There are 7 key considerations to work through on the question of 'How do I choose which coaching company to work with?'
Let us look quickly at the top 3 first then get into more depth with the remaining factors:
Part one the top 3:
By far the most important three considerations when choosing a coaching company are:
Cultural alignment, Process, and Experience.
In summary, cultural alignment between a client and a coaching practise is essential to build a strong, sustainable, and effective relationship. Having values, norms, and styles in common enhances communication, trust, and reduces conflicts and misunderstanding.
Here is a question to give an example: What is the difference culturally between a huge long standing financial services organisation versus a small young funky ad agency?
The differences in the people are huge.
When I worked as an associate work for serious, polished shoes and tie coaching organisations. for example I came across a lot of highly intellectual experienced coaches.
The challenge is always to ensure there is chemistry with the individuals in your business? Unless, they too are serious taciturn straight up and down suit wearing people themselves this might not be the right fit. A lot of this comes down to values and personalities.
We worked with a client recently who had the key values of: Lead, deliver, care. As we read up on what this stood for, we knew which 3 coaches to put forward ensure the programme was successful.
The care or human part is tremendously important in certain business cultures. We are talking here about people and ensuring they are satisfied and fulfilled and looked after. The sad truth is that many businesses operate a bit like factories and push push push. They just want results at any cost, in truth, they are not our ideal client.
Beyond overall alignment with the organisation we need to consider individual chemistry. What commonalities there are between coach and coachee also matters and cannot be done at random or left to chance. Some practises offer chemistry meetings as part of their standard process so that the coachee has a chance to speak to more than one coach and go with the best fit.
This is an important factor and all the parties in the tripartite relationship need to understand what the experience and process will incorporate.
Our experience has shown us that when employees elect for themselves to join a coaching cohort the coaching it is at its most effective. There is a nuanced approach to offering an application process and selecting and engaging the selected coachees in the right way. Both individual’s personal needs and line manager brief needs be explored so that clear coaching aims can be recorded and agreed.
A key element to an effective process is offering coaching on the actual process of embedding personal and behavioural change itself, without this any initial results will not be sustained.
What technology and resources will be made available by the coaching practise? How are coaching objectives captured and reviewed. Will the practise offer reflective exercises to enable continuity between sessions and the opportunity for the coachee to explore their awareness and plans. Many coaching practises offer self-led video-based resources so the work can continue outside of sessions.
In what way will the coach follow up and ensure that there is follow through by the coachee and that they are held accountable. Most importantly agreeing upfront with everyone what is required to embrace the process and how success will be tracked and measured.
Other questions to ask within process are: Establishing which coaching objectives will be tackled in which session, whether a mid-point review planned and how will progress be tracked and measured against objectives.
The experience of both the Coaching Practice and coaches is key. This includes sector experience, number of coaching hours, corporate experience, as well as experience around in coaching for the specific needs of the members of the coachees. For example, if coaches are being asked to develop leaders what leadership experience do they have?
Or if perhaps they are being asked to help significantly with a stressful work environment what expert knowledge do, they in the realm of wellness and resilience?
It is key to ask about the coaching practice’s experience working in your sector as well as the industry experience of coaches on your panel.
Part 2 - Four further considerations:
Coaching accreditations, Level of investment, availability of related services
Have the coaches either significant hours of experience with well-known organisations or formal coaching accreditations? Here is an explanation of the most well-known and respected routes. The ICF (International Coaching Federation) offer very thorough in-depth coaching practice training.
The first level is ACC which is earned after 100 hours of paid coaching. PCC is the advanced qualification after 500 hours. If you can afford to bring in an MCC they will have racked up 2500 hours (they are a bit like magicians).
Other well reputed training pathways include ILM (institute for leadership and management) EMCC (European Coaching and Mentoring Council) and. For the ILM coaches attain either level 3, 5 or 7.
For the EMCC certification there are four levels Foundation, Practitioner, Senior Practitioner and Master they do not map exactly to one another but at least knowing a coach is progressing through one of the main pathways provides reassurance. If in doubt do ask as usually coaches are proud of the hard work they have put in through the rigorous testing and qualification procedures and will be happy to share their credentials.
Level of investment
Depending on the needs of the business a coaching practice with the appropriate level of experience can be selected. Some long existing high-end outfits charge as much as £600+ an hour for master coaches or equivalent levels of experience. This may well not be appropriate or feasible to support your middle management level but perhaps for C-suite in a bigger business it would be a good choice.
A coaching programme at the mid/senior level may work out at about £1500 per employee for a 5 sessions block. If you end up bringing in a practise to support wider requirements, they may have flexibility on rates.
Available of other additional services
e.g., training courses, accessibility, and logistics.
Once you have invested time and effort briefing the practice it could well make sense to leverage this insight and use the same people to deliver assessments, management training, wellbeing support strategic reviews of learning and development areas such as personal development plans. Many providers offer fixed courses on areas like Leadership, communication skills, teamwork, personal development plan management or coaching against performance to personal development plans. Other providers have a more flexible or customised approach which can be flexed to your needs.
Transform Coaching offers 5 different behavioural assessment tools which all have specific appropriate uses depending on the needs of a team.
Accessibility and logistics
Are you looking for in person coaching, will you have to pay for travel if you are. Perhaps a mix of in person and online would be more appropriate. What about courses on offer should these be online or in person and where is your team based?
Flexibility and customisation available
The cookie cutter approach does not suit everyone…
Some providers like to work to a rigid programme of X sessions on a fixed regularity. Others can flex more according to the team and individual needs. As far as training programmes are concerned it is worth establishing if the training materials are developed bespoke for you or out of a box and the same for all clients.
Transform offer the above training subjects on a customised basis. It is our belief that when each exercise and discussion relate back to specific business challenges and or relevant business situations it is of greater value.