By Carole Gaskell

Coaching is one of the most powerful ways of working with an individual or a group, to raise their game and elicit their highest potential. A successful coach will support and challenge individuals to have a greater perspective, focus and clarity and will help to generate fundamental shifts in behaviour. Coaches can become a powerful catalyst for enhanced performance, galvanising people into action and refreshing momentum.

But how can you make sure you find the right coach for you? The following top tips will help.

1. Objectives - Work out exactly what it is you want to achieve and the specific development areas you want to focus on. The coach must understand your business or personal objectives and you should feel at ease with their style. Once you know the end game, effectively honing in on the right coach becomes quicker and easier.

2. Recommendations - One of the best ways to identify a coach is to seek a recommendation from colleagues or senior managers who have been on the receiving end. If a colleague has achieved great results through coaching, ask for a referral. In this way you won’t be starting cold.

3. Experience - Once you have come up with a list of potentials, you need to interview them to discover more about what they can do for you. Find out about their corporate experience, track record and why they moved into coaching.

4. Approach - Get them to describe their coaching style, what they feel their unique qualities are and where they believe they could provide most value. Ask for references, testimonials, case studies and client success stories. You also need to know their fees and whether you have to sign up for a set period — three to six months is common.

5. Chemistry - Before making a final decision, weigh up the chemistry fit. Notice how you feel after your conversation with them. If you feel excited and perhaps even a little nervous at the prospect of the potential they could help you to realise, you know you’ve found the right coach.

Once you have selected your coach set aside time for the coaching and follow-up sessions — squeezing them into a busy schedule will not allow you to derive maximum benefit from the process. Honesty and trust are the hallmarks of a productive relationship so be upfront about yourself, your abilities and what you think or feel.

Commit to experimenting with new ways of thinking, behaving and operating. Speak up if you feel the coaching isn’t working. Good coaches welcome feedback and will be as keen as you are to build the relationship, but bear in mind that you must also share responsibility for making the relationship work.

Carole Gaskel is ,CEO and Founder of Full Potential Group (nurl=http://www.fullpotentialgroup.com]www.fullpotentialgroup.com[/nurl])