Things to Consider

If you're thinking of hiring a coach . . .

- Whether you represent a company or are looking for yourself, interview several coaches. Coaching is a universal method, but all coaches practice that method with their own style. Ask your interviewees about their backgrounds. And pick someone with whom you feel comfortable. Either as a company representative or as an individual, you'll be talking about important things with this person.

- If you represent a company and want someone to work with multiple employees, think about what you want most: change in a particular dynamic? Better behavior from employees? Not sure, but you know something's wrong? Try to articulate the goal as clearly as possible.

- Likewise, if you're an individual, try to come into the interview stage knowing what you want to work on. The coaches you talk to will ask what you want your focus to be. The agenda for the relationship is yours, not the coach's.

- Expect questions rather than advice. Coaches ask lots of questions and make a lot of requests. Sometimes they'll make suggestions, and they often comment. Every once in awhile they'll give you some advice. The relationship isn't about telling you or your employees what to do. A coach acts more like a mirror, reflecting clients' beliefs and attitudes so these things can be seen more easily. And a coach will remind clients about the things they need and want, and ask for action.

- Know that there's work involved. Coaching involves field work or homework for the client between calls (see FAQs), and the client's efforts are what make coaching work. The more motivated the client, the better and more effective the relationship. In a corporate setting, the initial goal often is establishing trust; agreeing on how to move forward is part of the process.

- Enjoy the dynamic. The coaching relationship is truly unique, and the sense of connection between coach and client charges it with potential, opening doors in unexpected ways. So look for someone you can enjoy being with. You'll know when the fit is right because you'll find yourself talking to the person honestly, and you'll be able to picture employees in your company doing the same.