In the late nineties, the notion of ‘executive coaching’ was introduced to the Australian business community; but in the early days tended to be remedial and reserved for organisations’ ‘problem children’. It took until the mid-naughties for this stigma to wear off and be accepted as an essential development tool to leverage talent in organisations. Executive coaches sprung out of nowhere and cries for regulation of the industry became deafening.
For a while it seemed that every out of work senior executive declared themselves “a coach”. Coaching articles filled the media in our favourite business magazines and papers, most extolling the virtues of coaching; while some highlighted what they saw as dangers. It was at this point that organisations and individuals rightfully became cautious, wary, critical and savvy when it came to engaging coaching services.
Today executive coaching has matured and for many has become an essential accessory to the executive’s suite of development options. Many organisations have formalised their executive coaching offerings and protocols, some with formalised coaching panels. A coach often conjures up an image of someone observing a top athlete with a stop watch in hand; for others it may represent a reward or sign of value in the organisation, a retention tool or a pathway to further success and upward mobility. You may ask, “who wouldn’t benefit from having someone alongside them, who sits outside the company politic, who’s only agenda is to help you succeed?” The answer is very few but coaching isn’t for everyone and motivation is a key determinant.
deliberatepractice interviewed human resources managers, directors and general managers over a variety of industries and human resource specialisations. Below are some of the findings directly related to this survey:
Coaches are generally used to develop competence for the following:
- Engaging others
- Developing leadership behaviours
- To augment and help broaden feedback received on development programs
The following factors influenced people’s decisions to use a particular coach:
- Familiarity with the business
- Ability to have a meaningful conversation
- Ability to meet tight deadlines
- A strong results focus
- Not fluffy but willing to go deeper and understand underlying motivations and actions
- Personal style of the coach
- Level of seniority and perceived credibility
- Underlying model and expertise
- A human resources or psychology background combined with commercial acumen
Whatever your mental image of coaching is, it’s here to stay and frequently asked questions include:
- Who can and should benefit from coaching?
- How to identify, evaluate and select a coach that is right for the coachee, application, situation and context?
- What does value look like and how do you measure performance, returns and overall success of coaching interventions?
- What protocols are needed when engaging a coach including confidentiality and disengagement?
Research continues into the effectiveness of coaching; however recent studies clearly point to the benefits of coaching where evidence based coaching models are used. Therefore, if you are considering engaging a coach to assist with behavioural or skills based coaching you should be sure the coach has a researched and evidence based methodology, together with appropriate protocols and ethical guidelines that underpin their coaching practice.