When I first discovered an interest in coaching, and started talking to friends and family about it, I remember them looking at me skeptically and worrying that I was being caught up in fad, or money-making pyramid scheme that would could quickly fizzle out and leave me with burnt fingers.
Ten years later, with a number of coaching qualifications, over 1,000 coaching hours under my belt and clients internationally, I can advocate that the profession of coaching is still alive and thriving.
The Ridler Report is an internationally reputed research project analyzing strategic trends in the use of senior level executive coaching. The 2013 report confirms trends that I have noticed in my coaching business:
• A trend toward internal rather than external coaches
• The growth in team coaching
• More discerning purchasers of coaching
I am just going to focus on the first point: The trend toward internal coaches.
I have welcomed the growth of internal coaching for some time, if it had been prevalent when I started my coaching career, it would have been my choice to coach within an organizational structure.
An internal coach uses their skills and organizational knowledge to support and challenge staff through promotion, navigate change, to integrate into the organization and increase performance.
This is the optimal way to make the most of the staff you have, providing them with the meaning in the work they do as well as the challenge they need to keep them motivated. Not to mention that it's cost effective.
Of course there are challenges, such as: time to coach, credibility and managing boundaries.
The thing to remember is that internal coaching is not appropriate for every situation and external coaches can still be used for specific interventions, for example CEO's and Directors typically do not use internal coaches.
So what are the keys to making your internal coaching service a success?
1. Good quality accredited training for your coaching pool -- this ensures that coaches feel confident are equipped to coach internally. They also have a portable qualification to reward them for their efforts.
2. On-going continuous professional development and supervision -- it's really easy for good practice to slip, regular development will maintain and increase the quality of coaching as well as provide a forum for sharing and community.
3. Adhering to coaching ethics and standards from a professional coaching body -- reputation is everything for the internal coach, once your credibility is gone there is no going back and if your clients don't trust you, you cannot coach them.
4. Clearly communicating the purpose and audience for internal coaching -- this can be defined through your business case for coaching. Once this is clear there are no doubts around favouritism or exclusion.
5. Having a consistent and transparent coaching process -- all coaches should be using the same documentation and process, this presents a professional process and one that can be more easily evaluated.
And lastly, don't forget to evaluate the success of coaching, so that you can continue to improve your service and demonstrate the positive difference that it makes.
I am Jenny Garrett, founder of Reflexion Associates, a leadership and coaching consultancy that provides transformational ILM accredited coaching training, one to one coaching, and team building. A case study of our work developing internal coaches within Croydon NHS Trust was recently published in Human Resource Management International Digest and can be viewed here