There are an ever-increasing number of coaching courses out there, and on first glance they all seem pretty similar, right? So, what are the differences and how do you choose the correct one for you?
In 2014, as I was about to move out of London, I knew I wanted to formalise my coaching experience. So, it wasn’t about whether I should or shouldn’t become qualified, it was ensuring that I was spending my hard-earned cash in the best possible way.
Based on my personal experience, and in speaking with numerous potential & past participants, here is a quick checklist to follow:
What is the reason behind your decision to pursue coach training? Has your company offered to fund it as part of your self-development, a culture change initiative? Are you considering a career change? Have you found yourself coaching by default and want to formalise it? Do you see it as an add on or a stand alone?
There are many levels of training out there – Awards, Certificates, Diploma’s, Advanced, Masters
Be honest with yourself. Do you want a taste of coaching or a deep dive? Ask yourself some questions such as: what is the significance of attaining a recognised certificate in coaching for you personally – confidence, credibility, having a USP?
Consider the reputation of the company delivering the training. Do they practice what they preach? Are they well respected in the field?
Is the course itself awarded by a professionally recognised body?
And as it’s an executive coaching course you are after I would recommend that you pick one that has been accredited by a professional coaching organisation; either The Association for Coaching (AC), The European Mentoring Coaching Council (EMCC) or The International Coach Federation (ICF).
Take a detailed look at the syllabus. What areas are covered? Does it offer a combination of tried and trusted coaching techniques, alongside newer and developing fields? Can you understand the process, and does it provide the breadth and depth you are after?
See what information is available about the coach training tutors and their own expertise. Does the course sound practical and hands on, or more academic? Which would be most suited to your own learning style?
What are the main course requirements, and can you meet them? This isn’t just a question about whether there is an entry requirement (which there might be – so be sure that you meet it), but what’s your level of commitment?
Consider how many contact teaching hours are involved? Where will the course take place and when? How long does the course take? How much personal study time will be involved and what sort of written work (or evidence of practical work) will you be required to produce? What time can you commit given your current schedule?
An accredited coaching course will be demanding. A good course should be blend of coaching theory and practical skills development and the faculty/programme coordinator should support you, helping you to succeed.
Talk to others
If you’ve already checked the items above, it’s definitely worth speaking with someone before making your final decision.
See if you can have a chat with a member of the Faculty Team – you want to get a flavour not only of the course, also a sense of who will be running it. Remember to have a few questions jotted down, although this is when you can start tapping into your intuition and gaining an idea if this is the right fit for you. If possible, I’d suggest attending an open event/taster session/talk hosted by the course training provider too.
In addition, there is nothing more valuable that hearing from someone who has already successfully completed the coach training programme you are interested in. Read the testimonials, do you know any past participants, or can the course provider link you up with someone for an informal conversation?
For example, is there an Alumni group you can stay in touch with and do the programme providers offer any Continuous Professional Development (CPD) events for coaches/leaders after you gain your certificate?
Where will you choose to do you qualification? Will that lead to a useful network once the course is complete? Or has virtual working eliminated the need for localised connections? Perhaps in fact you want to expand your network to new regions.
Value for Money
I do feel this is an area where you get what you pay for. But do your research, check that the fees for the course you are applying for fit within the market expectations. If you find huge variations, be upfront, ask why.
The first question to answer is can you afford it? But you may have some options; employers may pay for or subsidise participation in coaching courses because the skills will be valuable, particularly for those taking on leadership and managerial roles. If your company hasn’t already offered, then who is the right person to ask if this is a possibility?
If you are self-funding, check to see if course fees can be paid in stages, or ask if they will make a payment plan for you – such as monthly direct debit payments.
Whatever course you choose, Good Luck! You are at the start of an exciting journey, and the adventure is about to begin.
Louise Nicholson, Consultant & Coach
Louise is passionate about empowering individuals and teams to reach their full potential, and in using coaching to achieve this. She is a Qualified Executive Coach, and is certified in Systemic Team Coaching, Gestalt and Emotional Intelligence. She currently coaches senior executives and leaders, in Europe and the UK, inspiring individuals to reflect, raise self-awareness and develop action plans. As part of the Taylor Clarke Faculty, Louise is committed to sharing best practice and helping others to integrate coaching into their daily management.