How to Measure Executive Coaching: Part 2 – Coach Credentials

Coach CredentialsThe last 15 years has seen a steady increase in companies embracing executive coaching as a core piece in their leadership development suite of tools. Those who’ve been coached swear by it. Others are still skeptical. A large component of the distrust stems from the lack of compulsory regulation in the industry, leaving consumers vulnerable as they try to discern the value they can expect from their coach.
Choosing a coach may be easier and lower risk than you think.  There are essentially 2 core components to evaluate in your choice of coach:
1. Are they qualified?
2. Are they a good fit?
Are they qualified?
Experience in business or as a leader doesn’t always make for a good mentor and that is even truer when it comes to coaching. Unfortunately many consultants see themselves as an expert in their field and then add the title of “Coach” to their name. Would you hire someone as an accountant or an architect if they were not certified by their profession? Coaching is also a profession with clear professional requirements in training and in conduct. When hiring a coach 2 questions will quickly tell you if they are a qualified professional; “Where did you get your coaching certification?” and “What International Coach Federation (ICF) credential do you hold?” If they are not credentialed and are not certified by a professional coaching body such as the ICF you are not hiring a professional.
The ICF is the largest international professional coaching body. They issue 3 levels of coaching credentials (ACC, PCC & MCC), they hold coach training schools up to a high standard and hold their coaches up to a code of ethics and a professional standard for the protection of the public, similar to other professions.
Be sure they have the training and credentialing and are not simply a consultant calling themselves a coach?
Are they a good fit?
Fit is a key pillar of the success of coaching – both for the individual receiving the coaching and the company who is hiring them. If a coach doesn’t mention the importance of fit, but sells him or herself as able to ‘coach anyone’ beware. Everyone has different styles of learning so the same coach may be loved by some and not by others. Even a good wine isn’t everyone’s taste! Fit is as important for the individual receiving the coaching as it is for the company who is hiring them. Once you’ve determined that a coach is qualified (credentialed and certified), you move on to checking for fit. This means that coachees (people receiving the coaching) benefit from having a selection of coaches to choose from. As we began working with executive teams it became necessary to build a diverse team of qualified Professional Coaches in order to give our clients choice – so they would easily find a good fit for their style of learning.
Fit for your organization is as important as fit for the individual coachee.  
Do they understand business?  They do not need to be an expert in your field (in fact that can be a disadvantage), but do need to have enough experience to understand the context in which the coachee exists.
Do they fit with your organizational culture and values? When you meet with them assess if their language, values and approach will fit with your organization.
Other questions to factor into your decision making process:
How long and at what level have they been coaching? 
Do they seem too cheap?
Surveys show that, at CEO and direct report level, Executive Coaches’ monthly fees are:37% over $1,000 per month, 24% at $800 to $1000 a month, with only 9% charging under $400. With more than 62% of coaches’ charging $800 or more, you should think twice about hiring a coach who thinks they’re only worth half that. If you’re paying at the low end, are you really getting value for money?
What do their clients say about them?
Do they offer other services that may complement the coaching? For example, we, measure the coaching effectiveness through a survey co-designed with our clients.
I hope that you found this 2 part article useful and that it takes some of the risk out of hiring a coach.  We’d love to hear your comments and how you’ve put any of this in practice.