Is your company offering coaching? Have you gone through the process? How did you experience it, would you recommend coaching or was it a waste of your time?
Here are some markers that increase the odds of making an executive coaching experience the best it can be, as identified by the 2008 AMA's global survey into successful coaching practices.
First, coaching needs to be viewed as a reward.
“Coaching can be a very effective tool if applied in the right way. For example, if you look at AMA research, coaching is far more effective when applied to high potential leaders who are striving to get better, not fixing failures. So I think if coaching is seen as a positive activity, an activity for high potential leaders, an activity for leaders who really are excellent to start with, that are trying to get better, you are going to get a great return. If coaching is seen as a punishment, something for losers, or something that is for people who have severe problems, then it’s probably not going to work very well. If you look at all the research on this, not just the AMA study, but all the other research that’s been done, I think the results are consistent. The big payoff in coaching is for high-potential people who are trying to get better and coaching then is seen as a reward or a positive activity, not a punishment, or negative activity.” Marshall Goldsmith
Second, it needs to be voluntary.
Coaching in many ways is a facilitated and accompanied change process, and the person changing - the coachee - needs to do that from their own free will, or the results are not going to stick. Just think of the person you're telling to lose weight or stop smoking: they have to want it for themselves in order to make it work. Sure you may convince potential clients of the benefits of the desired outcome and talk them into making a change, but personally, that goes against my understanding of personal freedom and responsibility, not to mention coaching ethics.
Thirdly, you need rapport and trust between coach and coachee to ensure a good match.
In an organizational setting, executives should have a variety of coaches to choose from for their individual process. That means the company needs to find and interview coaching talent with the best or most appropriate background knowledge to make sure these coaches are able to fulfill the defined coaching purpose. The second stage would be for the executive to be coached to interview the available coaches and make sure to choose the one coach that is the best match for their personality. Trust and rapport between coach and coachee are equally if not more essential to the coaching process than the coach's expertise.
Lastly, coaching is most successful when integrated into the company's strategic vision.
As Dr. Duffy Spencer explains, traditional closed organizations that promote internal competitiveness and knowledge hoarding need to turn into evolving, supporting and nurturing structures if they want to retain their high performers. In order to create buy-in to the effectiveness and strategic advantages coaching can offer, it has to be viewed as a legitimate individual development tool. This is not possible in an organizational culture where learning by doing is discouraged, and the success of one comes at the disadvantage of another.
Looking forward to reading your comments!
(From the archives, first published in January 2010)