question is a very important one. Coaching should be used where it willgenerate the best return. Any number of people might fit the definitionof ‘critical to the success of the company’. But they should be on thislist before being considered for coaching. Remember, the company isgoing to offer coaching support over an extended period; probably atleast six to twelve months. Most coaching engagements start off withweekly meetings that may become bi-monthly later on. There arealways lots of e-mails, phone calls, reading assignments and‘homework’. This means that the investment is not limited to the costof the coach. To make it worth the cost you need the right coachworking with the right team member on the right agenda.
Who needs help?
Sometimes team members face much largerchallenges. Maybe they have been asked to take over an ailing divisionor manage the start-up of a new program. Perhaps they have beenpromoted and now have responsibilities that new require skills andstronger leadership. All of these and more represent situations that canbe eased with the presence of a coach. Such a step sends a clear set of messages. “We recognize that you are under a lot of pressure toperform and are willing to support you and invest in your success?” Allof us get into these situations. We struggle to learn new skills and tocope with new situations. An enlightened organization recognizes thatfact and helps key people work through them. If a friend was drowning,would you throw them a life preserver? Think of a coach as a careerpreserver. One word of caution here, a coach should not be aconsultant who compensates for the client’s lack of skills andknowledge. A good coach will help the client develop those skills andknowledge and, thus, put himself out of a job.
Will the organizational culture support coaching?
This is one thatis often overlooked. Coaching can focus a lot of attention on the client.If the organizational culture is adverse to that kind of attention, therecan be significant problems. Resentment, hazing, abusive behavior andoutright aggression are some of the responses that assigning a coachto a rising star can bring. Coaching is most effective within a culturethat sees its value and supports the people who are being coached.Coaching does not work when the people above, beside or below theclient are indifferent, skeptical or hostile to very idea of coaching. Theywill oppose the changes that the client and organization is trying tomake. Coaching works best when the organizations leadership standssolidly behind the process; if they provide a lift rather than a drag.