…and then, how to get it right first time

Organisations spend millions of pounds each year on management training and in particular, executive coaching, but is it really having an effect on improving individual performance or could it simply be a complete waste of money?

Lisa Wynn at Corporate Potential gives a snapshot overview of the top five mistakes businesses make when appointing a coach:

1. They choose a coach who is not prepared to challenge

2. They choose a coach with no coach-specific training

3. They don’t bother to align coaching interventions with business goals

4. They employ coaches who do not challenge enough

5. They don’t set clear objectives for the coaching intervention

The reality is coaching is an unregulated industry. The worrying fact is anyone could set up their own ‘coaching enterprise’ with little or no qualifications at all. To get real value from a coaching investment it is worth considering the following items before appointing a coach and parting with your cash:

The coaching checklist:

• Ask to see evidence of the coach’s qualifications?

• Ask to see relevant examples of the experience they have?

• Find out who have they worked with before and ask for references?

• Do they have a professional code of conduct?

• Try not to see coaching as a quick fix it needs to be an ongoing partnership in order to be a success

• Make sure you clearly define your goals to the coach

• Chemistry is important - can you see them fitting with the organisation and more importantly will your senior leaders be able to work with them?

• Do they have the ability to create an open culture and build trust amongst senior leaders?

• Are they happy to challenge you or are they more focused on agreeing with you?

So you taken the above points into consideration and you think you have found the right person for the job but what should a good coach help you achieve?

• They should be able to help managers/leaders to empower people and maximise their own potential as well as their staff

• They should encourage you to be realistic, coaching won’t change someones personality but is does have the ability to help leaders adopt different ways of thinking — this will empower them to make positive behaviour changes

• They should be able to create a learning culture within the workplace

• They should help people work towards a shared goal or vision

• They can help you to develop the core skills and characteristics needed in order to be a highly effective leader

• They can help leaders manage the pressure of trying to be ‘all things to all people’ so they can improve a work-life balance

• They can help to create a thinking environment where planning is stronger and more thorough — mistakes are less likely to happen and more likely to be learnt from

• They can help people to be more creative and totake more responsibility for their actions

When you have appointed a coach you need to be able to recognise if he/she is doing a good job or is achieving the objectives that you agreed at the start. Things to look out for:

• The coach will be straight into the coaching — asking you lots of questions about what you want and how you will know you have achieved it

• The coach will be asking questions about your business drivers and goals

• They will be using language that fits with your organisation and will be well received by those who will be coached

• The coach is prepared to challenge you and is clearly acting as a strategic partner rather than just a supplier keen to get your business

• The coach has set up clear reporting and confidentiality guidelines

• If you are the commissioning professional, you will feel confident in what is happening and will know what you can expect from the coach and coachees

• There will be clear success criteria so that the coaching is set up to meet expectations and can be measured in terms of how successful it has been

In times of recession businesses are looking at ways of improving performance across the board and inevitably the people at the top are going to be instrumental to the business success. If management and staff come to work feeling happy, fulfilled, committed and supported then performance is likely to improve, so investing in them is paramount to improving overall profits.

To ensure return on investment coaching needs to deliver recognisable results, such as an increase in profitability, performance and productivity as well as a decrease in internal conflicts and problems. No matter what the company size coaching does have its place if planned and procured correctly. It has the ability to provide individuals with the skills to be successful leaders which ultimately will drive business success.