Executive coaching has become more commonplace and has lost the previous stigma of being reserved for executives in trouble. That is a good thing. Having a coach is a privilege and more leaders are warming to that notion. A coach can be incredibly helpful. Having coached numerous senior executives, I have found that there are three keys to a successful coaching engagement.
The first two keys to a successful coaching engagement precede the actual coaching work.
- The coachee must want a coach. Coaching is like hiring a personal trainer. If you are not serious about getting into shape, then no trainer no matter how good and motivating is going to be able to help you. Therefore, the coachee must be open to having a coach and be receptive to receiving feedback in an effort to improve performance. Coaching is about helping people to see their blindspots and channeling their energy to maximize strengths. This requires commitment and openness from the coachee. A good way to think about this is to alter the joke about changing a light bulb. “How many coaches does it take to change a light bulb? One, but the light bulb has to want to change.”
- Coaching is about chemistry. Coaching is about personal chemistry, not science chemistry. Much like dating, if there is no chemistry between two people it is doomed from the start. Too many companies make the mistake of assigning a coach. The likelihood that the assigned coach and the coachee hit it off is quite low. In my experience the best approach is for a company to select three potential coaches for each engagement. Have the coachee meet with each of the coaches and then have them choose the coach they are most comfortable with.
- Set clear goals for the engagement. Without a clear plan and desired outcomes, it becomes very difficult to measure the effectiveness of the coaching engagement. During the first few sessions, the coach and the coachee should create a one page goals document which outlines the desired outcomes from the engagement. This document should be revisited over time to ensure that the coaching is providing the right type of assistance and that progress is being made.
When coaching works well it can have a dramatically positive impact on an organization and most importantly on the individual being coached. As a coach, there is nothing more pleasing than to have a coaching client reach back out to you years later to tell you that your work with them changed their life and helped them to improve as a person and as a professional.
The approach outlined above is the standard process employed by Groove Management. We have found it to be very successful because it creates a shared responsibility from the start of the engagement. To learn more about our coaching process or to consider our coaching services please reach out to Groove Management.