There are lots of great reasons to engage executive coaching firms, such as developing leadership behaviors, building communication skills, and helping drive organizational transition and change. However, with literally tens of thousands of coaches and coaching firms open for business, how do you find the best coaching company for YOU and YOUR ORGANIZATION in your area?
Here are several essential tips to help you in your search:
1. Make Sure Your Executive Coaching Firm has Certified Coaches
This is an easy, but crucial way to separate the wheat from the chaff. Unlike some other professions, there are few legal or regulatory parameters — just about anyone can put up a website, print some business cards, and call themselves a coach.
The Society for Human Resources Managers (SHRM) puts it bluntly when advising its members on what to look for in choosing a coach… “Find certified coaches. The nonprofit International Coach Federation provides academic coaching guidelines, credentials, and accreditation to schools.” This is a surefire way to begin to cull the herd. If the coaching company does not offer ICF-certified executive coaches, keep looking!
2. Find a Great Coaching Firm in Your Area
How do you define “your area?” We suggest you consider two elements. First, some people really do best with face-to-face coaching engagements. For a variety of reasons, they will get the best results if they are woking with their coach in-person. Many coaching firms are pushing virtual-only meetings and remote coaching sessions. So if you believe that an in-person experience is right for you, make sure the coaching company offers that option.
For companies with multiple locations, it might also be important for coaches to be available in a number of regions around the country. If your organization has offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, you’ll want a coaching company with a similar geography or a nationwide network.
Second, the other side of the coin is for those who are comfortable and thrive in remote, online environments. A virtual option is especially relevant if your company has project team members scattered across the country, or globe — remote coaching may be the only realistic option.
After exploring and determining which platform is best for you, your coaching company should have the capacity to offer effective leadership and executive coaching both ways — in-person and remotely — for your organization.
3. Make Sure You Go Beyond Feel-Good Coaching
Some executive coaching firms put a premium on making sure that everyone is happy and “feels good” at the conclusion of their coaching engagement. That’s nice, but did you establish specific goals before you began the coaching engagement)? Are the goals most important to you and your organization (not the coaching firm’s priorities, but yours)? Did you achieve the goals you set out for yourself?
Was there a plan in place to work through goal-setting, assessments, coaching, and tracking behavioral changes and progress to help you reach your stated goals? The top executive coaching companies are specific. They have plans. They insist on defining goals with you. They are results-driven. In fact, they can seem kind of demanding! And that’s exactly what you want from your coaching company.
4. Great Executive Coaching Firms have Lots of Arrows in their Quiver
Beware of any coach or executive coaching firm that has only one way of working. One process. One coaching framework. One go-to assessment tool. There should be no one-size-fits-all. There’s no such thing as “This is the best way.” There’s only “This is the best way… for you.”
Seek out a coaching company that offers a variety of recognized assessment tools, including DiSC Assessments, 360° Leadership Assessments, EQ-i 2.0, Five Behaviors Team Assessment, and more. Make sure the coaching company you select has many paths to help you explore and define your goals, action plans to map out changes to mindset and behavior to help your leaders grow, and specific ways to measure results.
5. Can You Pick Which Coach is Best Suited for You and Your Organization?
An executive coach may be properly certified, have excellent reviews, and a wealth of experience and expertise. But they are human too. They have individual personalities, senses of humor, and ways of getting things done. Will you achieve your goals with a coach who is a bit laid back, or who has a more direct approach? Serious or funny? Uses case studies? Favors journaling? Role playing? There are great coaches who leverage their background in accounting, human resources, management, and social work. Many are former executives who can tap into their own experiences in the C-suite.
Look for an executive coaching firms that offer a group of diverse executive coaches and coaching options — coaches that will all be expert in their craft, but will also be a great fit for YOU.
6. Make Sure Your Coach Works for the Individual AND the Organization
Individual executive coaching at your company should not simply go off on its own, unconnected to organizational priorities. Seek out a coaching company that includes something like an “alignment meeting.” That means that individual coaching needs and goals — for example, better communication — relate to and support broader organizational goals, such as a need for established employees to communicate and work better with new hires and younger employees. In this way, coaching serves both individual and organizational goals.
7. Demand Great Customer Service
You want to feel comfortable whenever you interact with your coaching company. Will they care about you? Will they be focused on your needs? Will they be accessible? Will they know who you are when you call?
At some large high-profile coaching companies, you may be little more than a client number and contact with your organization may be sporadic. Very small coaching companies may struggle to keep up to date with status and progress reports and find it even harder to serve the needs of both the executive being coached and the client’s organization. Insist on executive coaching firms that are passionate about customer service and can deliver on that passion.
Take the Next Step!
To learn more about leadership, how executive coaching firms can help you and your organization — and to see if we might be a good fit — contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.