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Seven key questions you must ask before hiring an executive coach

By Roger Heins

It doesn’t matter whether you’re running a garden center, a veterinarian lab or a retail business, if you’re looking at bringing in an executive coach, you’re looking at the prospects with the same question in mind. Is this really the person who can help me?
Before you hire anyone, be sure to find the answers to these key questions:
1. What training are you involved in right now? It doesn’t matter what kind of training the coach previously did. You want to know whether this is a person who’s committed to ongoing education. Is he or she continually learning new things? Do they practice what they preach? Or do they just talk the talk without walking the coaching walk.
2. Do you belong to a coaching organization, and if so, which one? The International Coaching Federation is the single biggest coaching organization in the world. This global powerhouse is working hard to establish professional accreditations, standards, and ongoing education for coaches— that’s why professional coaches want to be a part of it.
3. Is this your full-time job? No one is saying you can’t have success working with a part-time coach. But if you’re looking for someone who’s committed to coaching and to you as a client, a full-time professional might be better able to meet your needs and schedule.
4. What do you think of…? Ask your potential coach what he or she thinks about a particular problem that is close to one you face. Give the coach a sense of why you are asking the question, and then listen closely to see if the coach is selling you or listening to you. If he’s listening, he’ll be asking good questions and helping you to ask good questions of him.
5. What’s your fee schedule? A professional coach or executive coaching consultant will be upfront about how much they charge. There won’t be any hidden costs. Many confident coaches will also offer you the opportunity to try out coaching for free to see whether it’s something you can benefit from and whether you’re a good match.
6. Do you have a guarantee? Some executive coaching consultants guarantee their results, some don’t. It’s worth asking to find out more about how they work and how they measure their results.
7. Is this person genuinely interested in me? This last question is one you need to ask yourself. It’s a gut feeling. Do you sense that this is someone you’d like to work with? Is this person interested in you or more interested in selling his services? Do you feel good about this coach?
Expect the coach to ask you some pretty tough questions themselves to see if you’re the kind of client he or she wants. A good coach in business (just like in athletics) only wants to work with those who want to succeed. If your potential coach doesn’t ask probing questions about what you need to get out of the coaching relationship, then your satisfaction and success may not be foremost on his or her mind.
Trust your intuition. Executive coaching consultants are in business to help you succeed, and it’s up to you to pick the one that is best for you.

Roger G. Heins, principal of RG Heins & Associates, LLC, packs 20 years of industry experience and extensive coach training into his efforts to build successful leaders and businesses within the green industry. He also hosts an online forum for industry executives at www.greenexecutives.com. Reach him at roger@rogerheins.com or at 970-226-8588 or www.rogerheins.com.

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