Tip #1 – Avoid One-Size Fits all Approach. Great coaches always have more than one set of resources to draw from. Flexibility of approach is paramount since no two organizations problems or goals will be the same. Find a coach trained or experienced with as many different types of organizations as possible.
Tip #2 – Look for Clear Terms and Conditions. Always begin with a trial period. This can be agreed to even before a contract is agreed upon. Once a good fit is confirmed then signing a contract is a sign of both parties wanting to make sure the arrangement will work. Clearly outline payment terms, fees and schedules. Establish a policy about conflicts of interest and confidentiality. Make resonable agreements about cancellations and attendance policies. Agree on costs that may be extra like materials, additional insurances, travel days. Begin the contractual relationship with the end in mind. You don’t want the consulting/coaching to go on forever. While the relationship may last years, the terms for ending the relationship or suspending the relationship should be crystal clear. In many ways the end of the relationship is the goal!
Tip #3 – Immediately get Clear about What You Want. The very first conversation/negotiation with your consultant/coach should be about goals and outcomes. If you don’t know what you want how will you know if you are getting what you are paying for? You should ask yourself, “What will I have after the coaching is over?”. If you don’t even know where to start then you need a “needs assessment”. After the results of the needs assessment are presented to you then you can decide what “needs” should be addressed and the desired outcomes.
Tip #4 – Resist the Urge to Hire Industry Specific Experts – Selecting someone with a different background is valuable. Be willing to explore different ideas and cross-pollinate best practices. Find someone with a wide variety of ideas and experience.
Tip #5 – Focus on Performance over Style – A good looking website or a advanced degree in a certain field of study is NOT an indication of a great coach/consultant/mentor. Test the conversations, test the meetings, test through trial sessions and you will soon discover a good coach from one who just talks the talk. Always begin the relationship/contract with a trial period.