This article first appeared on the Careers For Leaders website in 2008. Please call us if you would like further information.
Coaching for Individuals and Organisations
Effective coaching can undoubtedly help make an individual or organisation achieve greater success. The core of a successful organisation is a compelling vision, a clear strategy, and an alignment of resources, policies, structure, people and relationships to ensure consistent delivery. Coaches can work on all aspects of organisational performance, but typically work on the individual’s impact in an organisation.
A good coach can:
- Reinvigorate an underperforming team
- Refocus a struggling senior manager or executive
- Embed a new starter into a new organisation
- Challenge received wisdom or orthodoxy within an established team
- Help raise the bar where performance has reached a plateau
- Identify when someone should move on
- Help someone take control of their destiny
- And much more – but they are not the panacea to all ills and don’t have a magic bullet.
As an organisation:
- Be clear on why you want coaching
- Ask yourself, is coaching the right solution, or a way of avoiding the real problem?
- Identify a range of coaching styles and behaviours, from diverse providers or coaches
- Set medium term targets to evaluate whether the coaching programme is working
- Meet your coaches regularly to get advice on organisational issues and implications
- Ensure you define resources in advance, as coaching can be expensive – expect coaching to be self financing in the medium term
- Don’t let coaches define success for you, always own the process
- Avoid organisational or individual dependency
As an individual:
- Ensure you want the coaching, and that it is not forced upon you
- Ensure your personalities and style can work together
- Learn to trust the coach, be open and honest
- It is your coaching session, if you are unhappy, say so
- Set and share your personal targets
- Commit time before and after each session to plan and reflect
- Workplace coaching is about work, and is not therapy
- Always raise the bar on your performance
- Be very wary of developing dependency – it is about your performance not the coach’s.
Before embarking on a coaching programme, be clear on what general or specific outcomes you want, organisationally or individually.
Document the outcomes and ensure you own them – they are your targets, not the coach’s. Agree a clear timetable and schedule for coaching sessions (typically between 6 and 12 months, with review periods built in).
Be prepared to stop the coaching if it’s not working, or you no longer need it. You can always come back for more. A good coach will welcome the chance to re-evaluate and change their support to you.
At the end of the agreed programme, always pause and reconsider if you need any more. If necessary change the programme or the coach, and make sure you set new targets.
Coaches cannot fix the permanently broken. If you have an over-promoted manager, a destructive organisational psychopath, a dysfunctional team or a critical misalignment between vision and capacity – a coach may delay the inevitable. But your issues are more fundamental. A coach may merely be an expensive sticking plaster.
Don’t be suckered by the sell. Good coaches are an asset, but they are not miracle workers. Always be clear about what you want, why you want it and how you want to improve. Set targets, re-evaluate progress, always ask yourself, is this worth it? And again most important – watch out for dependency. Bad coaches encourage and foster dependency. You may feel good about yourself, but if you’re not performing better, so what?
Coaching is not counselling. Coaching should deliver better results for your business. The ultimate measure of a good coach is sustained improvement in results. So be tough, set outcome measures that test and stretch your coach and expect improvement. Failure to do so may mean you have a top team that feels good but ultimately fails.