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Hiring a Performance Coach: The 5 Things You Should Know

Performance-Coach-Patty-ThompsonAfter several years of successful business consulting, Patty Thompson, CSE’s Senior Manager of Learning and Development, recently earned her Coaching Certificate from the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD).  We sat down with Patty to not only learn more about her achievement, but what it means to you--5 very important things you need to know before hiring a performance coach:

  1. WHAT is a performance coach
  2. WHEN do you use one
  3. BENEFITS of using one
  4. QUALIFICATIONS to look for
  5. QUESTIONS to ask

CSE: What exactly is a performance coach?
Patty: A workplace learning & performance coach (WLP) works with an individual to challenge and support him or her in achieving higher levels of performance while allowing them to bring out the best in themselves and those around them. Performance coaching helps the individual align beliefs and actions to create a desired outcome, and build relationships based on honesty and accountability.

CSE: When would someone use a performance coach?
Patty: The reason someone would use a performance coach would be to help them better focus on goals and development for the future, or to use data from current surveys or focus groups to solve immediate challenges. A WLP Coach must link their approach to what is happening within the organization such as career development, mentoring, coaching, recruiting, consulting, training, performance appraisals, organizational development and structure. In other words, the performance coach will want to know the answer to the question, “Where does performance coaching fit in to your organization?”

For example, if “change in the organization” is a challenge for a client, first the performance coach will determine if “change” is rooted in processes and policies, structure and realignment.  Then he or she may work with leaders to make modifications to their leadership style that will better enable them to embrace the company culture and progressive movement.

CSE: What are the benefits of using a performance coach?
Patty: Performance Coaches...

  • Help the client explore alternative ideas, solutions, evaluate options and make decisions
  • Challenge client assumptions and perspectives to provoke new ideas, stretch goals, and stimulate action
  • Provide reinforcement for immediate action
  • Establish an action plan with results that are attainable, measurable and specific

CSE: What should someone look for when choosing a performance coach?
Patty: Performance coaches come in many different shapes and sizes and employ a variety of methodologies.

There are 3 items to consider:

  1. Determine if an external or internal performance coach will best support you in achieving organizational goals
  2. Find a performance coach that specializes in a particular kind of coaching or approach; career, performance coaching, leadership coaching, life coaching, etc.
  3. A client should always interview several perspective coaches to determine the right fit. Consider the coach’s personality, work experience, coaching experience, education, gender, age, etc.  

CSE: What questions should we ask a potential performance coach?
Patty: To try and determine fit and appropriate experience, here are a few questions you may want to ask a coach:

  • What experience do you have in WLP coaching?
  • What business background do you have?
  • How did you get into coaching?
  • What skills or expertise do you have?
  • What experience do you have with my issue?
  • How many WLP coaching clients have you had?
  • What is your focus/philosophy of coaching?
  • How will I know if the coaching has been successful?

I also recommend some soul searching to determine your own readiness level for performance coaching.  The endeavor can waste valuable resources if you are not prepared for what is to come.  You are ready to successfully be coached if you meet the criteria below:

  • You are ready for performance improvement and have asked for coaching help
  • You are willing to make coaching meetings, and the work in between the meetings, a priority
  • You are open to data gathering (363 review, employee surveys, focus groups) regarding perceived strengths and challenges
  • You are open to being accountable for change and development

Thank you, Patty!  It is clear that performance coaching can really make the difference between being good at what you do and being effective at what you do; greatly impacting efficiency and ROI.  If you would like to learn more about how performance coaching could amp up your or your team’s performance, please contact CSE!