When setting up coaching in organisations it is vital to establish a culture that encourages and supports open dialogue, transparency and to some extent, risk taking. People need to feel safe to divulge information and share ideas. It is vital that that all stakeholders subscribe to the process and are totally committed to the programme.
This entails being clear about:
- What coaching is and what it isn’t (distinctions between coaching, mentoring, counselling and managing)
- Why coaching is being introduced (What it will support/influence/change)
- How it will be carried out (One to one, group, peer, face to face, telephone)
- What it will address (overarching values, goals, outcomes)
The impact of a coaching culture is determined by several factors. Significant change takes time, so investment in the necessary 'leader or manager as coach' training is vital for programmes to be successful. It is important for the leader as coach to be flexible, to add value and, particularly for high achievers, to be challenging and focused on core development needs.
For coaching to be effective you will need to create an environment where the one to one team (same goals) or group (a variety of goals) sessions are:
This is where the contractual agreements are discussed. A clear flexible plan should be developed with the lead practitioner establishing the goals for the programme and how this will link to the vision of the organisation. Roles and responsibilities for all stakeholders need to be discussed and clear time frames established. The contract will also make provision for who will be coached, how coaches will be chosen and how the results of coaching will be assessed and evaluated. The nature and frequency of the sessions will also be agreed. Effective record keeping is essential to enable continuous improvement and monitoring. Codes of practice will clarify expectations and set boundaries. There is usually a mid-session and final review to evaluate the outcomes against set goals and objectives.
It is never easy when coaching internally to be totally non-judgemental. However, putting aside your own knowledge and experience of the coachee and starting with a clean slate will enable faster growth.
A coach needs to bring objectivity to the sessions and this can be a challenge when you work as an internal coach. It is important for the coach to remain neutral and be able to mirror back the thoughts and ideas of the coachee. The action and commitments made by the coachee need to be owned by them. They will not be as effective if the actions have been influenced by the coach.
We all have attitudes, beliefs and values that shape the way we think and behave. It is the coach’s role to respect, whilst not necessarily agreeing with, the attitudes, values and beliefs held by the coachee. If we are disrespectful of another’s view we relinquish our own spiritual intelligence.
Individuals often come to coaching because they want to be challenged. They enjoy the way a coach enables them to think sideways, holds a mirror up and encourages creative thought. People often bring negative beliefs and assumptions about themselves to the sessions and it is the coach’s role to challenge those beliefs while also remaining respectful.
It is important for the coachee to create a plan with results that are attainable, measurable and specific. The coachee will be encouraged by their coach to set target dates for any goals they have identified. It is important to agree goals that will stretch the coachee while at the same time being realistic.
Manageable and time-bound are linked. Often people come to coaching with unrealistic expectations or very long-term goals. It is up to the coach to encourage and at the same time help them to be realistic. As far as possible they should be able to set their own deadlines and time frames to suit them. This way they take more responsibility for the outcomes.
Quiet and uninterrupted
This is about the environment and creating a quiet space for the sessions to take place. It is generally better to hold 1-2-1 coaching sessions ‘off site’ if this can be arranged. It cannot be stressed enough how much the environment has an impact on the successful outcome of the sessions.
Focused on the coachee’s best interests
When coaching internally there will always be an agenda set by the organisation. There may even be management or leadership behaviours that have been identified as desirable. With this in mind the sessions should always be conducted in the best interests of the coachee. This does not mean the organisation is compromised in any way. It just means that if the individual is happy then their work will improve and they will become more productive.
Operating within legal and ethical parameters
It is vital to ensure that coaching programmes are operated within the legal and policy framework that underpins all employment relationships. This includes being aware of:
- The race, sex and disability discrimination acts
- Employment law, health and safety, fairness at work, grievance procedures, and codes of conduct outlined in the organisation’s policies and procedures
- Issues of power and authority
- Clear established coaching boundaries
Check out the websites at the back of ‘Coaching Skills for Leaders in the Workplace’ book for ICF, EMCC & AC ethics, standards and codes of practice.
Coaching is built on strong foundations of trust. The contracting is important in building trust as this sets clear boundaries, agreements and measurements of success.
It also allows all stakeholders to be clear about the issues to be addressed and firms up confidentiality and reporting processes.
Not everyone’s beliefs, attitudes and values align with your own. By being respectful of others views and beliefs you will gain a greater rapport with your coachees.