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Exploring in-house coaching

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The success of coaching is linked to its core focus: the employee. Even though coaching programs exist with set numbers of sessions, their contents are always tailored to what the person being coached really looks for and truly needs; they are fully personalized approaches and therefore “Feel-great approach”. With this article, the third number of our series “Coaching in the corporate world”, let's explore implementing in-house coaching programs and the key points to make them a success.

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Exploring in-house coaching

  1. 1. Coaching in the Corporate World – #3: Exploring in-house coaching Page 1 of 5 – 2016 Florence Dambricourt, Mindset Strategist Coaching in the corporate world - Exploring in-house coaching By Florence Dambricourt Mindset Strategist, EMCC practitioner Reviewing insurances contracts one day, Bill Gates is said to have expressed some surprises out loud with something similar to: “I am not sure why the costs of insuring building are so high when the biggest part of my capital goes home every evening.” He was talking of his employees of course. As years goes on, business challenges evolves however one thing remains constant: the needed partnership between employers and employees. For any organization, its workforce is its main asset; without a CEO or an entrepreneur there is no company to hire people and without any employees willing to work for the company, its ideas and its projects, there is no company. The cost of developing this workforce is also a recurrent item in the conversation; we could humorously summarise some of the dilemma with that short conversation between a CFO and a CEO “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?” and the CEO to reply “What happens if we don’t and they stay?” One way to approach this development of workforce in the past four decades has been the increasing usage of coaching. In 2011, a Manchester Consulting Group study of Fortune 100 executives reported that “coaching resulted in a ROI of almost six times the programme cost”. Two years later, in their 2013 annual report, CPID (Chartered Institute of Personal and development – UK) reported coaching as being the most effective talent management activities. Their 2015 reports on L&D (Learning and Development) shows an increase of internal coaching program, and employees favoured this approach as being a satisfactory learning solution. The success of coaching is linked to its core focus: the employee. Even though coaching programs exist with set numbers of sessions, their contents are always tailored to what the person being coached really looks for and truly needs; they are fully personalized approaches and therefore “Feel-great approach”. With this article, the third number of our series “Coaching in the corporate world”, let’s explore implementing in-house coaching programs and the key points to make them a success.
  2. 2. Coaching in the Corporate World – #3: Exploring in-house coaching Page 2 of 5 – 2016 Florence Dambricourt, Mindset Strategist People want to be part of something as someone rather than just as a number. They are interested in autonomy and learning how to develop it further. It has even now been accepted that coaching benefits all employees within an organization (if they ask for it) and can easily improve work-life balance, as well as overall performance. Is autonomy the word of the moment? From the 1830s to now, coaching has travelled quite a bit to become an important element of some working cultures. Many companies, listed among “best places to work at”, would have now implemented coaching cultures. A “coaching culture” is a company culture where coaching has been recognised as a very efficient tool for people development and for performance improvement; often managers would have been trained in the coaching methodology and would manage with a “coaching” style. Is it a mandatory evolution for every organization? This is a very valid question. Research in the field of the sociology of work presents different views such as contemporary perspectives, symbolic interactionist, feminist, or the social network theories. This last one suggests that the vertical structures, we inherited from the industrialisation, are now giving way to more horizontal organizations associated with a change in power definition and relationships. Social sciences are telling another side of the same story, detailing our motivation and drive, and somewhere how current societies are evolving but also how we can create that evolution. I am thinking of the work of Daniel Pink on motivation (and drive), or Linda Hill on developing collective creativity, and Neurosciences is now coming with its own theories, with for instance the work from the neuroeconomist Paul Zak on the “Moral Molecule” –aka oxytocin- and the increase on creativity and productivity in the workplace when trust is part of the culture. Nowadays, work is no longer seen as just work. People are ready to give a huge amount of time to their work however for the right reward and this reward is more and more about purposes, recognition, and having a great work- life balance. If this was not the case book such as “Reinventing organizations” by Frederic Laloux will not have such a success. Is autonomy the word of the moment? It seems to be written all over these new trends of thoughts. People are looking for more autonomy. They want to be part of something as someone rather than just as a number. They are interested in autonomy and learning how to develop it further. The success of coaching methodology may actually be linked to the fact that it replies to these needs. The coach is like a “personal mind trainer”. Thanks to this short 2013 TED talk from Bill Gates at New York , it is now recognized that similar to top performers in sports, top performers in business benefit from having a coach. It has even now been accepted that coaching benefits all employees within an organization (if they ask for it) and can easily improve work-life balance, as well as overall performance. Three immediate benefits of working with a pool of internal coaches spring to mind: decreasing cost, allowing a very fast response time when needed, and maintaining the level of proficiency desired. But of course, it also means developing a coaching culture and widening the scope of the coaching to all employees.
  3. 3. Coaching in the Corporate World – #3: Exploring in-house coaching Page 3 of 5 – 2016 Florence Dambricourt, Mindset Strategist Developing a coaching culture Coaching is based on a trust relationship and the basic assumption that we can always improve – and this is especially important when we look at coaching for performance. One key component of coaching is the giving of feedbacks: a coach is somebody who assists in seeing other perspectives, getting feedbacks, and reflecting. Implementing a coaching culture equals implementing a culture of feedback and learning where people are valued for developing trust, role model, leadership, team spirit, and collaboration. Also as employees go through coaching program, they will develop autonomy; and this will have to be reflected in the way people are managed. Working with all employees: managers and front line alike Having a pool of internal coaches, already on the payroll, offers the possibility to widen that chance of having coaching sessions to most employees or all. Sessions can be easily organised, and if needed support can be immediate or during the day. As well it can be decided to offer the possibility to employees to also be coached on personal –versus professional- questions. It’s a fact, the lines between the two are more than blurry, and knowing the impact of personal life onto performance at work, this is just an added bonus. The internal coach will have knowledge of the company from the inside, which will assists in understanding the situation presented by the client. In addition, the scope of the in-house coaching program can be widened to team facilitation, self-development training, and management training in coaching style. Keeping coaching a “perk” One easy error in implementing in-house coaching program is to institutionalize it. This would mean a similar model:
  4. 4. Coaching in the Corporate World – #3: Exploring in-house coaching Page 4 of 5 – 2016 Florence Dambricourt, Mindset Strategist Coaching has to remain a “perk”; if widening the coaching program to all employees it is actually possible to make it a strong element of talent management. 1) you join the company 2) you are assigned a coach 3) You have regular coaching sessions (even though you may not ask for any) and 4) in some cases that coaching process is automatically listed within your annual review. Such model breaks quite a few rules of good coaching ethics and standards; let’s review three of them. First, the coachee is not asking for the coaching program, and therefore may not see its value or be ready to leverage from it. Then, one may wonder about the quality of the coaching relationship when it is automatically assigned rather than chosen; being compulsory makes it less attractive. Last, in the case the process is included as a tool of the performance review the coaching relationship loses its power of trust. Coaching has to remain a “perk”; if widening the coaching program to all employees it is actually possible to make it a strong element of talent management as something special that can only be avail of following certain criteria, all based on employees motivation. Protecting coaching relationship Maintaining a set-up, that ensures a good coaching relationship can be established, is going to be a key to the success of the in-house program. It is important to facilitate situation where internal coaches cannot experience conflict of interests; for instance, there cannot be a hierarchical connection. Let’s say someone from the HR team request a coaching program; this person cannot be coached by someone from the L&D team, if both have the same reporting managers (or N+2, and even N+3). Major corporate spreading over countries and cities, can actually leverage from separate location to create a safer coaching environment; this would mean mainly coaching session by phone which is now a very common and successful approach. In cases, coachees have actually reported preferring phone sessions, mentioning that the lack of visual contact helped them to feel freer in their communication. Now, within the internal agreed process it is important still for the coach to establish a coaching agreement with the coachee and to ensure that there is no direct connection between both coach and client, this being an important step in the coach-coachee relationship. Protecting expertise and standards It’s a fact, the quality of the coaching does not come from rather coaches are internal or external to a company. It comes from at least four points: - the coach qualification - the coach level of expertise - the relationship established between coach and coachee - the match between coach and coachee and the agreement established at start. Developing an in-house program can actually give higher control over the expertise and the standards, by ensuring the level of training taken as well as the quality of the supervision available. What about costs then?
  5. 5. Coaching in the Corporate World – #3: Exploring in-house coaching Page 5 of 5 – 2016 Florence Dambricourt, Mindset Strategist 3 THINGS TO DO to ensure quality in-house coaching program 1- Let people ask for coaching & ensure a true coaching relationship is possible 2- Make it available to all employees and enjoy the culture change. 3- Visit our site and CONTACT US to train your internal team and build your program. In our previous paper “Debugging 5 myths about coaching”, we looked at that myth: “coaching is better done when the coach is coming from the outside”. It is most likely that this statement is inherited from history; at start coaches were actually only external, and therefore always sourced outside. Nowadays, prices for external coaches can greatly varied, a Harvard Business Review (published in 2009) reports prices to range from $200 to $3500 per hour, with the majorities between $500 and $725. With an average length of coaching program of about 10 hours, the total cost can quickly accelerate if you are to open this option to many people. And we know, “How much is that going to cost?”, “How is that going to improve the bottom line?”, are the most often asked questions in the corporate world. Reducing cost is not always something that is immediate to see. Developing an in-house coaching program will mean training employees or hiring new ones with the right competencies. Often, people within the L&D team are excellent candidate for picking up the added skills; since coaching is an extremely good skills to use when conducting training, the L&D employee will also improve the quality of their training. The cost of one coaching program for one single person can often cover the basis of coaching training. One advantage of training employee is to start having more power on the quality of the coaching and ensure to have a common methodology, standard and quality across the company. It is possible to have an increase immediate cost, which will be the investment in the training, however this would quickly be compensated in the long term. Is it a mandatory evolution? When thinking coaching program, the ideal situation is actually to combine the benefits of both worlds, internal and external team of coaches. Developing in-house program means reduction of costs and therefore the possibility to open coaching programs to most -and ideally all- employees. Having a few external coaches available ensures that everybody have the possibility of a true coaching relationship; and the team of internal coaches will most likely benefits from external supervision. When embarking on developing a coaching program within a company, one needs to understand that this is always associated with a change of culture with the development of values such as trust, respect and authenticity, three elements which have been identified as creativity and performance booster. Is it a mandatory evolution for every organization? We will have to see for the future as more and more company are moving toward self-management or collaborative model relying on an increased level of autonomy and self-leadership at the employees. Watch out for our next article “#4 Developing self-leadership.” To know more, contact the author - Florence Dambricourt – or visit Talking4good @talking4good: powerful conversations for powerful action The Spirit of H2O (Humour, Horizon, Openness) & The rhythm of M2E (Movement, Mantra, Energy)

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