Implementing an internal coaching programme in a business with 1000+ employees taught me some valuable principles. The goal was simple, to be able to offer coaching to all employees to help individuals deal with work-based challenges. This was to be provided by a team of in-house coaches that we would select, train and support, and they would fit their coaching assignments in and around ‘the day job’.
We began by asking for applications from anyone, regardless of rank, location and previous experience to apply to be an internal coach. We were clear in our definition of what our internal coaches would be required to do, and we used the person specification detailing the behaviours needed as part of our advertisements. We were delighted when we received applications from a wide and varied cross-section of individuals across the business.
The subsequent training and selection of our first tranche of coaches was fairly rigorous, and we ensured those that ‘passed’ and were deemed suitable to be listed as internal coaches were then supported with a coaching supervisor. Our regular get-togethers to provide top up skill sessions and a chance to discuss any issues were an important part of supporting our coaching team.
My tips for anyone else considering implementing a coaching scheme include the following:
Coaching for all – a constant message to push
Over the years that the scheme was in place we found that continued publicity was needed, as employees generally were slightly hesitant to make use of the service, almost as if they could not actually believe they were entitled to make use of such a thing. We were always very clear in our offer – coaching was available to any employee regardless of job role or rank, and we would suggest in our ‘advertising’ typical scenarios in which someone may require coaching, such as a job role change, considering career options, or dealing with a difficult situation.
The stigma around needing coaching
At one time I was receiving lots of requests from individuals that were exploring the option to have a mentor. When I chatted through what they were hoping to get from a mentoring relationship, it seemed for many of them it was actually a coaching need. It occurred to me that maybe there is a stigma still attached to coaching, like it is only needed when there is support required that is remedial in nature, whereas mentoring gives off the impression of forward movement, someone seeking a development opportunity. With this in mind, it was important that we promoted coaching continually, what it is, how it can help, and what it can be used for to help clear up this misconception. It was important to make it part of the everyday language of the business and part of a range of tools available.
Offering coaching skills as a development opportunity
We were always pleasantly surprised by the level of interest and the quality of applications every time we were looking to recruit additional coaches to our internal team. There was something really powerful about having coaches that weren’t from within HR and it was amazing to discover individuals across the business that had a natural gift and affinity with coaching. The fact of being able to give these individuals the development opportunity that coaching training provided for them was fantastic, and in some ways, this helped ‘draw out’ some individuals that have really great people skills that have the potential to do more that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
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This case-study/blog demonstrates the track record of directors of Talentstorm and was not performed under the Talentstrom trading entity.