Inside an Outside Coaching Job
When the executive coach steps in, do you step out?
One of the most popular trends in delivering development inside an organization is reaching outside for a coach’s services, and in many cases, there is great value in tapping into the sea of consultants. But removing yourself from the situation once the coach arrives can be a mistake.
There are three areas in which an internal resource can make a difference in the success or failure of an external coaching arrangement.
Managing the Coaching Checklist
Every coaching engagement has milestones and critical events. I’ve found having a checklist is a useful way to plot productive engagements. Here’s a sample of what’s on my list:
• Start-Up Steps: Does this coaching engagement make sense? Have I established agreed-upon expectations with the key stakeholders? Are we clear on what we are trying to improve? How are we going to measure results? Is coaching the right solution, or should this be handled by the employee’s manager?
Early on, coaching objectives are often fluid, so insiders must remain in the conversation. The result is a triangular contract among the coach, leader and internal resource.
• Middle Steps: Have I set a schedule of periodic check-ins with both the leader and the coach to gauge progress? Key questions to ask the leader: How is coaching going? What have you achieved? How much follow-up with your manager are you doing? Key questions to ask the coach: Is the leader making progress? How responsive is the leader to coaching?
There might be a hesitation for an insider to keep tabs on the coaching progress because of a concern about confidentiality. I respect the need for trusted conversations outside the normal boundaries of an organization, but in the end, coaching is a business investment made to improve leadership capabilities.
• Next Steps: How will I manage the process of closure and evaluate success? What will be the standards and methods to assess progress? How will we bring closure to the project? What follow-up support and further check-ins might we consider?
Whatever the agreed-upon option, you should have a three-way conversation to review results and determine next steps. A leader’s development is an ongoing journey, and an external coaching intervention is one step along the way. Determining what comes next continues the development.
Manage the Relationship
Company insiders need to navigate the agendas of the leader, coach, boss and other key stakeholders. It’s helpful to have a working relationship with each coach in the external pool. Often, this is a partnership to broker the right coach to the leader, keeping in touch and removing obstacles to coaching impact.
As assignments with the external coach conclude, it’s time to step in to maintain progress. At the very least, map out next steps and resources after the coach departs. Occasionally, it means doing more.
Following up doesn’t take long, and it keeps leaders focused on the right behavior as they implement new leadership practices.
Success in such learning adventures demands time and energy, two resources in short supply today. It’s tempting to outsource the work when the executive coach shows up. Yet, there is a difference between throwing resources at development needs and carefully managing a learning project for maximum impact.
As stewards of company resources, our inside role is to jump in on the front end of an engagement, provide discipline in managing the process and ensure solid follow-up support when the external coach leaves.
© Kevin D. Wilde