Developing a successful internal coaching service

I was delighted to be part of the Staff Development Forum (SDF) Festival of Learning last week presenting on how to develop a successful internal coaching service.

Internal coaching has been around for a number of years and more and more organisations are looking at setting up their own. Internal coaching can be a great investment and used in many ways to support an organisation; supporting your strategic and talent management aims. It can also be used as one of the key parts to creating a coaching culture.

In my presentation we explored five key areas to consider when setting up a successful internal coaching service, as well as some of the pitfalls that can lead to internal coaching under delivering.

How is coaching perceived?

But before we look at the five considerations, it is important to take a moment to think about how coaching is currently used and perceived in your organisation. This will have a significant impact on the success of your internal coaching plans. It may be that there may be some work needed in addressing the perceptions and assumptions that may exist before introducing an internal coaching service.

There may be areas in your organisation that embrace coaching and value it whilst there may be others who perceive it as a remedial activity and very rarely use coaching. This may be a scenario where piloting a small internal coaching programme may be beneficial. Piloting it in the receptive areas of the organisation and role it out wider when you have ironed out all those glitches and have lots of great stories and testimonials to share.

Five things to consider

The five areas to take some time with and consider when developing a successful internal coaching service are:

Five areas to consider when setting up an internal coaching service

1 The Why

Why do you want to develop an internal coaching service?

Answering the why, and thereby, defining the value of developing an internal coaching service is fundamental to getting support for, and maintaining support for, your initiative. It is important to define internal coaching as a strategic solution linking to key organisation and business activities as well as talent management activities. This will also give you the foundations of your case for an internal coaching service as well as the criteria against which you can measure success.

2 The Sponsorship

Who will be your senior level sponsors and champions?

Your sponsors are those that fully support and value coaching , as well as role model the leadership behaviours that demonstrate and support how coaching is valued in your organisation.

Your sponsors will influence and help build organisational receptivity as well as provide resources and unlock barriers to your success.

3 The What

What is you internal coaching going to be used for?

Where you want to provide internal coaching in your organisation is an important consideration. Some organisations operate in a broad brush way, offering coaching to anyone who wants to access it. Other organisations make it quite focused. For example, supporting leadership and management programmes, to help with retention or succession planning. The what is important as it should not only link to the why, but also then to the who.

4 The Who

Who will be your internal coaches and how will you select them?

Another aspect of setting up a service that often gets forgotten, is that the calibre and skill of your first group of internal coaches will establish the reputation of your internal coaching service. Organisations can open up to anyone who is interested in being a coach without thinking about the type of coach they need to meet the aims and purpose behind the internal coaching service. If people are coming to seek a coach based on what you have published, it is important that your coaches can meet the expectation set otherwise the services reputation may be diminished quite quickly.

At this point it is also important to ensure that if you are training your coaches, the training provider you use delivers the level of coach training relevant to your coaching focus (the what).

5 The How

How will you run your internal coaching service?

This is the detail of running your internal coaching service including your policies and processes around matching clients to coaches, developing a coaching community who continually develop and grow, measuring success and managing ethics and boundaries. This takes time and dedication. Don’t underestimate the amount of commitment needed to successfully run an internal coaching function.

I hope the above has helped you start to shape your thinking around your internal coaching service and developing a successful offering for your organisation. It may have raised more questions and if you would like to discuss your internal coaching plans, or have been reviewing your current service and would like to talk through your thoughts, please do get in touch.

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