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Exploring career mentoring and coaching
Exploring career mentoring and coaching

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4 Finding the right coach

The 2016 International Coaching Federation’s ‘Global Coaching Study’ estimates that there are approximately 53,300 professional coach practitioners worldwide, with approximately 21,400 (the largest share) operating in Western Europe.

So, how do you choose the right one for you?

A photograph of an internet search engine.
Figure 4 Search criteria

Budkowski (2016) lists some key considerations in his blog post ‘How to choose the right coach: 15 simple principles to follow’, including:

  • Remember that you are the client – you have the right to have doubts and ask questions.
  • Check where the coach was trained.
  • What is their real coaching experience, e.g. how many hours, how many clients?
  • How do they monitor/assess the quality of their work?
  • Does the coach follow written ethical principles?
  • Do you get along?
  • Have they produced content, e.g. blogs, articles etc.?
  • Does he or she continue to learn?
  • What opinions do previous clients have?
  • Are goals set during the first session?
  • Do you make a contract?

Do your research. As Budkowski suggests, seek out testimonials and recommendations. Most coaches will have a website that tells you a little about them, their experience, their specialisms etc. Having the chance for a ‘chemistry session’, to check whether you can build rapport and trust with each other, can be very valuable. Many coaches offer an initial conversation free of charge.

Even if a specific coach has been recommended or put forward by your employer, meeting or talking to them before you agree to work together is an important part of the process.

You should also consider the mechanics of the relationship – are you happy to be coached via telephone or Skype, or would you rather have face-to-face interactions with your coach?

Activity 4 Key characteristics of your ideal coach

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

You’ve looked at the skills of a good coach (Week 3) and considered what you might discuss with them (Activity 1, Week 5), but what characteristics are you looking for in the individual you choose?

For example:

  • Is there any specific knowledge or expertise you would like them to have, e.g. small business experience?
  • Would their gender make a difference to you?
  • Would they need to be older than you?
  • Do they need to have the same occupational background as you?
  • Do they need to have similar interests or would you prefer them to have a completely different perspective on life and work (coaches often share some personal information on their websites etc.)?

Write a summary of your thoughts in the box below.

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Did you decide you’d prefer a coach who was very similar to you? Sometimes, talking to someone with a very different perspective can be transformational! Talking to your prospective coach before signing up to a series of sessions is so important. The key element of a good coaching relationship is rapport, and that is something you can only gauge when you begin a conversation.

If your perspective for this course is to explore becoming a coach yourself – think about the characteristics you came up with – how does that reflect on the potential client group you are considering? Does it matter if the type of coach you would like for yourself is different from the type of coach you want to be?