The popularity of external executive coaching has grown at a phenomenal rate in recent years, with coaching becoming a standard development offering in most large organisations. This has spawned a large number of professional organisations and training programmes aimed at external coaches, however many would argue that the same level of professional support is not available for the internal coach.
HR departments want to bring more efficiency, accountability, and cost-effectiveness to coaching, and internal coaching is a fantastic way of doing this – by growing a sustainable skills base. While it may not be suitable in all coaching cases, given organisational level, confidentiality, complexity, and other factors, it is nevertheless a very important coaching arena. And, internal to the organisation, it is just as important to set appropriate standards, to ensure quality and to create a professional coaching community.
Ironically though, internal coaching has been flying under the radar of mainstream coaching and many internal coaches find themselves isolated, with little sense of community, support or development of their skills. Added to this, it is often unclear how they should use their coaching and they may receive training which is entirely inappropriate for their needs.
There are two types of internal coach.
- The first is the manager coach – who uses coaching skills to enhance staff relationships and improve staff performance. The manager will use coaching conversations to challenge, acknowledge and empower. These conversations ensure clarity of direction and draw out a sense of responsibility in the staff member.
- The second is the internal coach – who provides an internal coaching service, where previously external executive coaches may have been sought. This coach provides coaching to managers across departments, through a formal coaching process, which incorporates robust and challenging coaching conversations in a defined coaching relationship and methodology. This coaching is aimed at developing talent and supporting times of challenge or transition. To help the manager redefine their goals, improve performance and achieve their purpose.
If organisations want to ensure that internal coaching is a success, then they need to be aware of the two types of coaching and think about how they wish to implement and communicate a training and support programme. Here are some top tips to follow:
- Managers should understand how coaching fits with their existing managerial skills and be taught situational coaching skills for managers, to support staff performance and self direction.
- Internal coach selection should be formalised, with a set of defined criteria.
- Internal coaches should have their coaching role formalised in their work objectives.
- An in-depth training programme should be implemented which is aimed at internal coaches.
- An ongoing development and supervision programme should be available, to ensure quality and a common approach for both managers and internal coaches.
- The overall goals of the internal coaching service need to be linked to organisational priorities and communicated effectively.
If you would like to find out more about how to introduce or improve your internal coaching capability, then please do get in touch. Coaching Direct has a unique modular approach to internal coach training which supports the needs of managers and internal coaches alike.