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Taking coaching in-house

Picture of people being coached

An increasing number of businesses want to create and establish coaching cultures to enable enhanced performance. But how best to go about it? Reliance upon external executive coaches is an expensive option, so many private and public sector organisations have developed internal coaching capacity.

Keith Nelson explores the do’s and don’ts of developing coaching capability within the business.

The impetus to introduce coaching as part of an organisation’s culture often emerges from leaders within the upper levels of the business – perhaps the CEO, HR director or other directors who have benefited from coaching and want to extend its influence across the business.

There then comes the challenge of how to build a coaching strategy and implement it in practice. It is important at this stage to distinguish between executive coaching for leaders – often supplied by an external coach – and internal coaching, provided by coaches from within the business. Such internal coaching is delivered to managers and others across the business.

To achieve this, businesses have identified groups of internal coaches and then set about training them.

But how successful are these initiatives? Here’s our 10-step guide to introducing in-house coaching.

  1. Get buy-in from the top. The CEO and senior leaders are important in (a) supporting coaching and (b) being effective role models. If they don’t support coaching or role model it, then, at best, the impact of coach training will be reduced, at worst, doomed to fail. The CEO is particularly important as an advocate.
  2. Identify your points of entry. Simply taking all managers through a two-day coach-training programme can be very costly, lead to resistance (“why do I need to do another training course when I’m already overloaded as it is?” ) and take on all the characteristics of the sheep-dip approach. The introduction of coaching is often budget-driven, so spend wisely.
  3. Manage expectations. Accept that managers who are going to be trained as coaches are not going to be experts overnight. Training to become a coach takes time, practice and a journey into learning and un-learning.
  4. Choose your training provide wisely. The Cambridge Business Coaching Programme is specifically designed to provide coaches with the skills and knowledge to work effectively as internal coaches. Its focus is purely and simply developing excellent coaching capabilities within the context of the systemic business environment.
  5. See coaching as a long-term investment. Often the coach training involves an initial group of managers being trained and gaining their accreditations. But what next? How will the initiative be supported and embedded long term? Keep an eye on short, middle and long term.
  6. Embed coaching as a way of being. Integrate coaching to organisational norms, such as managers’ competences. All training can be delivered in a coaching style. Performance appraisals can be delivered in a coaching style. Coaching isn’t restricted to formal sessions; it can be highly effective in those corridor-and-drinks-machine conversations.
  7. Accept that not all managers are going to grasp coaching. There are some who do not believe it and are, for example, more comfortable with a telling approach. This can act limit the coaching ‘culture’ – particularly for those staff who report to the manager. How will you handle this situation?
  8. Work out your support systems. Supervision for your coaches, and in-house coaching ‘champions‘ – with a board ‘sponsor’ can be highly effective.
  9. Align the coaching strategy with your organisation strategy. Link it with the business vision, mission, values and strategy.
  10. Ensure capacity.

Finally, five key words to follow – time, space, resource, commitment, support.