Implementing Coaching Schemes


What is coaching?

Business coaching is a focused conversation between two people where the coachee discusses a current personal or professional issue with their coach so that they are able to learn from it and ultimately raise their performance at work.

The coach will normally be a manager, a topic expert or an external consultant and the coachee can be anyone who wants to get better at their work.

Coaching differs from training which focuses on the acquiring of core competencies and is usually delivered off-the-job, although increasingly via web-enabled learning packages.

Coaching also differs from mentoring because coaching is more focused on shorter term goals where the latter concentrates on longer term and more general or career development.

Coaching can take place in the context of a formal coaching scheme, but many managers choose to use coaching as part of their day-to-day approach to management. This Info Guide will focus on how to set up a formal coaching scheme.

Step 1 – Defining Coaching Programme Objectives

In our experience, coaching programmes that are focused on achieving business results are the ones most likely to succeed and survive, because when there are so many time pressures on everyone in an organization, then ‘non-essential’ activities inevitably get deferred when there is a crisis – there are only a very fewnumber of organisations prepared to prioritise differently.

So defining what the organisation wants out of a coaching programme is the essential first step. That might include one or more of the following…..

  • Improving job performance for individuals
  • Developing high-potential individuals
  • Improving staff motivation and retention
  • Preparing individuals for next-step-promotions
  • Helping struggling job holders to get back on line
  • Giving individuals the opportunity to test-out something new or learn something new, without risk
  • Developing the skills of the coaches

Step 2 – Identification of Potential ‘Coachees’

Deciding who you want to participate in your ‘pilot scheme’ depends in part on the objectives you set for the programme and the skills of the team of coaches you assemble.

As with all pilot schemes, you want a positive outcome because you are committed to the success of your coaching programme, then you should

  • select or nominate your ‘coachees’ carefully – no volunteers
  • select and train your coaches well – skills and motives
  • match coachees well to their coaches – occupationally and from a personality perspective, to avoid clashes/drop-outs
  • monitor the programme and get feedback periodically

It is perhaps best to start your pilot modestly, select all participants wisely and confidentially promote results before moving onto a broader scheme – walk before you run!

Step 3 – Identification and Training of Potential Coaches

Not all organisation managers make good coaches and so the selection of suitable coaches should again be done with care. You should ask yourself whether the proposed coach….

  • Has the domain or topic know-how needed
  • Is respected by others in the organisation
  • Has suitable networks to call upon where appropriate
  • Has the interpersonal skills to become a coach
  • Has the appropriate disposition for the role
  • Wants to do the work – ‘give something back’

Once selected, the organisation should train the coaching team in how to coach.

At this point in time, training should focus on the core interpersonal skills required and there are many commercial suppliers of such training to be found on the web. Your coaching team may well ‘get the bug’ and may want to progress their own development as coaches through a formal accreditation process, but that can follow on in due course.

You should encourage the coaching team to share their experiences (confidentially) and even provide co-coaching sessions to each other.

Finally, if your coaching team is missing some particular domain or topic know-how, then you may need to turn to external provider to help you find the right person. MorenOE Ltd has access to networks of external coaches if you need further help.

Step 4 – Programme Structure

Coaching Programmes need structure to hold them together but that structure needs some flexibility as the needs of the coachees change in urgency and criticality.

You will want to develop your own template and in so doing you might like to consider the following…..

  1. How frequently do you expect the coach and coachee to meet?
    • It is generally thought that a reasonable amount of time needs to be given to the coachee to ‘try out’ the ideas that he/she develops with their coach before getting together again – a gap of around a month is commonplace; a gap of three months is probably too long.
  2. How much time should they spend together?
    • It depends! The duration might be as short as 15 mins if the agenda is about a specific item but could stretch to a couple of hours if the agenda is complex. Regardless, mental fatigue will kick in after about an hour, so an adjournment is sometimes a useful thing to do. For those organisations that use time booking systems, codes should be set up for this purpose.
  3. What happens if the coach and coachee don’t get on?
    • The key is to ensure that either party can exit early from the arrangement without prejudice, although both parties should persevere for a while (2-3 sessions); research shows that ‘initial chemistry’ is not a reliable predictor of long-term coaching success.
  4. How will you review progress?
    • The relationship between coach and coachee is a confidential one and specifics discussed between the pairing should not be shared with the sponsoring organisation.
    • However, it is possible to monitor progress and conduct reviews without compromising the pairing – perception questionnaires to both parties about progress, added value, quality of relationship, suggestions for improvement etc. would be some examples of how to do that. And typically a management review should be done quarterly to make sure things are staying on track.
  1. How do things come to an end?
    • Professional coaches know when to end their programme and usually that is in one of two circumstances
      • when the added value of the process is in decline (Coach unable to give more or coachee ready to move on)
      • when the relationship has gone too far and the coachee is now dependent on their coach for decision making. The red flag is that sometimes unprofessional external providers don’t disengage when they should because it will result in a loss of fee income.

Copyright: © Clive Weston, The Hartwell Consultancy, 2020

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