Coaching – how do you know what you are buying?


When you create a trusted coaching environment, people work hard to become a better version of themselves and it is a privilege to have that trust and freedom when you work as a coach.

However, the challenge for our industry is that coaching is not regulated.

So, when a business is looking for a coach to work with key members of their team, how do business owners, HR directors and talent directors know what they are buying? And, how do you know what you should be asking a coach before bringing them into your organisation?

The majority of business coaches are professional, have integrity and deliver high impact results. However, there are some that cause concern, as they don’t have the core skills needed. These are the people that have the potential to do more harm than good and you need to ensure you don’t invite these people into your organisation.

Most quality coaches work with coaching supervisors to help develop their skills, discuss challenging situations and improve their abilities. The key to picking a good coach is to ask them lots of questions.

In this earlier blog I discussed some of the key qualities to look for in a coach but it’s also important to consider how they maintain and develop their skills. In this blog I look at the importance of coaching supervision and offer three questions that you should ask every potential coach about their own supervision and support.

  1. How have you developed your coaching profession?

You need to know if they meet your expectations, mirror your business values and have the skills and knowledge to help enhance personal development in your organisation.

Their answer should include information about their coaching training and accreditation, what feedback they get from clients, what sort of supervision and professional development they have in place and how many years of experience they have – both as a coach and in your sector.

  1. What coaching supervision do you have and what does it mean to you?

Coaching supervision is a critical element of coaching best practice. It allows coaches to improve on how they operate, addresses key concerns and ensures they are delivering quality support that is having an impact on the people and the organisations they work with.

By asking this question, firstly, you will understand if they have supervision. Their answer should highlight how supervision is supporting their professional development, providing counsel, verifying their skills, creating a safe space to discuss the challenges they face and also delivering support if they have concerns.

Crucially, it’s a confidential space where they can talk about any issues they are struggling to manage, check if they are delivering effective coaching and improve their skills.

  1. What does your coaching supervision look like and how has it helped you to become a better coach?

Coaching supervision can take many shapes, from organised groups, peer-to-peer or, like myself, one-on-one support. Ask how regularly they see the supervisor and make sure it is proportionate to the amount of coaching they do. It’s important to know they always have someone to call on if they need advice on how to handle challenging situations.

Ask how they approach each session. Coaches need to attend each supervision session having reflected on what has worked well and what could have been done differently. Coaches may take in a specific issue they have concerns about or it could just be a general review of their coaching in the recent past.

It’s important they discuss feedback they’ve had from clients and also consider new developments and thinking in coaching to see if it has any benefit in their line of work.

Essentially, working with a supervisor is similar to a normal coaching relationship so it will provide key insights into their thinking, how they operate and what they will bring to your business.
Coaches can help deliver a big impact for individuals and their wider organisations. By making sure you get a coach with the right experience, development and supervision, you can be sure you get to see some real benefits for your business.