Currently, coaching is an unregulated industry. Anyone can call themselves a coach, with or without relevant experience or training. Some coaching ‘qualifications’ are of dubious merit, and navigating between the array of coaching bodies means swimming through an alphabet soup of acronyms.
If you hold the remit to manage executive coaching in your organisation, it can be hard to know exactly what you are buying and whether you are investing wisely. How can you be sure you are choosing a truly professional coach who will add value to your people and your business?
At Fourthpath we have identified six criteria that point to a coach’s professionalism in learning their craft and continuing to develop their practice:
Qualifications – look for coaching qualifications with real rigour, such as university-level awards or programmes accredited by a coaching body. An informal weekend course is no equivalent to a post-graduate degree – ask about tuition approaches, required off-course hours, observed practice of coaching skills and assessment methods.
Coaching body membership – this denotes commitment to high standards of practice and working to a code of ethics. Here come the acronyms: leading bodies include the EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council), ICF (International Coach Federation) and AC (Association for Coaching). Coaching psychologists may be members of the BPS and its SGCP (British Psychological Society Special Group in Coaching Psychology).
Experience – the 2017 EMCC report ‘The State of Play in European Coaching & Mentoring’ surveyed nearly 3,000 coaches and found over 1,000 had just 0-3 years’ experience. Only 589, less than 20% of coaches, had more than 12 years’ experience. Ask about both years of experience, and total number of client contact hours.
Development – how does your prospective coach keep up to date? Development is the counterpoint to experience, with new fields such as neuroscience contributing insights to coaching that simply weren’t available a decade ago. A coach develops through conferences, reading widely and skills-building courses.
Supervision – coaching draws many of its practices from counselling and therapy. These professions mandate supervision, where practitioners discuss their work, preserving client anonymity, with a more experienced supervisor. This quality assurance supports best practices, ethics, development and the practitioner’s own resilience in working with clients’ problems and feelings. Coaching supervision is increasingly recognised as a ‘must do’ rather than a ‘nice to do’ for effective practice and is a hallmark of a coach’s professionalism.
Testimonials – at its best, coaching can have a transformational impact on awareness, performance, fulfilment and wellbeing. Testimonials illustrate how a coach has made a difference to clients and added business value, so ask to see what others have gained.
Coaching is a young industry, gradually increasing professional standards. Some coaches may do good work without meeting these criteria, however a professional coach will have the majority covered and be happy to discuss their credentials.
Fourthpath onboards professional coaches to our executive coaching faculty using these criteria.
Contact us to learn more about our managed coaching services.