Internal company coaches facing up to the challenges
==== ====Questions on coaching? This is a great place to find out more:http://bit.ly/ym3YLX==== ====More and more companies are looking seriously at the skill of coaching as a method of developingand enhancing the performance of their staff and teams. The more enlightened organisations nowinsist that all line managers are competent in the skill of coaching whilst others are going evenfurther and creating specialist coach roles in order to support employees and teams within theorganisation. There are, however, six major challenges that the internal company coach has toface and overcome before they can really excel in their coach role and thus bring tremendousbenefits to themselves, the employees and the organisation itself.In this article, Performance Coach, Allan Mackintosh, who was himself an internal company coachfor six years, outlines these six major challenges that the internal coach has to face, and ways thatthe coach can face these with confidence.Challenge No.1 - Recruitment of CoachesCorrect recruitment is vital in any role if the organisation is to get the maximum for their employeesand it is no different in relation to the recruitment of coaches. Great care has to be taken to recruitthe right person in terms of their beliefs and their potential to take on the necessary skill set that isrequired for a competent coach. When I first became an internal company coach in thepharmaceutical industry, the recruitment was done internally with some people identified aspotential coaches but the majority coming from a pool of potentially redundant line managers whowere in this position after a major company re-structure. The result was that certain individualswere forced into a role in order to stay within the company. This was far from ideal and as a resulta number of people did not take to the role and subsequently left the organisation. Others stayedin the role but really struggled to take on the role of the coach and actually behaved more liketrainers. In order to avoid these challenges, organisations really have to take great care in theselection process of coaches in order that they get the right people with enough potential tobecome great coaches in the workplace. Shoddy recruitment only leads to great financial loss inthe long run! Those employees wishing to become coaches should look at what they reallybelieve about people and if they do not believe that everyone has the potential to becomeexcellent in any role they undertake, then they might want to think twice about becoming a coach.If you do not believe in people then do not become a coach!Challenge No.2 - Does the organisation really understand what a coach does?It is vital that the coach role and what coaches do and can achieve, is fully understood byeveryone in the organisation and not just a few supporters of coaching. From the Board to theshop floor, everyone must know what coaching is, what coaches do, how coaching works, andwhat coaching can achieve. Otherwise, confusion reigns and chaos can ensue. In my ownexperience, in the early days, coaching was being promoted by the Chief Executive and a leading
HR executive. Senior Management played along without really understanding what coaching wasand what coaches were supposed to do. The coaches were expected to work with line managersin order to support them through the vast organisational change that was happening along withsupporting and enabling them to develop their skills in leading their teams to success. Onreflection, the role of the coach varied enormously throughout the organisation with coaches insome areas acting like mini-managers, others like trainers and a few actually doing somecoaching! In many respects, some coaches simply did the senior managers bidding.It is essential that everyone understands why coaching is being promoted, especially the linemanagers who may be supporting the coach. They have to agree objectives and methods ofworking so that there is consistency across the organisation. The coaches have to understandwhat they are supposed to be doing and they have to have the skill (and the courage) to stand upto senior management when, perhaps, the management wants them to operate in a way thatperhaps is not actually the coach role. The objectives of the coaches must be consistent andclear, and where possible measures should be put in place in order that the success of thecoaching interventions can be measured and communicated, in order to further the understandingwithin the organisation.Challenge No.3 - Contracting the RoleMany of the challenges within the understanding of the coach role arose due to the fact that thecoaches never really learned how to contract their role with their senior management, their peersand those people they ended up coaching. Contracting is simply a process whereby two people sitdown and discuss expectations and agree a way forward. It is an opportunity to get to know thepeople you are working with, to understand their roles and to agree how best the two are going towork together. It is an opportunity for the coach to get know the person, to get them to fullyunderstand the coach role, to learn what coaching can do for them, and how coaching can workfor them. Only this way will be the managers and coachees gain a full understanding of the role,the skill and what it will mean for them. In the early days in my organisation, coaches ran straightinto task and started attempting to coach individuals and teams without going through thecontracting phase. As a result of a lack of understanding, there was confusion and in may casesmistrust. Many coaches were seen as the senior managers little helper or right hand man andas such huge barriers appeared between some coaches and the people they were supposed to becoaching. Contracting done effectively starts to build understanding, trust and respect. Coachescannot survive without this!Contracting with senior management is a must and it is in this area that coaches have to be verywary. Many managers will expect the coach to divulge information gained from coaching sessionsfrom employees. This can put the coach is a tight spot because as confidentiality is a pre-requisitein almost every coaching conversation and relationship, what happens if the coach lets somethingslip to a senior manager? If this leaks back to the coachee then all trust with the coach will belost. The coach must contract effectively with both senior management and the coachee and thisis where the internal coach may have to be courageous and outline to the manager that there maybe aspects of the coaching conversation that will not be fed back! Similarly the coach has tocontract with the coachee what can and cannot be discussed with a senior manager.Challenge No.4 - Learning the Skills
We were thrown into the deep end. Although we were given some initial theory training webecame coaches without first learning the skills and as a result we bumbled along using themanagerial skills that we had been brought up with. The result was that the coachees saw verylittle difference in skills and behaviours. Coaches were still operating in a tell fashion as opposedto an ask one. We were actually put through an intensive two year programme and althoughsome of it was very beneficial, there was some of the course which to this day, I wonder what thereasons were for it! We were all given a personal coach in order to support us through theprogramme and this, for me, was the turning point in my development and in many respects, mylife. My coach was excellent - challenging yet supportive with the knowledge and experience thatshould go with a training coach. Unfortunately, some of my coach colleagues had coachesallocated to them whose coaching skill allegedly left a lot to be desired. It is vital, in this respect,that mentor coaches are chosen carefully and allocated appropriately.When creating a coach role, I would advise organisations to think carefully about how they aregoing to train their coaches. Training them from within an internal training department is very riskyunless the coaching capability is extremely sound and respected. It may be better lookingexternally and choosing a training organisation which possesses a track record in training coachesand who have good quality coaches on their staff. Do not go for one or even two day trainingcourses. All these do is highlight the skills needed - they do not build the actual skills necessary. Aprogramme which includes theory, practice and follow up coaching is a necessity. Whilst doingthis it is advisable to consider putting senior and middle management on such programmesbecause in the future, who is going to coach the coaches?Challenge No.5 - How do you know the coaching is working?One of the major challenges the coaching industry faces today is actually proving that coachingdelivers what it promises. Many senior executives demand to see the link between coachinginterventions and the bottom line - results. This can sometimes be a challenge because even inthe sporting arena, it is not the coach that gets the result it is the athlete or the team. How manypeople know who the coach is behind the top athletes in the world? Team coaches are probablybetter known due the exposure that they get from the media but very few individual sportschampions coaches are widely known. Yet, these sportspeople would never consider attemptingto do what they do without a coach!In business, internal coaches have to ensure that their interventions are proving to be a catalyst tosuccess whether it is a team success or an individual one. Collecting feedback from coachees isone way, although the coach will have to ensure that the coachee sees the link between thecoaches interventions and the individuals success! Sometimes, the coaching can be so subtlethat coachees do not realise that the coach has actually made the difference even though thecoachee has actually carried out the successful action. Regular reports to senior management area must. They must be kept informed, highlighting successes and challenges, and emphasisingwhere the coaching intervention has brought success and why. Coaches really need to promotethemselves and their actions so that senior management sit up and take notice. One of yourgreatest challenges in the early days as an internal coach was that, as a coach group, we did notstand up for ourselves and promote what we did, why we did it and the successes that wereachieved.Challenge No.6 - Keeping your Development going.
Within organisations there is a great need to deliver through action and as such ongoingdevelopment can take a beat seat with the result that skills are rarely enhanced unless throughthe odd refresher course. Coaches cannot afford to become stale. Although the coach may havegone through an intensive coaching programme over a period of time, it is important that not onlydo they look to keep the skill levels to an acceptable level they should really be looking tocontinually enhance them. Coaching is a skill that needs continual growth and there are more andmore ways to coach effectively being discovered as research into the skill grows. Many internalmanagers and coaches can become insular in that they rarely network outside their organisation.Coaches, in particular should look to join network groups, coaching communities and the variousinstitutes that are now accepting coaching as an essential business tool. Without continuallygrowing your coaching knowledge and skill, the danger is that your skills may become stale withthe result that some of the learned coaching behaviours slip and before you know it, you are backacting as a manager or trainer!Allan Mackintosh is a performance coach, speaker and author dedicated to developing coachingskills in all levels of management. Allan oversees the coaching consultancy, PMC Scotland, and isalso co-owner of teambuilding specialists, Teambuilders International Ltd. He is the author of TheSuccessful Coaching Manager and the creator of the OUTCOMES, CHANGES, CARERS &ASPIRES developmental models. He can be contacted on 00 44 1292 318152 or firstname.lastname@example.org websites: http://www.pmcscotland.comhttp://www.teambuildersinternational.comArticle Source:http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Allan_Mackintosh==== ====Questions on coaching? This is a great place to find out more:http://bit.ly/ym3YLX==== ====