I got into coaching by undertaking a pretty amazing coaching programme myself. Through it I unlocked goals that I had wanted to achieve for years, including setting up my own business and finding happiness in various areas of my personal life. For many years I considered myself lucky, that my introduction to coaching was such a positive one. However, it wasn’t just luck. There were a few things that I researched before embarking on a coaching programme and, if you’re thinking about getting a coach, you should consider these too.

Here’s 5 things that are crucial to make sure you select the right coach for yourself. 

1. Follow your gut instinct and look for that good fit. Research keeps on showing us that the most important factor that contributes to coaching success is the relationship between coach and coachee. Choose your coach based on somebody who you feel comfortable talking to and enjoy spending time with. Check how safe you feel with them and listen to your gut – does this feel right? Coaches will offer you a chemistry session or a free meeting that will help you explore this. If they don’t then I’d look for someone else.

 2. Check for specific expertise. This is particularly important if you have a good idea as to what you would like to get from a coach. Coaches work in different ways and will be qualified to use different tools. If, for example, you know that you want to change your thinking around certain limiting beliefs, make sure that you hire a coach who is qualified to help with that – e.g. has been trained in cognitive behavioural coaching. If you seek a coach to help you stop smoking then look for a health coaching qualification. 

3. Ask who provides them with coach-supervision. Coaches who are truly invested in the discipline will also be working on themselves. A qualified coach who is a member of an awarding body, e.g. the International Coach Federation (ICF) or Association for Coaching (AC), should be undertaken supervision regularly if they take their work seriously. Coaches who are supervised will ensure that they get the support that they need to be able to work with you as best as they can.

4. Include your line manager. If coaching is being provided as part of a leadership programme or through work check that your coach will also meet your line manager, typically before and after the coaching sessions. By having a triparty meeting before starting on the coaching session you can engage your line manager on the goals that you want to achieve. It also irons out any questions around confidentiality and reporting. 

5. Check training, qualifications and experience. All three matter. As coaching in the UK is unregulated many call themselves coaches even though they might have attended a one day course. Of course you will want to avoid these. Be careful as well to not choose a coach who has done exactly what you would like to do, irrespective of how much knowledge the person has in the area that you want to be coached on. That’s mentoring. Remember that great coaching allows you to explore what you want to achieve by partnering with you. Many unqualified coaches will simply tell you what to do, which most of the time might not be what you actually want to do. Just because it worked for them it doesn’t mean that it’s going to work for you. To be safe, look for coaches who have credentials. For example, the ICF has 3 levels of coach accreditation – ACC, PCC and MCC, with MCC being the most experienced.  

Have you had coaching before? What did you look for in your coach?