The Risks of Hiring an Executive Coach

executive coach Sep 09, 2021

Executive coaching is a great way to get the support and guidance you need to reach your goals. But before signing on the dotted line, make sure you know what you're getting into. This article will discuss some of the risks one should be aware of when hiring an executive coach.

What is an executive coach?

An executive coach is a type of life coach that you will mostly find working with the CEO of a company or other high-level executives or people with managerial or leadership roles and responsibilities within a company, such as a managing director or other senior executives in the company. The executive coach's role is to facilitate the improvement of such people's leadership skills and work performance to meet the company's development objectives and goals.

Organizations themselves are usually the ones who would hire executive coaches when they see that one of their executives has a performance gap that needs to be addressed. It could be the human resources officer or the boss of the concerned executive who would do the recommendation and hiring of the executive coach. It could also be the C-suite executive himself who would hire an executive coach if he sees himself underperforming and unable to meet the company's goals.

It's a known fact that the coaching industry is an unregulated one, and as such, there can be many coaches out there who claim themselves as one even without having the proper training and credentials. Therefore, finding the right executive coach is of utmost importance because the whole company is at stake. Getting an executive coach who doesn't have expertise presents several risks to the company and the coached individual.

1. Not delivering what is intended to be done

As the person in charge of hiring an executive coach for your company, one thing to look out for when interviewing prospective coaches is to see whether they are just making promises without any concrete plan to achieve them. A good coach is someone who will work alongside you in meeting goals on your own terms and in line with the company's mission and objectives. The executive coach should not give solutions based on what he thinks is right because the company's goal should be achieved, not the coach's. The risk that comes when hiring a coach like this is problems of overpromising and underdelivering. An ineffective executive coach will suggest only short-term solutions or quick fixes. He will not take into consideration the larger picture of things. No matter how well-intentioned the coach is, he will not meet the company's goals without proper systems and methodologies. Transformational change over a period of time backed up by concrete plans is what the right coach should be able to deliver for the company that hires him.

2. Company culture and structure is ignored

An effective coach does not only interview the C-suite executive concerned. As part of his interview process, the coach can also ask questions from the executive's colleagues. This is done to understand better how other people from the company view the executive concerned. This will give the coach an idea of what is the leadership style of his client. In addition, a good coach will consider the culture of the company where his client is working and the systems in place within the organization. If a company finds itself working with a coach that is only focused on his client, it's a risk in the long run because the company is investing money on someone that might not give the results that they wanted. Also, no matter how good a coach is, the relationship might not work if his experience with a particular company structure differs from your structure. For example, a coach who is well-versed in working with executives from companies with a hierarchical structure might have challenges working with clients with a flat structure.

3. Just here for the profits

One risk that a company might face when hiring a coach is the financial investment made. Coaching services can cost a lot of money, with some coaches charging several hundreds of dollars per hour. Add the fact that coaching services can last for several months, and the fees all add up. This financial aspect becomes a problem when a company hires someone that is not doing what a coach is supposed to do. As the client, observe if your coach is working with you in an open-ended manner. If your coach is the type that asks you what you want to do on a particular business day without stating any long-term plan or endgame in mind, that's a clue that you're working with someone who's probably interested only in making money. A great coach sets a timetable for meeting goals with an end goal, and there should be a deadline for meeting objectives under the end goal. The coach should measure the client's progress based on metrics. On another note, some coaches can depend on their clients to depend on the coach for solutions instead of making the client work on their own terms. This results in a prolonged usage of the coach's services leading to more profits for the coach.

4. Incapable of understanding others and themselves

Coaches do not necessarily have to be psychologists, but it would be wise for an organization to hire someone with some psychology and human behavior background. Hiring a coach who is not trained in understanding how people think, especially people who work in a business or organizational setting, can lead to mishaps where a coach might give the wrong advice to the client and can result in spoiling and tolerating the client's behavior in areas that he is lacking.

It is also a good idea for an organization to hire a coach who has self-awareness of his strengths, weaknesses, and personality. Another key factor is hiring a coach that has been coached by somebody else before. This kind of coach has the experience and knows how to be coached to impart the same thing to his client. Coaches that have worked previously with organizations or teams are also a good bet.

Getting the right executive coach

Knowing the risks associated with hiring an executive coach, it becomes imperative for the organization or hiring officer to have a checklist of things that make a great coach. Before hiring one, interview multiple candidates and see if their personality, coaching style, and ability resonates with the intended client and the organization's goals and objectives. Organizations usually have a good network of people they associate with to check for good referrals from reputable coaches. Finally, determine the capability of a coach by asking their past clients and check their personal references.

Check if the prospective coach uses a concrete plan and coaching system to guide his client. There should be a target date for when the coaching will end. It shouldn't be indefinite, as that's a sign that a coach is trying to create dependency. Review the coach's educational background and certifications to ensure you are getting the services of a professional. From the initial interviews, see if the coach is willing to work on your own terms and conducts initial assessments, goal settings, company reviews, and regular meetings for progress review.

Executive coaching that is done right.

Don't let the risks that come with executive coaching scare you. They do happen but only when you didn't get the right coach you are looking for. The benefits can outweigh the risks. There are many executive coaches out there. By doing your due diligence and asking the correct questions during the initial hiring process, you can definitely hire the one to help you and your company achieve success. Managers and leaders of organizations can greatly improve their careers and develop the right skills once they receive the proper coaching service from the right executive coach.


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