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Let the coach….coach!

June 13, 2013

By David Vaughn

I said in a recent blog post that “HR must trust the coaching process and allow the coach to coach.” And this concept seems to have struck a chord with many of you because unfortunately, many organizations have allowed their HR departments to only manage transactions rather than help their people bring out the best in themselves. Think about it. A typical HR organization must manage a variety of transactions—recruiting, talent selection, succession planning, performance reviews, compensation budgeting, competency development, etc.. It’s no wonder that when the decision is made to deploy an internal coaching process, the approach is—one more transaction.

But, in my experience, the most productive coaching assignments are those in which the HR or OD professional manage the process at a distance, and the coachee trusts that the coaching engagement truly has one agenda—his or her own growth as a leader.

Over the past year, I’ve had the good fortune to meet many internal coaches through Linkage’s Coaching Leaders Certification Program and there is no doubt that they each have the ability to develop a successful coaching practice area. So, to avoid your internal coaching becoming just one more transaction, I suggest organizations consider launching internal coaching initiatives that are sponsored by the HR department, but allowed to operate as an independent group.

I believe so strongly in stand-alone coaching practices because of an opportunity I had to help launch a highly successful internal consulting effort for Anheuser-Busch’s independent wholesalers in the past. We started with four people. Our focus was broader than simply coaching leadership skills—individual development in the context of helping leaders bring out the best effort in their people was a big part of our work—and we did not have to answer to the organization. We were given autonomy and trust to help individuals, their teams, and the organization without an agenda other than helping them be successful in the context of their work.

Four factors contributed to our success:

  1. The practice area was staffed with people who understood the business and had the natural ability to coach others in whatever role they played in their organization.
  2. We developed a process that disciplined and informed our work.
  3. We were given the tools we needed to produce positive results.
  4. We were able to demonstrate the value we were providing to the organization.

If you’d like to develop or improve the internal coaching in your organization, explore our Coaching Leaders Certification Process for ideas.

And you might also consider establishing a fee structure for your newly formed coaching practice area. I’m convinced that if your coachee agrees to pay for your coaching engagement, they will be fully engaged. At Anheuser-Busch, the deal was: “If you’re not satisfied that we helped you, our work was free,” and 99 out of 100 clients were satisfied because we had the right “coaches,” a tried and proven process, and common sense practical tools that provided real value.

So, let’s hear it. Have you worked with an internal executive coach? Was it effective? Would you pay for the service? Did the program provide value? If not, what was the problem?

More about David

Vaughn_David_4cDavid Vaughn is a Vice President, Principal Consultant, and leader of Linkage’s Coaching practice. His recent work has focused on helping clients navigate matrix management, deploy a coaching culture, and build an internal consulting discipline.


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