Corporate Coaching Programmes | What Questions to Ask?
These questions are based on our practical experience of corporate coaching. They may not be easy to answer, but we find it beneficial to ask them as part of the set-up of a programme.
1. How to set up a corporate coaching programme?
2. Who should set up the programme?
3. What is the outcome of the programme?
4. What is the likely ROI and how will you measure it?
5. What are the boundaries of the programme?
6. Does the senior team support and understand the coaching initiative?
7. Do the coaches understand the company’s vision, strategy and culture?
8. What coaching methodology are the coaches using?
9. How do I brief those involved?
10. What technological solutions do I use?
11. How do I select the individuals to be coached?
12. What if an individual being coached wants to use their own coach?
13. How do I select the individual coaches?
14. How I determine if I need external coaches?
15. How do I choose a coaching network or supplier?
16. How do I manage the expectations of those managers you choose not to coach?
17. What feedback do I want?
18. What’s our policy with regard to confidentiality?
19. How do I handle an individual not getting on with their coach?
20. When should I end the programme?
The way you set up a coaching programme is probably the most important determinant of the programme’s success. This section gives you a useful list of questions to ask and answer.
The person who runs a coaching programme will have a significant impact upon its success. A coaching programme is a change programme and whoever is running it will inevitably be drawn into sensitive and political issues. They must be able to deal with these for the programme to succeed.
Thus, it is a good idea if a senior manager, who is trusted by people at the same level as well as those more and less senior, is selected to run the programme. If the individual is not a board member he or she should have the support of a board level sponsor.
It is important to state the purpose and outcome(s) of the programme at the start.
Most coaching programmes are focused on either:
- Supporting a key company initiative; for example increasing revenue, increasing efficiency, a culture change programme; or
- The professional and personal development of individual executives.
A ROI of 5:1 is not uncommon and is a good starting point for a coaching programme. Your ROI will, of course, depend on the individual circumstances. We support both Kirkpatrick and Brinkerhoff approaches to measurement.
It is important to have a reporting system set up before the programme starts, so that you can take action immediately if anything appears amiss.
The investment in coaching programmes is justified around the people being coached going on to achieve key company performance indicators. These are measured by the people themselves and their managers, plus relevant company data such as absence reports, satisfaction surveys and 360° feedback.
If you don’t have the appropriate systems in place to administer this, there are a number of Cloud computing systems that can help.
It is possible to limit coaching discussions to purely work issues, but they work better when allowed to touch upon anything that is a genuine benefit to the coaching client. This is with the expressed exception of anything illegal or anything that may have a negative impact on the health and safety of the individual and organisation. The section on confidentiality is important, see below.
A number of senior managers may not understand the potential value of coaching, and may be confused by the differences between coaching, mentoring, and counselling. Without care, they can unintentionally sabotage the programme.
It is important to brief them personally so they understand the potential value to them and their teams.
While the first priority of the coach is whatever is important to their individual client, they can have a significant impact on helping the company achieve vision, strategy and culture changes – these may be the primary drivers for their employment.
So it is a good idea to brief them on the current and desired vision, culture and strategy.
Most coaching methodologies are based on establishing what the client wants, where they are now and how they will get to where they want to go. After this the art of good coaching is more about how well the coach uses the methodology, rather than the specific methodology itself.
However, for consistency it is best that the programme has a simple coaching methodology or framework. Within this the coaches are free to do whatever is needed to produce the necessary outcomes.
A coaching programme plan should, as a minimum, answer the relevant questions asked here and include copies of any reports or screens that clients, coaches or managers need to complete. The latest version should be available online to all the programme’s stakeholders.
When completed all individuals need to be briefed either 1:1 or as a group. The format should make it possible for individuals to raise questions and concerns and have them answered.
A number of technological solutions can dramatically increase the effectiveness and ROI of coaching programmes.
The two most important are video telephony and Cloud solutions. Video telephony, such as Skype, allows visual and voice communication and saves travelling costs. Many professionals, who initially found it difficult to work with video conferencing, find Skype allows them to communicate effectively with colleagues across the globe.
Cloud computing solutions make it possible to take secure written notes with appropriate monitoring and control of the programme while still respecting confidentiality. A control panel gives an instant view of the success of the programme.
Suitable criteria include:
- Individuals with a significant impact on company performance
- Top performers
- Poor performers who have the potential to perform
- Individuals who want to be coached
It is important to define your own specific criteria and the evidence for those criteria.
Coaching individuals who have a significant impact on performance and who are already top performers is likely to offer a greater ROI. In addition the coaches are likely to learn more from the interaction, which then makes them more valuable to the company in the future.
12. What if an individual being coached wants to use their own coach?
The relationship between individual coaches and the coaching client is the key to the success of the interaction; therefore this should be treated sympathetically, subject to the coach passing your selection criteria.
However, it is important to maintain a basic consistency of coaches throughout the programme.
Great coaches, like great sales people, tend to emerge rather than have a specific career path. The best recommendation is that they already have a successful track record with your people.
Ask any new coach to coach you on a topic that’s important to you, so that you can find out how they work, then get a potential internal client to interview them before making a decision. This will also enable you to check for fit with the company and specific programme.
We advise that you treat coaching qualifications with caution. They do not necessarily guarantee a good coach. Testimonials, checked references and case studies are more important.
As a general guide, junior members of staff tend to work well with internal people, and more senior staff with external people. Performance coaching can be a great learning experience for internal coaches.
Senior staff members do not normally liked being coached internally as they cannot always guarantee the confidentiality they require. In addition they are more likely to respect external coaches.
There are three key criteria for choosing a coaching supplier or network. They will be able to:
- provide a high number of quality coaches for you to consider, thus giving you choice;
- provide consistency and supervision of the coaches; and
- help you to set up and monitor the programme.
You should maintain control of the monitoring and process. The more you develop your own processes and systems, the more flexibility you have in choosing individual coaches and the less reliant you are on any particular external supplier.
The right to have a coach has to be earned. You need to explain they have not yet reached your criteria to be coached.
As previously mentioned it is important to define your guidelines, criteria and related evidence at the beginning of the programme.
As well as collecting feedback that supports your ROI it is always useful to asking all stakeholders two questions:
- What’s working?
- What can be improved?
You need to confirm your agreement to confidentiality before starting the programme. A coaching programme works best when there is genuine real confidentiality and confidence between the coach and the client.
However, within this the client needs to report back agreed information to support the programme’s ROI and their own continued improvement. The coach has to be able report back anything that would compromise the legality and health and safety of the individual or organisation.
It is important to create a mechanism to deal swiftly with any disputes and disagreements. If the client cannot work with his or her coach it is best to replace the coach sooner rather than later – and remember this can be a reflection on the client as much as on the coach.
Programmes can either have a fixed time – normally when they are for a specific company initiative, or be on-going – when they are part of an individual’s development. However in either case the programme should only be maintained if it’s generating an appropriate ROI.
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