fine-tune your performance and productivity
clarify your unique value to your organization
become a more effective leader
expand your understanding of organizational power and politics
our experience, people are motivated to seek coaching when they
under-performing--by their own or the organization's standards
experiencing the same problem over and over and want a new approach
receiving troubling feedback from others, directly or indirectly
having difficulty understanding or dealing with political situations
or others that require excellent influence skills
not getting the cooperation or results from others that they
wanting to increase their current job satisfaction
needing to prepare for their next career step
a good coach uses a process with several steps;
ContractingIn an initial conversation, the client
and coach gain a shared understanding of the client's needs, opportunities,
goals, and outcomes; agree on what the client can expect from
the coach and vice versa; create an explicit agreement about confidentiality
and how data will be used; and determine logistics such as frequency
of meetings, location, and other terms of engagement.
AssessmentIt is important to have independent and
comprehensive information about how stakeholders view the client.
This information is usually gathered in a combination of ways
including an instrumented 360 profile, interviews of stakeholders
by the coach, and real-time observation. It is frequently helpful
for the coach to observe key meetings which enable him/her better
to understand the organization culture and environment in which
the client works.
PlanningAfter meeting together several times and
reviewing the assessment data, specific goals and desired outcomes
are developed along with a plan for how the work will proceed.
Ongoing workCoaching is most effective when meetings
occur regularly and last long enough for in-depth exploration.
The focus is on the client's stated goals and real-life situations.
The client is drawn far enough outside his/her comfort zone to
investigate fully those situations in which he/she must be successful
and to develop new behavioral and strategic alternatives. In subsequent
meetings, the results of experiments with new options are evaluated
and refined. The coaching process aims for the client to develop
skills in identifying desired outcomes, assessing influence targets,
and creating behavioral strategies.
EvaluationPeriodically, the progress and results
of the coaching process are reviewed, celebrated, and if necessary,
the plan is modified.
have found that those who benefit the most from working with a
chosen to engage in the process, or are at least willing participants
clearly understand the reasons and desired outcomes even if
someone else suggested the coaching
have been actively involved in the selection of the coach
have specific, articulated goals for participating
make a commitment to regular meetings, and protect this time
do their "homework"
is important to select your coach carefully. Good coaching relationships
are based on mutual trust, a willingness on the part of both client
and coach to be honest and straightforward and to lean into difficult
issues, the desire of the client to engage in a development process,
and the competence of the coach. We encourage you to seek referrals
from colleagues who have had successful coaching relationships
and/or your HR or OD professionals. Ask for and check the references
of prospective coaches, paying attention to their backgrounds,
experience, and credentials. The person with whom you work on
your professional development and career should qualified to work
with individual, organization, and systems dynamics.
help you get a first-hand view of what coaching is like, we invited
a couple of our coaching clients to talk about their experiences
in their own words.
is one person's view:
have moved quickly through my career based on my technical merits...and
four years ago joined a fast growing public firm. As the Company
grew, the requirements of my job focused more on the managerial
and interpersonal aspects and less on the technical. I attended
a few management development courses, but they were too general
and not very effective. I paid no attention to the interpersonal
aspects of my job, and over time found myself increasingly in
conflict situations with Executive Staff over small details.
after Tracy and I started working together, I took charge of a
global ERP implementation project, a role that is 90% relationship
driven and only 10% technical. By showing me how to study patterns
of behavior and strategize different approaches that work best
with different people, Tracy has helped me make the necessary
changes in my approach to working with people. I have become more
outcome-focused and less concerned with 'being right.'
the five months I have been managing the ERP implementation, I
have actively used learned skills to keep the project on track."
here is another's:
sought a management coach when I began to realize that my leadership,
while seemingly effective, could be much more so. This was causing
a great deal of frustration on my part, especially since I tend
to be a perfectionist!
soon discovered that some of my barriers to being a more effective
leader had less to do with my day-to-day professional activities
than with my assumptions about and views toward others, both personally
and professionally. My coach helped me to refocus in ways that
vastly increased my level of self-awareness. She has also enabled
me to be more clear about and better able to articulate the results
and outcomes I wantfrom both others and myself. One benefit
of this has been that those with whom I work are less likely to
be surprised or feel blindsided after-the-fact.
though I knew when I started that there would probably be some
work involved, I secretly hoped that I would find easy answers
and get confirmation for my view of things and approach to management
and leadership. I underestimated the degree of difficulty, but
with lots of support and gentle nudging, she has ensured that
I have maximized the return on this effort. The outcomes to date
have been dramatic for me."
"Four Essential Ways that Coaching can Help Executives"
by Robert Witherspoon and Randall P. White (Center for Creative
first use of the word "coach" in English occurred in
the 1500s to refer to a kind of carriage. "Hence," say
Witherspoon and White, " the root meaning of the verb 'to
coach' is to convey a valued person from where he or she was to
where he or she wants to be." Coaching is a process that
helps executives learn, grow, and change. Although what coaching
involves depends on the specific executive and situation, executive
coaching falls into four categories:
1. Coaching for Skills
2. Coaching for Performance
3. Coaching for Development
4. Coaching for the Executive's Agenda
FOR SKILLS is learning focused on a person's current task or project.
This coaching is usually needed for the short term and the coaching
goals tend to be clear and specific. Settings well-suited for
this coaching role are to support:
learning on the job (e.g., before or after a first board meeting
traditional classroom training
changes in job roles and/or responsibilities
FOR PERFORMANCE is learning focused on a person's current
job. Typically, the executive feels the need to function more
effectively at work, or to address performance issues. For executives
having difficulty, the challenge is to correct problem behaviors
before they jeopardize productivity or derail a career. This type
of coaching is usually seen as appropriate for the short or intermediate
term although there may be less consensus within the organization
about the need for performance coaching. And because this type
of coaching can feel more threatening to some executives than
skills coaching, it tends to involve more time. This coaching
role is best used to:
clarify performance goals
orient and support newly appointed executives
increase confidence and commitment after a career setback
deal with blind spots that detract from otherwise outstanding
FOR DEVELOPMENT is learning focused on a person's future job.
Typically, the executive needs to prepare for a career move, often
as part of succession planning discussions. Coaching for development
tends to involve a deeper focus on executive development and personal
growth. The coaching sessions here typically focus on development
for a future job by helping an executive discover strengths and
weaknesses, and to determine where growth is needed.
an executive's agenda is often broad and evolving, COACHING FOR
THE EXECUTIVE'S AGENDA tends to involve learning in the largest
sense. Often the executive desires a confidant to offer insight,
perspective, and constructive feedback on ideas and experiences.
The format for this coaching is ongoing, and coaching sessions
evolve in response to the executive's agenda. Frequently, this
type of coaching is used to support change management by preparing
an executive to successfully implement a change initiative, or
to expand options when creative suggestions could improve the
chances for sound decisions. The coach often acts as a sounding
board and offers feedback and suggestions to enhance the executive's
Essential Ways That Coaching Can Help Executives" will be
especially valuable to executives considering entering a coaching
relationship and for HR professionals who are interested in bringing
a coaching capability into their organization.
Web-sites and Other Resources we've found about this topic include:
Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara <www.hudsoninstitute.com>
Hudson Institute offers a four-day program called Life Launch
that is a very effective planning-for-the-rest-of-your-life experience.
It could also be thought of as a jump-start for an on-going coaching
relationship. They also offer a training and certification program
have published a companion book: Hudson, F.M. and McLean, P.D.
(1995). Life launch: A passionate guide to the rest of your
life. Santa Barbara, CA: The Hudson Institute Press.
audiotape about introducing executive coaching into organizations
is available from the American Society for Training and Development
D. (1986). Executive coaching: Cost-effective, one-on-one guided
development strategies [Audiotape]. Alexandria, VA: American
Society for Training and Development.
you're not getting better, you're falling behind. To elevate your
game, find the personal coach with the right strategy and style
C. (1996, October/November). Wanna be a player? Get a coach! Fast
Company, pp. 145-148. Available in the archive section @ <www.fastcompany.com>
article describes coaching as "the ultimate educational service
for managers," and also suggests that coaching is not a good
"try this at home, do it yourself" activity.
M.J. (1996, October). Are you ready for an executive coach? Harvard
Business Review. <www.hbsp.harvard.edu/hbsp/prod_detail.asp?>
Product number U9610D
a succinct article that enumerates the benefits and outcomes that
can be expected from effective coaching, see:
R. and White, R. (1996, March). Executive Coaching: What's
in it for you? Training and Development, pp. 14-15.