By Michael Shelton

Coaching and Consulting ServicesThe pain caused by change might be great.

The pain where you are is greater. We usually don’t move before that happens.

If you are one of lucky few who can figure out what needs to be done next on your own, congratulations! For most of the rest of us, we need a plan and some help as a project leader or manager. That’s where a qualified coach can get you moving and stay on track.

What should you look for in a coach? You’ve probably hired more than one employee, consultant or contractor in your career as a manager. You can use many of the same interviewing and hiring techniques for a coach. A coaching engagement is a long term plan to invest your time, money and effort. Be patient and look for these qualities in a coach before making a hiring decision.

Accomplishments: A coach should have a strong track record of success in the area where you want guidance. For example, if you need help with creating a rock-solid plan and identifying action steps, then look for a coach with a string of big wins in transaction or project management.

Chemistry: Many hiring decisions you make as a leader come down to gut feel for the candidate. The same rule applies for hiring a coach. The engagement will be much more successful if you like the coach. Look for someone you trust and with whom you have an unforced communication rhythm.

Empathy: Your coach must be a better listener than a talker. If most of your interview is spent listening to your coach go on and on about how great they are, keep looking for a more empathetic coach. Genuine listening ability is rare but it’s worth the effort to find a coach that has it.

Organization: Your coach should have basic executive ability to keep your coaching program on track. Look for professionally drafted coaching agreements, checklists, surveys and forms. Be wary of someone who coaches by the seat of his pants. You should know the coaching plan and the expected results.

Communication: Look for a coach that has reliable communication systems in place. Some excellent coaches use only a telephone to communicate with clients. Others have a high tech system of secure collaboration tools with video conferencing, document sharing and communication tracking. Look for the ability to use social media, text or email for questions that come up between coaching sessions. Match your technology skills to the coaches’ communication tools.

Find a coach with a long track record of accomplishments, good chemistry, great listening skills, awesome project organization and reliable communication systems. You’ll get much more out of your investment in the relationship with a coach that has these qualities.

Michael Shelton is President and CEO of Shelton Business Services, LLC providing coaching and consulting.

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