Proactive, Just-in- Time, or
After-the-Fact Executive Coaching?

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Dear Visitor,Here’s your forth e-newsletter: Hints from the Gatekeepers of Executive Coaching Initiatives.You, who make decisions about executive coaching programs—whether for individual executives or for entire tiers of senior management—have more to consider than just “who” should be served.You, of course, factor into the equation “how” the executives in question should be supported, and “what” should be focused on and accomplished so that the organization will realize the greatest value for its investment in time and money.

Another seemingly random decision is made as to “when” to offer the executives what amounts to one-to-one leadership consulting. While “when” decisions seem random, more often they have an inherent logic: they express the organization’s philosophy toward personal and professional development at the executive level.

Inside This Article
  • Feedback from the Field
  • Proactive Coaching?
  • Just in time?
  • After the fact?
  • Future Platforms for Discussion
  • Your Comments

Proactive Coaching
Proactive coaching is the approach organizations use when they are focused on planning for succession and developing the organization’s bench strength. Typically, proactive coaching is an outgrowth of an organization’s promote-from-within-whenever-possible policy.First, the organization identifies who, within management ranks, has the promise to succeed in an executive role; or who, already in an executive role, has the potential to succeed someone else in a C-level position (e.g., CEO, CFO, COO, or CTO). Then, the organization budgets for executive coaching for each of these people. In these instances, executive coaching is far more than a perk: it is aimed at enhancing in each candidate the leadership competencies needed for the roles he or she may ascend to.Because a substantial investment (time + money) is involved, there is also substantial risk associated with proactive coaching. First of all, the individuals who are participants in such initiatives may not qualify for the positions for which they are being groomed. Or, once identified as high potentials or candidates for top-level positions, some of these individuals will see this as a sign of their increased marketability and may use it as leverage to find high-level positions outside of the organization. Hence, the trend is toward establishing proactive executive coaching programs with a built-in Return-on-Investment (ROI) component.

Just in Time?
Just-in-time executive coaching is the approach organizations favor when they are looking for immediate impact from or immediate implementation of new insights, ideas, processes, etc. An example of just-in-time coaching is the focused coaching that organizations contract for so that their high potentials and succession plan candidates can translate into action the information they get about their leadership from multi-rater assessments (also known as 360∞ surveys).Another example of just-in-time coaching is the one-to-one, follow-up sessions that take place after an individual attends a training class or module. The purpose of these sessions is to lock in the learning and customize it to the training participant’s leadership context.This approach is taken by most organizations as a kind of insurance policy for their investment in the assessment or training, so that the insights are captured and implemented, rather than lost. Just-in-time coaching is seldom subject to the rigors of an ROI analysis. If any evaluation is done, it is most often in the form of a self-administered “satisfaction” survey that participants are asked to complete.

After the Fact?
Executive coaching that occurs after the fact is most often (but not always) remediation focused: what went wrong; what could you have done better? Someone on the Board or in Senior Management observes a behavior that limits or could limit that executive’s capacity to achieve greater success. Soon the executive under scrutiny is provided with a coach to modify the behavior in question.After-the-fact executive coaching is often mandated. Even so, it can work only if the executive’s contribution is otherwise valued by the organization. It invariably fails if the coaching is provided as a way to protect the organization from litigation if dismissal is the result.After-the-fact executive coaching is often met with resistance and, unless extremely carefully positioned, can serve to alienate the executive or cause a permanent breakdown in trust between the executive and his or her peers or superiors.

Future Platforms for Discussion
We are committed to providing our clients with sharp insight and expertise in the area of executive development. The remaining topic we plan to address in this series of our e-newsletters, based on our survey results, is: Diversifying Your Executive Ranks and Coaching Team.

Your Comments
Now’s your chance to share your ideas with us. It’s your ideas that challenge us to provide our best level of service to our clients. Do you strongly agree or disagree with the ideas we’ve presented? Let us know. Do you have an opinion about the industry that you want to share with colleagues? Let us know. We’ll even give you a byline in our next issue—with your permission of course.All comments, suggestions, and articles should be sent to: [email protected]. We publish selected submissions along with the author’s return e-mail address for you to communicate with your counterparts.

Feedback from the Field
This is the fourth in a series of five newsletters on issues that our survey “informants” deemed most important to address (if not solve) for the future success of executive coaching.We learned that some organizations routinely offer coaching to every person newly promoted to executive row. This proactive coaching is intended to ready the new exec for his or her new role. However, other organizations provide coaching only in situations when the exec requires additional support. Still others supply coaching only when the executive’s performance is poor in some area. What approach do you use? Could your organization benefit from another?Find out more about MMR


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