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ATD Blog

Looking to Hire a Coach?


Mon Feb 26 2024

Looking to Hire a Coach?

It’s about that time when New Year’s resolutions begin to fade and life can toss us little surprises. Are you seeing tangible results on your resolutions? Are the goals you set under the sparkle of New Year’s Eve still realistic? Everyone knows that finding the right coach can turbo boost well-intentioned resolutions into actionable, measurable change. But how can you know if your investment in a professional coach is likely to pay off? Here are five ways to ensure your time and effort yields results.

1. Reflect on Personal Goals and Objectives

What crossroads are you at? What is stuck, and what needs to shift? Many of us are in some form of life transition; these questions encourage us to step back and reflect. What do you hope to accomplish by partnering with a coach? By taking a little time to reflect on what you want to get out of coaching, you’ll be in a better position to choose the right practitioner. A recent Gallup article makes a strong case for using a strengths-based approach for how to articulate and achieve your toughest goals.


2. Identify What Makes Change Hard for You

When a change is first proposed, most people immediately want to know three things: why it’s happening; how it will affect them; and what the broader impact will be on their work, organization, or community. With major change taking place constantly, whether personal, environmental, political, or organizational, we’ve had to rewire ourselves as a species to become more change-capable. It’s universal, yet it’s also uniquely personal. At times, something may get in our way and prevent us from moving forward.

To help tease this out, ask yourself:

  • What is stopping me from dreaming freely?

  • What makes this change or new opportunity hard to get done?

  • What will I lose if I just stay safe, stay here, and don’t chase my dreams?

Peter Block, who has written books about community-building and civic engagement, has some questions: What have you said yes to that you no longer really believe in? What is the gift you have that you do not fully acknowledge?

Mindfulness requires emotional flexibility and effort; however, it can catapult insights with regular practice. With a higher emotional granularity, you’ll be in a better position to bring these insights into your coaching sessions.

3. Do Your Homework

Educate yourself about what professional coaching entails and what differentiates the profession from therapy or even mentoring. Each discipline, while swimming in similar waters, has different approaches, techniques, and outcomes. Should you arrive at coaching as the best fit, you will need to do your due diligence to evaluate your prospective coach’s experience and credentials. Because coaching is currently an unregulated industry, and not all certifications are equal, you want to know what you are getting. As with any professional hire, you will want to vet all candidates with careful intention. One of the most respected coaching organizations is the International Coaching Federation (ICF), which offers coach training, certification, and credentialing. Anyone with an ICF credential has undergone in-depth education and training, met stringent experience requirements, and demonstrated a strong commitment to both ethical decision making and excellence in coaching.


A coach with previous business experience, particularly in your industry, may also provide valuable insights. You can also search for specialized coaching niches or experience areas, such as organizational, small business, or wellness coaching. However, generally, experience in your specific industry isn’t as important as finding someone who will be able to validate and empathize with you in an authentic way.

4. Schedule Those Chemistry Calls

Once you’re ready, talk with at least three prospective coaches. Ask each coach about their experience, skills, and qualifications. It’s also very acceptable to request references. Coaching creates an important relationship, so you will need to look for a personal connection, trust, and ultimately a good “fit.” Here are some questions to help guide these conversations:

  • What is your coaching specialty or areas in which you most often work?

  • What types of organizations do you work with most often? And, at what levels (for example, executives, upper management, middle management)?

  • What types of assessments are you certified to deliver?

  • What are some of your coaching success stories (specific examples of clients who have succeeded as a result of coaching)?

5. Check Your Gut

The fifth and perhaps most important part of the selection process is to trust your gut. Somatic intelligence is the ability to understand and interpret bodily sensations, emotions, and physical experiences to help guide decision making. What nonverbal cues, body language, or subtle physical signals did you notice during each of your chemistry calls? Did certain conversations evoke a sense of calm and connection whereas others created tension in your body? What is your intuition telling you about who will ultimately provide the best fit given your specific goals and life experiences? By staying attuned to your body and understanding its signals, you will make more informed, intuitive, and balanced decisions.

The bottom line is that selecting the right coach can bring profound rewards and transformation. Follow these five tips to supercharge your search!

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