I’m all for doing things yourself when you can. However, there are certainly times when bringing in an outside resource is well worth the investment. Here are a few of the most vital times to consider working with a coach or mentor:

  • You are preparing yourself for a promotion.
  • You need to adjust quickly to a new circumstance.
  • You have employees you find challenging to manage.
  • You find yourself working for a difficult boss.
  • You’ve been assigned to a new function, office, or even country that requires you to use skills you have barely developed.
  • You have a performance weakness that, left unattended, could spread and negatively impact other areas of your performance.

Now that you’ve determined having a coach or a mentor would be beneficial to you, the next question is: How does one determine which coach or mentor is right for them?

Nowadays, it seems like just about everyone is a coach or a mentor. I mean, all you have to do is add the word coach to your LinkedIn profile and voila! Someone is now officially a coach. That’s why it’s important to do your due diligence.

Of course, you could use the same coach your friend has been using. That may be fine, but before doing so, make sure your needs are the same and that this coach or mentor is the right fit for you.

Here are some other things to consider when selecting a coach or a mentor:

Does the person you’re considering have the experience to make the grade? I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want someone coaching me on how to successfully do my first jump out of a plane if he or she hasn’t already done it at least a dozen times! The same holds true when selecting a coach or a mentor in business.

A life coach might be great for your best friend who has decided to re-enter the workforce after a leave of absence but may not be appropriate for you if you’re looking to learn how to become a more effective leader. In your case, you need someone who has been in the trenches and has successfully led people.

Do your styles match? You need to be comfortable showing this person who you truly are, and at times hearing some difficult feedback. Some coaches are known to be direct, while others take a softer approach. Knowing which style you prefer will enable you to find someone with whom you can work successfully.

Is he or she willing to give you a trial period? It’s difficult to really know if your personalities will click until you begin working together.

That’s why it’s important to make sure whoever works with you is agreeable to a trial period. Note: this does not mean you are entitled to a full refund should you decide partially through the engagement that you are not compatible. This simply means you have an out clause in case you need to go your separate ways.

Is he or she available? Finding a wonderful coach or mentor won’t do you much good if he or she does not have the time to help you. Before you enter into a relationship, clearly define your needs and ask the person whether or not your expectations are realistic given his or her other commitments.

You may also want to consider the person’s official credentials, but don’t get too hung up on this. I’m often asked if a coach without certification is worth considering. I say absolutely!

Find a coach or a mentor who can demonstrate that he or she has achieved similar successes, and don’t worry about the three letters that may or may not be assigned to his or her name. When you’ve identified someone you like, check references. If they match what you have observed, proceed. It’s that simple.