Why adopt an internal workplace coaching model?
Historically, larger organisations have employed external coaches to help develop and empower senior and executive staff. However, due to economic pressures, this trend has been evolving towards organisations seeking to develop their own internal coaching capacity (Hawkins, 2012), and develop coaching strategies that permeate throughout the organisation, rather than confining coaching to the “manager as coach” style. In the UK and in the public sector particularly, due to budget restraints, organisations are seeking to develop internal coaching capacity. St John-Brooks (2014, p 3) outlines the key features of internal coaching:
- “That it is a learning and development activity delivered by one employee of an organisation to another (working in different chains of command)
- That it aims to deliver professional growth to the employee and improve their effectiveness
- That it is analogous to external coaching (with all that implies in terms of training, ethical behaviour and professionalism) and
- That it involves two clients – the coaching client, and the organisation”.
What are the benefits of developing an internal workplace coaching model?
St John-Brooks (2014) highlights the main advantages of utilising internal coaches:
- Cost savings; however, there are caveats to cost savings, see the challenges section below.
- Internal coaches are familiar with the culture, structure and processes of their organisation.
- The coach will also benefit from helping the coachee to learn: Mukherjee (2012) reports that internal coaches described the benefits of taking on an internal coach role as improving their own work-life balance, enhanced listening and interpersonal skills, and improved self confidence.
- An internal coach can be more easily contacted, and offer more flexibility for contact between sessions to either troubleshoot difficulties or to encourage momentum.
- The development of an internal coaching community can enhance relationships, and break down barriers across departments, and improve communication and cohesion within the organisation as a whole.
- The organisation will have an in-house internal loop of communication, whereby the coaches can feedback to HR/Senior Executives themes that are arising from coaching sessions that may help the organisation to pre-empt and troubleshoot problems before they arise.
- Utilising internal coaches can create consistency within the coaching culture, rather than employing a range of external coaches with different styles and objectives.
What are the challenges posed by developing an internal coaching culture?
Undoubtedly, cost effectiveness is a significant advantage in developing internal coaching capacity. However, cost savings alone cannot be the only decider, as developing a coaching culture requires long term planning, investment (of time and money), and capacity for developing an in house community of support for internal coaches, to maintain the integrity of coaching practice. Consultancy services from an experienced external lead coach, such as Nicola at NJ Coaching, can help you to develop a coach training plan; devise coaching specific policies and procedures, and ensure that you have a robust ongoing internal community of support for your coaches.
St John-Brooks (2014) states that a challenge to providing internal rather than external coaching can be that an internal coach can lack credibility. This can be addressed by ensuring that your internal coach has undertaken rigorous training that is approved by an external body. The Advanced Coach Training Skills programme delivered by Nine Coaching is approved by the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), and all coaches will receive an ILM endorsed Certificate, which lends more credibility than an internal qualification. ILM endorsed courses are rigorously reviewed to ensure that they meet the standard required by the industry. Furthermore, all coach training delegates are registered with ILM and receive 12 months membership of ILM to support their learning and development.
Further challenges arise in consideration of increased potential for ethical dilemmas to arise with internal coaching. Some of the common dilemmas I have encountered are:-
- The impact of dual roles
- Perception of role power; even if the coachee is not a direct report of the coach, but the coach holds a senior position in the organisation
- Coach slipping into other roles, eg mentoring and advising, rather than remaining within the coaching framework
- Potential discrepancies with confidentiality
- Internal coaches familiarity with the organisation, and other team members can lead to assumptions being made, rather than adopting an appreciative enquiry approach
- If reorganisations or restructuring is taking place, then the coach may also be encountering the same feelings/difficulties as those of the coachee, thereby becoming less objective
In many ways, these dilemmas can be resolved with the use of having robust policies that ensure ethical matching between coach and coachee (ie pre-empting any potential role conflict), and allowing both coach and coachee to consider their matching and offer approval, prior to meeting for the first time. Understanding the importance of developing a coaching contract can also assist with ensuring confidentiality and that the boundaries of coaching are sustained. Undoubtedly, ongoing supervision of coaches not only offers them support in managing any ethical dilemmas, but also allows for monitoring to take place. Nine Coaching can support you in developing your strategy with a package of consultation & design, training and ongoing supervision of your internal coaches to ensure that potential conflicts and ethical issues are minimised.
Additionally, in a bid to minimise the ethical dilemmas and to develop robust support packages, some organisations seek to develop reciprocal coaching arrangements with another organisation. If you would like more information about developing your internal coaching capacity, please make contact now.
How can you help an organisation develop a coaching culture?
There are a number of ways in which Nine Coaching can assist your organisation in developing an internal coaching culture. You will be offered initial consulting services by utilising a coaching framework to help you to consider the pros and cons of developing a coaching culture, and to shape your organisational coaching policies and procedures. Implementing the appropriate coaching specific policies is a crucial element of the success or failure of your internal coaching strategy. Furthermore, Nicola and all Nine Coaching associates can offer ILM endorsed coach training programmes to equip your designated team members with the level of skills, competence and ethical awareness to provide coaching within your organisation. Thereafter, I, and/or my associates can offer ongoing supervision to your coach trained team members to ensure ethical efficacy, embedding of taught skills, and that competent coaching interventions are taking place, for up to twelve months following coach training. An integral aspect of ongoing consultancy intervention is to encourage your organisation to incorporate an internal co-coaching culture that will reduce your dependency on external supervisory input, thus offering further savings.
You can be assured that Nicola, and her associates are all qualified coaches, supervisors and experienced trainers within coaching and allied professions.
About Nicola Forshaw & Nine Coaching
Nicola Forshaw is the lead consultant for all coach training programmes and initiatives, and is a BACP accredited therapist, supervisor & University Lecturer, with over eleven years experience as a qualified coach working in private practice. During 2005, Nicola established NJ Coaching, which has featured on Sky TV and BBC Radio. NJ Coaching has since evolved into ‘Nine Coaching’, an integral part of Nicola’s ‘Nine Wellbeing’ business. Nicola’s extensive coaching portfolio includes 1:1 coaching & coaching supervision, facilitation of ILM approved coach training programmes, and coaching consultancy and supervision services within organisational settings.
Nicola is an accomplished skills trainer, and notwithstanding her academic lecturing career, has delivered the Advanced Coach Training programme to many professionals.
A case study
Nicola has recently consulted on a project to introduce coaching within medicine, and this work has been featured in BACP’s Coaching Today journal.
If you would like to know more.
Nicola is always happy to answer your initial questions, please contact me to book a consultation for further guidance on taking the first steps towards implementing your organisation’s coaching culture.
List of References
CIPD. (2011). Coaching and Mentoring Factsheet (July 2011). http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/factsheets/coaching-mentoring.aspx
Greene J, Grant A. (2003). Solution Focused Coaching. London: Pearson Publications.
Hawkins, P. (2012). Creating a Coaching Culture. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
ICF. (2012). ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study. http://www.coach-federation.org.
Mukherjee, S. (2012). Does coaching transform coaches? A case study of internal coaching.
International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, 10: 76-87.
Rock, D., & Donde, R. (2008). Driving organisational change with internal coaching programmes: Part
One. Industrial and Commercial Training, 40: 10-18.
St John-Brooks, K. (2014). Internal Coaching: The Inside Story. London: Karnac
Tamsin, P., Hirsh., W., & Tyers, C. (2003). Chore to Champion: The Making of Better People
Managers. IES Report No. 389.