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Internal Coaching: The Inside Story

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Internal Coaching: The Inside Story provides a window into the world of internal coaching: the challenges and rewards for the coaches themselves and the ways in which organisations can ensure that they can get best value for money from their investment in them.Internal coaching is booming. A recent survey showed that nearly four fifths of large organisations in the UK believe that internal coaching (that is coaching delivered by one employee to another in a different chain of command) will grow over the next three years. Yet there has been surprisingly little written about the unique nature of the internal coaching role. Drawing on the stories of hundreds of internal coaches, coach sponsors, lead coaches, supervisors of internal coaches and coach trainers, Internal Coaching: The Inside Story gives internal coaches a voice. It makes available to hard-pressed HR directors, talent managers, and learning and development professionals the fruits of very practical research into what is working in organisations and how they might maximise the value for money they get from their investment in internal coaches. The whole aim is to stimulate thinking and be a catalyst for generating options and choices. In the words of its author: "My dream is that, every few pages, a reader somewhere will think: 'Now that's a good idea. We should think about trying that.' "

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Chapter One: Introduction

ePub

There is a multitude of coaching books on the market, but none focusing exclusively on internal executive coaching. You might think that the dearth of attention is because, to all intents and purposes, there are few differences between internal and external executive coaching but this is not so—neither from the point of view of the coaches nor of the organisations that deploy them. The fact that internal coaches coach within the organisation that employs them has a variety of consequences for the coaches, some beneficial, some less so, that need exploring. Also, from the point of view of an organisation wanting to provide coaching for its managers, the processes involved in selecting, training, and supporting a cadre of internal coaches are vastly different from those required for procuring the services of external coaches. The costs, benefits, and challenges presented by the two options for providing coaching are sufficiently different for internal coaching to deserve special attention.

 

Chapter Two: The Role of the Internal Coach

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It's hugely rewarding to feel that you have fundamentally improved someone's take on, approach to, or enjoyment of their professional life

Internal coach

What this chapter is about

Internal coaching, like any other professional activity, can be delivered in many ways. It is clear that organisations are adopting a variety of different models for organising and managing their internal coaching according to their needs, resources, and culture. If you are thinking of becoming an internal coach you may be interested in what sorts of people it appeals to, what the role involves, and what it is like.

This chapter explores:

Who are internal coaches?

Where do they work?

Not surprisingly, organisations look to HR, organisation development (OD), and L&D practitioners when seeking volunteers to train as internal coaches. The rationale is that they will often have relevant skills and there is a high likelihood that they will use the enhanced skills that they acquire during the coach training in their day jobs. They may already be involved in, say, giving feedback to managers about their performance and may already be trained in relevant instruments such as a 360-degree feedback tool or MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) which can be helpfully used also in their formal coaching. Indeed, many internal coaches are qualified to use a psychometric or profiling tool with MBTI, 16PF, Hogan, OPQ and FIRO-B the most common (some of which are commonly used in recruitment and assessment rather than development).

 

Chapter Three: Recognising Ethical Dilemmas

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Life was much simpler when my biggest dilemma in life was deciding what Pop-Tart to eat for breakfast

—Unknown

What this chapter is about

What would you do if you smelt alcohol on your client's breath at ten o'clock in the morning? Or your client wants to discuss a difficult relationship with a colleague who happens to be a close friend of yours? An understanding of coaching ethics and the ability to apply them appropriately is fundamental to being a coach. This chapter explores:

What are “ethical dilemmas”?

Perhaps it is first worth examining the term ethical dilemmas. I am aware that there is something about the word ethical that can make people switch off. If you were to say to a roomful of coaches: “Let's talk about ethics in coaching” you would get a very different response than if you were to say: “Let's discuss what you might do if your coaching client let drop that they had resumed recreational use of cocaine.” As Judit Varkonyi-Sepp put it in her report on the eighth annual conference of the British Psychological Society's special group in coaching psychology (Varkonyi-Sepp, 2013): “The word ‘ethics’ might send shivers down one's spine thinking about this as an abstract, boring, legislation-filled dry topic, but it is not…Ethics is everywhere in what we do and it was a light bulb moment to recognise how very practical it is” (p. 108).

 

Chapter Four: Addressing Ethical Dilemmas

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In the Book of Life, the answers aren't in the back

—Charlie Brown

What this chapter is about

I hope that I have whetted your appetite for thinking about the ethics of coaching and have removed any mystique there may have been around the word ethical in the context of coaching. This chapter aims to demonstrate the importance of ethics in an internal coach's practice and offer some ideas for those occasions when a dilemma is that bit trickier to resolve. In the last chapter, I made reference to a variety of dilemmas of varying difficulty but was careful to avoid suggesting that there was a “right” answer for any particular situation. This is because the defining feature of a dilemma is that there is probably no one right answer—it will come down to context, culture, and the ethical stance of the individual. Basically we will not all necessarily make the same decision when faced with the same situation.

This chapter explores:

Some of you may not yet have encountered an ethical dilemma or, if you have, it may have been fairly easily addressed. But it would be a very unusual coach who never had to resolve an ethical dilemma in the course of their coaching. The importance of being able to recognise and handle dilemmas ethically is recognised by the coach selectors in an international bank referenced by Hawkins (2012). They said that one of the questions that helped them to separate the external coaches that they accepted from those they turned down was: “Please describe an ethical dilemma you have faced in your coaching and how you dealt with it” (p. 53). The thinking underlying my original research with internal coaches was that they were likely to be exposed to more dilemmas than external coaches are and that is why how to recognise and resolve ethical dilemmas holds a special place in this book.

 

Chapter Five: Why have Internal Coaches?

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The leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell. The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask

Peter Drucker

What this chapter is about

An internal coaching resource can bring a huge number of benefits to an organisation. It is, however, not without its challenges. This chapter discusses the advantages and highlights some of the drawbacks, with the aim of improving your awareness of the issues and enabling you to decide whether internal coaching would be a good fit for your organisation.

The chapter explores:

Every organisation that wishes to use coaches has to weigh up the pros and cons of bringing in external coaches as against developing their own internal coaching service. Many organisations deploy a combination of internal and external coaches to deliver their coaching needs. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to each.

The factors in the following table are drawn from work by Carter (2005), Hall, Otazo, and Hollenbeck (1999), and Mukherjee (2012). They are corroborated by many practitioners, though the importance of some factors will depend on context. This chapter expands upon them.

 

Chapter Six: Developing a Coaching Strategy

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If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!

Benjamin Franklin

What this chapter is about

This chapter explores:

Why have a strategy?

Some people have trouble with the word “strategy” and find the word “plan” less off-putting. Also some people are natural planners while others take a more emergent approach. Whatever your natural preference, some kind of strategy or plan is essential, both to help you to think through what you want to do and how you want to do it, and as a vehicle for getting everyone on board who needs to be—and all moving in the same direction.

Internal coaching schemes come in all shapes and sizes. Your internal coaching resource may consist of two people who were already experienced coaches when they joined the organisation; who co-supervise each other and are members of a coaching professional body, so subscribe to its code of ethics and access CPD through it. Their coaching activities may cost your organisation virtually nothing. Or you may be lead coach for a multinational company with many internal coaches; run a sophisticated coach management system; provide regular supervision for the coaches from an external provider; arrange bi-monthly CPD sessions; put on an annual conference; and so forth. Clearly your strategies will look very different in their scope, scale, and sophistication. While I hope your thinking will benefit from reflecting on the issues raised in this chapter, obviously your response to them will be proportionate to the scale of what you are already doing or proposing to do.

 

Chapter Seven: Building the Organisational Framework

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If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you do not know what you're doing

W. Edwards Deming

What this chapter is about

One of the lead coaches I interviewed as part of research for this book mentioned that if a supervisor for one of his coaches were unavailable, internal coaches would come to him if they had an ethical dilemma to talk through. I queried whether this arrangement was covered in the coach's initial contracting with the client, and he realised that it probably was not. In the contracting conversation, the coaches only talked about sharing information with the coach's supervisor, not with the lead coach. Potentially, these situations could lead to a breach of confidentiality and need to be thought through.

When using internal coaches, issues can arise that are beyond the scope of individual contracting. You need some corporate policies and processes. This chapter offers some thoughts for drafting these, and for communicating with the rest of the business. While you will not want to build an unnecessary edifice of documents, there are a number of considerations to take into account when setting up the organisational framework. This chapter covers:

 

Chapter Eight: Selection and Training

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Those organisations that scrimp on the careful selection, training and supporting of internal coaches run serious risks. Ultimately their greatest risk may be that they undermine the perception of coaching as a learning tool because of the lack of credibility of their internal coaches

Hunt & Weintraub, 2006, p. 4

What this chapter is about

Generally it is the responsibility of the lead coach to select people with the potential to make good internal coaches and provide them with the right length, depth, and scope of training to enable them to do a good job.

This chapter explores:

Selection

Routes to identifying potential coaches

The method you use to recruit your coaches will depend on a number of factors, including how many coaches you need; for what purpose; and how much resource you have at your disposal for running the recruitment process. One tip offered by experienced lead coaches is to select and train more coaches than you initially think you need to allow for an inevitable process of attrition. Some coaches will fall by the wayside during training; some may not make the grade; some may be made redundant from their day job soon after they complete their training; some may move to a new, very heavily loaded role and no longer have time for their coaching role. If you train your coaches as a cohort then the unit cost of adding a few additional trainees may be fairly low.

 

Chapter Nine: Supervision and Continuous Professional Development

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If you don't provide supervision for internal coaches…the sustainability and return on investment of your coaching initiative is in jeopardy

Hawkins & Schwenk, 2006, p. 17

What this chapter is about

Learning to be a good coach takes training, practice, and support in the form of supervision and continuous professional development. There is no “quick fix”. Some trainee coaches will have so many transferable skills and aptitudes from former roles and life experience that they will hit the ground running. Others will need longer to settle into the role. But either way, a three-day training programme—or even a diploma programme spread out over six to nine months—is not enough to support the development of your coaches. A programme of supervision and continuous professional development (CPD) is essential for refining your coaches' skills; maintaining ethical standards; providing opportunities for them to reflect on and learn from their practice; giving them exposure to different approaches; and staying current on issues and practices within the profession. Anything less is exposing your coaches and their clients to unnecessary risks.

 

Chapter Ten: Evaluation

ePub

One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results

Milton Friedman

What this chapter is about

Your internal coaches are doing a great job. Why would you not want to demonstrate that to them, to your sponsors, and to the rest of the business? This chapter looks at evaluation, finding a suitable way of measuring what you and they are achieving and how this adds value to the business. What are you going to measure? Who are you going to ask? How will you collect the information? Will it be quantitative or qualitative? You will ideally need some metrics but without some sense of the clients' experience, the data will be the poorer: success stories do bring a spreadsheet to life.

This chapter explores:

What is evaluation?

Let us distinguish at the outset between monitoring and evaluation. Most lead coaches monitor, in the sense of keeping track of how many live coaching relationships there are. If you have invested in coach management software, this sort of information will be available to you at the click of a mouse. This is about the activity. However, evaluation is about the outcomes: analysing the impact of those coaching relationships on the individual client and more widely on the team or business. There is a wide variety of practice at present, from virtually no evaluation at all to very sophisticated multi-stage evaluation processes, sometimes using external consultancy expertise.

 

Appendix

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