.”
But without a greater understanding of what happens in a coaching relationship, it’s difficult to make a fair assessment and pick the best match.
So, how do you decide what to look for in coach who best fits your situation?
Here are 8 key qualities to help you select the most effective one:

1.      Strikes a balance between supporting and challenging you

You’re more likely to open up to a coach who creates a safe, confidential environment. Coaches accomplish this in part by demonstrating they understand and respect your interests, values and concerns.

But coaches must also provide challenges that motivate you to perform beyond your habitual behaviors; confront you directly, yet non-judgmentally, with the impact of your actions; and probe the motives and assumptions underlying your behaviors.

2.      Helps create feedback loops with colleagues

Your peers will rarely share authentic feedback with you. But, a skilled coach can solicit important information in a way that satisfies confidentiality requirements. Your coach should help you develop the skills needed to create relationships in which you can ask for honest feedback on an ongoing basis.

Instead of encouraging dependence, your coach should teach you how to manage your development in the future. After an initial assessment, a good coach shows you how to form links with colleagues and teaches them how to frame useful, specific feedback instead of vague judgments.
Your coach will teach you to ask for feedback and manage the conversation without being defensive. This includes learning how to determine which feedback is relevant and valid, prioritize the issues you need to address and figure out how to handle them.

3. Assists in clarifying your true strengths, values and purpose

Skilled coaches help you clarify your developmental, career and life goals. They should also teach you how to sort out your needs, wants, concerns and boundaries in any particular situation, which allows you to become more comfortable and act more consistently when completing goals, even in complex circumstances.

4. Provides structure during the development process

Your coach must help you manage each step:

  • Establish a contract
  • Get input from others
  • Review feedback and plan development
  • Hold regular coaching meetings to practice new behaviors
  • Implement behaviors in daily work
  • Assess for results

5.      Broadens your perspectives

Your coach should help you break free of any limiting beliefs and assumptions. A significant shift in perspective can occur when your coach:

  • Provides additional viewpoints
  • Plays devil’s advocate
  • Looks at situations as others might
  • Asks new questions
  • Offers new approaches

6.      Teaches you concepts and skills

A well-seasoned coach offers a mental model of what leadership means, what it takes to be effective and the key skills required. He / she should teach you skills relevant to your particular situation and assist with implementation in daily interactions. 

7.      Maintains confidentiality

Your coach must effectively navigate risky waters filled with sensitive, confidential information. Because a coach may be engaged with several members of the same organization or team, it’s vital to respect boundaries and maintain confidentiality.

8.       Influences how others view you

A coach helps your colleagues notice the changes you make, invites them to become involved in your development and possibly change their behavior in relation to you. A qualified, experienced coach can influence others’ views by:

  • Coaching your relationships, not just you
  • Challenging others’ assumptions that a problem resides entirely with you
  • Contracting with key colleagues to determine their desired outcomes of the coaching process and  assessing their willingness to share feedback and participate in conversations
  • Facilitating conversations between you and colleagues to share coaching insights, development plans and new expectations (in both directions)
  • Helping you solicit ongoing feedback on relevant behaviors

** Roles a Coach Should Not Play **

An effective coach will consciously avoid roles that hinder your ability to take independent action:

  • Cheerleader: Coaches should not give positive reinforcement from the sidelines for everything you do.
  • Therapist: Coaches should not deal strictly with your personal adjustment and psychological issues, even if they’re qualified and licensed to do so.
  • Executor of the Boss’s Wishes: Coaches should do more than force you to conform to a superior’s expectations, even when given an agenda when hired.
  • Shadow Manager: Coaches cannot advise you on business decisions or act on your behalf.
  • One-Sided Advocate: Coaches must look at all viewpoints and resist taking one side.

Beware of deciding purely on the look and feel of a coach. Be sure to balance feeling comfortable with the person against your need to be challenged, as you grow. You must believe a coach can help you change.

All the best to your communication success,
Larry Ferguson
Senior Consultant/President


* Vital Learning Corporation (2007). Providing Performance Feedback.
* Executive Coaching Solution(Davies-Black, 2007), Joan Kofodimos

P.S. – Like to know if coaching is right for your current situation? Just click the link below to schedule a complimentary, no obligation 30-minute call and find out -- http://my.timedriver.com/F8W1S


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