The day has come. You’re ready to hire a coach for your business, a leader who has high potential, or maybe you’re in career transition.

Before you give your credit card digits to a new coach, what should you ask them to figure out if they’re qualified, competent, experienced, and a good fit?

Reasonable question. Right?

Would you allow a surgeon to put you under the knife without knowing if they’re competent or not?

Every time you board a bus, train, or airplane, you have faith the person behind the controls has been properly trained. Right?

In addition to coaching clients and their teams, I’m a Faculty Leader for Coach University, a blue chip coaching school accredited by the ICF.

One of the classes I’m teaching at the moment is Ethics in Coaching.

Part of my ethical responsibility as a trained professional is to educate potential clients about coaching and coaching competence.

Companies are downsizing, rightsizing to some, and trimming staff down to the bone. Those laid off decide to open a business. A coaching business.

Why? Coaching is the profession du jour. Anyone can call themselves a coach.

The barrier to entry to start a coaching business is low. In fact, almost nonexistent. Print a few business cards, put up a web site, and voila! Open for biz!

It’s not that simple.

My experience has shown that 95% of the time, when someone portrays themselves as a coach, they’re not. At best, they’re a consultant.

A good chunk of my clients come to me after having a poor experience with an unqualified so called -coach.- It’s an expensive lesson. Coaching is an investment both financially and in sweat equity to create a better future.

What’s the general public to do?

Margaret Krigbaum, MCC, wrote an essay for the book “Law and Ethics in Coaching” by Patrick Williams and Sharon Anderson.

With input from clients, she developed a list of questions a prospective client could ask a coach about competence.

Here’s a few questions you can ask before hiring a business or life coach:

  • Do you have a certification or credential?
  • What were the requirements to achieve the credential?
  • Did you attend a coach training program?
  • How long did it take to graduate from the program?
  • Is the program recognized by a neutral international professional coaching body with no ties to the program?
  • How will we as a client and coach work together?
  • Do you have an agreement?
  • What do you do on an ongoing basis to strengthen your skills as a coach?
  • Do you have a coach?
  • What do you consider your greatest strength as a coach?
  • As a professional coach, what areas do you need to improve?

If someone says they’re a coach,  the aforementioned questions would be a good place to start to learn more about them and their qualifications.

Perform the same due diligence in hiring a professional coach as you would with an attorney, accountant, doctor, etc.

Photo courtesy of Derek Bridges.

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