What are the key skills and behaviors to look for when hiring a practice coach?

Enthusiastic leadership and project management skills are a good start

Practice coaches play a unique and specialized role requiring a broad set of functional, technical, and behavioral competencies. A key step in establishing a practice coaching program is agreeing upon a set of criteria to guide the practice coach hiring process. Experience has shown that successful practice coaches have a significant foundation of quality improvement knowledge and expertise, as well as a set of observable behaviors that enable them to connect with primary care practices. Indeed, some leaders have suggested that when evaluating prospective practice coaches, it is more important to consider a candidate's approach to interacting with individuals and groups of people and their level of emotional intelligence than the candidate's quality improvement experience. An enthusiastic, open-minded, task-oriented person with high standards is a good place to start.
 
In general, one should look for the following background when reviewing applicant resumes:
Bachelor’s degree required, master’s degree preferred in relevant discipline such as public health, human resources, nursing, engineering, or education
Five years of experience in working in a health care setting, preferably working with health care teams, or five years leading multidisciplinary teams in quality improvement in another service setting
Experience in participating in quality improvement teams, familiarity with quality improvement methods
Project management skills
Experience reviewing and interpreting performance data
Experience in leading group processes and negotiation
 
Compiled by Jen Powell, an AF4Q technical advisor working with the Improving Performance in Practice (IPIP) Technical Support Team.