Selecting the ‘best fit’ coach is a great challenge to anyone faced with a vast array of choices of coaching providers on the market and especially to those new to coaching. Some decide to go with a recommendation, word of mouth, testimonial or advice, some look at coaches’ qualifications, experience and CVs, some search the internet and others arrange a ‘chemistry’ meeting or call. All of these methods have their advantages but which one is the best? Should the choice be based on your intuitive feel for who has the ‘chemistry’ to work with you or your business or should you analyze a set of formal defined criteria to find the perfect match?

Research documented a range of factors affecting success of coaching and differentiated a quality of a relationship between the coach and coachee as a critical one. However, getting on with a coach and an intuitive feeling that a coach is ‘right’ does not necessarily mean that they have the required skills, knowledge or capability. On the other hand, a coach that satisfies formal criteria may not be able to create the quality of a rapport essential to enable the successful outcome for a particular coachee.

So what is the best option for a buyer of coaching? First of all you need to clarify your own objectives and what you are looking to achieve from coaching. Then, ideally combine several methods of selection to accumulate the benefits, counteract some of the downsides and take account of both the intuitive and rational criteria. The criteria to consider when selecting a coach are:

  • Relationship – As I have mentioned already – how would they build rapport in a coaching relationship?
  • Style – How would they work to achieve your objectives, how do they articulate their approach?
  • Process – How does their process work, how would they measure success?
  • Experience – What experience do they have, can they share any success stories?
  • Credentials – What credentials and accreditations do they have, what professional development do they do?
  • Business awareness – What relevant business experience do they have?

Some of these criteria, such as process, experience, credentials and business awareness are more quantitative and easier to match to specific requirements. Criteria such as relationship and style are hard to measure and are probably best judged using your intuition as you interact with a potential coach. However both have value and relying on only one will lead to a choice that conforms to your usual decisions, rather than optimal decision on selecting the ‘best fit coach’.