Four Steps to get your Staff Ready for Coaching

A coaching program is just like any other initiative—you can’t just jump in feet first without preparing your staff beforehand. To get your staff ready for coaching, here are four key steps from Dr. Robert P. Hewes, who is senior partner at Camden Consulting Group, a provider of integrated talent management solutions for organizational and leadership development.

“Just get them a coach!”

As a coaching firm, Camden Consulting Group hears this on a regular basis, but it tends to raise a potential warning flag. Often, it is a rallying cry without an accompanying desire, understanding, or readiness to seek change from the coachee—the individual receiving the training. It is critical to have a coachee who is cognizant of why he or she is receiving coaching and who is motivated for the coaching to start.

To increase the success rate of coaching, companies—specifically the coachee’s manager and HR department—need to accomplish these four steps before the professional coach is brought on board:

  1. Introduce the role of the sponsor. This is about the role the sponsor needs to play to make a coaching engagement successful from the beginning.
  2. Provide specifics. This explains the “what” of the engagement, providing examples of why the employee is getting a coach.
  3. Align the manager and HR. It is critical that the coachee’s manager, HR, and the company agree on the reasons the employee is in need of coaching. They should have similar examples and points of needed and desired improvement.
  4. Enlist the coachee. It is all about motivation. The manager and HR professional need to speak with the coachee to clearly explain why he or she is receiving coaching.

The real point here is to have clarity of purpose and to create a shared understanding with the coachee. What you must avoid is having an individual meet a coach and say, “I don’t know why I am here.” It happens, but there are ways to prevent it.

  1. Introduce the Role of the Sponsor.

Make time for the coaching to take place. With sponsorship, it should be straight-forward, with the coachee’s manager playing this role. At a basic level, everyone knows the manager is the sponsor; however, the manager should also act like a sponsor. It is critical to have a manager involved in the coaching by doing the following:

By making time, the manger sends a strong signal that this is important. Conversely, the manager sends the wrong message if he or she does not make an effort.

TIP: Tell the coachee you will make time for the coaching, and then actually be available.

  1. Provide Specifics (Initial Goals, Feedback, and Examples).

This should not be the first time someone is getting feedback. A crucial element in this process is for the sponsor (manager) to have initial goals, specific feedback, and examples for the coaching candidate. This may sound crazy, but this seemingly simple step gets missed or performed vaguely.

As a manager, you should have clear coaching goals in mind and should clearly communicate a coherent, actionable list of these issues to the coachee. It should never be up to the coachee to figure out why he or she needs a coach. Generalizations are fine, but nothing helps more than specific feedback and examples.

As you prepare to get someone ready for coaching, you also must be prepared to answer these questions from the candidate:

TIP: Explain the capability or competency you want a person to focus on, be very detailed (e.g., developing your people, having a results focus, or effectively working through others), and provide examples.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, Hewes details the final two steps: alignment of the manager and HR and enlisting the coachee.