By Mick Lavin
Many large organisations now use coaching (and executive coaching) as a proactive part of their people development programmes, while many still use coaching as a remedial solution for poor performance.
The attitude a company takes toward coaching can help employees to view coaching as a perk and part of their continued professional development or as a last ditch effort to remain an employee. There are few better ways to develop the high-potential talent within your organisation than through training for hard-skills and by providing coaching to develop a leader. Setting the right attitude to coaching within the business can open the business up to its benefits, the wrong attitude can limit the potential to use coaching effectively.
Sourcing a coach can be done from internal or external resources. Many large organisations employ internal coaching teams and use these effectively in relation to leadership development and team building. For individualised and senior level positions, however, it may be more appropriate to look to an external coach. A coach should always keep an objective view of the client’s circumstance. One of the cornerstones of a coach/coachee relationship is that the coach will not judge the coachee and will keep confidential the conversations between the two. An internal coach by contrast, may place the interests of the company before the relationship with the client and undermine the effectiveness of the coaching relationship.
The selected coach should have experience relative to the industry or position and be a certified coaching professional.
The Global Coaching & Mentoring Alliance (CGMA) defines coaching as “activities within the area of professional and personal development with focus on individuals and teams and relying on the client’s own resources to help them to see and test alternative ways for improvement of competence, decision making and enhancement of quality of life”.
What this means is that a coaching relaionship is not a mentoring relationship where a mentor may be better sourced from within the organisation and bring actual experience to share with the mentee. Coaching can help to find answers already within the client and help them understand where to find these answers in the future.
They go on to say that a “professional coach/mentor can be described as an expert in establishing a relationship with people in a series of conversations with the purpose of serving the clients to improve their performance or enhance their personal development or both, choosing their own goals and ways of doing it.”
Bringing this definition into the context of the development of staff within the setting of a business, this would seem to infer that the coach should be a professional, have an understanding of the environment he/she is entering into, and hold the welfare of the client (coachee) in the highest regard. From the perspective of the business hiring a coach to work with their employees, it implies that the organisation is looking for a positive outcome using the coach to develop their staff and improve performance.
When hiring a coach into your organisation, ensure they are qualified by an accredited body, have experience in business, and are looking for a positive outcome for your employees. Hire a coach for future performance and not past compliance.
With so much of our lives online these days, most coaches will have a verifiable presence on LinkedIn or a business website, and will likely provide references or testimonials as to their competence. Look for synergy and experience related to your industry, or experience at a specific level within an organisational structure to match your employee needs with the coaches’ skills. Qualification and/or Accreditation with one of the GCMA members are also a good indicator of capability. It must also be said that accreditation is relatively new to the industry as it moves to a more professional/research based standing. As such some experienced and well-respected coaches may not possess these qualifications or accreditations but continue to work in a professional and ethical manner. All practicing coaches should undergo Supervision to ensure they continue to learn, develop, and be effective in their trade.
A Harvard Business Review article titled “The wild west of Executive Coaching” talks of qualifications but also the importance of chemistry between coach and coachee. It also looks at how many qualified psychologists are entering the rank and file of Executive Coaching but may lack the business knowledge and experience of a former CEO or a coach with solid business experience.
Coaching can produce substantive results for an Executive who is developing, promoted into a new role, or is stuck in a rut and needs a helping hand to move forward. Providing Executive Coaching can be seen as a positive investment into your team. Use coaching for future performance and not past compliance.
The GCMA consists of a number of International Accreditation bodies including the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), International Coaching Federation, Association for Coaching, and Société Française de Coaching.
Members of the GCMA are also signatories to the “Professional Charter for Coaching and Mentoring” which has been accepted on the European Union’s dedicated website for Self-Regulated professions (Link to PDF).