|Dear Visitor,“Hints from the Gatekeepers of Executive Coaching Initiatives.”What are the reasons your organization mandates coaches for its executives? Chances are that mandating is a recipe for successful executive coaching only if your culture is already “friendly” to coaching.
|Coaching as a Surrogate for Training
|One HR executive gave a detailed example of how mandated coaching for executives got off to an inauspicious start but eventually succeeded. In the global IT group of her investment bank, coaching was mandated by the Chief Information Officer (CIO) from the General Manager level on down through the management ranks. The reason? The CIO determined that if his people created and aggressively pursued company-supported personal development plans, their next career move would more likely be made within the company rather than outside it at a competitor’s. A substantial $2 Million commitment was made to provide one-to-one and group coaching. Up to that time, the only coaching that had taken place in the company was performance coaching, and it served as a cattle prod to stimulate market-facing groups (like sales) to exceed target numbers.The contractor – in concert with HR – designed a coaching program that was really a training program, in that (a) it was didactic in nature; (b) it was a group experience for the first couple of months at least; and (c) it was more information than most participants needed, the right amount of information for a few, and too little information for others. By the time the one-to-one coaching phase was ready to roll out, the resistance to the program was so great that one senior manager described it as “a germ and we’re the antibodies!” The moral of the story is: don’t misrepresent a heavy-artillery management initiative as an executive perk.
|Coaching in Support of Change Management Initiatives
|Another scenario recounted to us in our “survey” concerns a technology company that was implementing a new organizational structure. Senior management insisted that company executives and the managers reporting to them undergo group coaching (for the purposes of efficiency and economy) on how to lead employees through the transition. Not a coaching culture to begin with, virtually everyone balked at having to participate in coaching. Instead of being seen as a useful tool, the coaching program was perceived as an imposition, depleting people’s scarcest resource – time. However, a number of executives recognized the usefulness of coaching in enhancing their leadership and demanded one-to-one coaching. When the company decided to fund this complementary initiative, the resistance to the group coaching subsided. The moral of the story is: if you want your people to embrace your coaching offering, find out how they want to receive it.
|Remediation (or behavioral change) coaching is the prevalent reason for mandating executives to participate in it. There are two typical scenarios: (1) an executive produces formidable results for the company but is very lacking in interpersonal skills, causing excessive attrition or mutinous behavior among the rank-and-file employees under her; and (2) an executive is under-performing in his role and is slated for layoff unless his behavior changes radically. If remediation is the primary reason for mandating coaching in an organization, coaching will get a bad reputation. Marshall Goldsmith, a highly sought-after, successful coach, calls the latter scenario “fake coaching…which is not really about development: it is a thinly-disguised, seek and destroy activity. Don’t do that to people. If you want to help people, then help them; if you want to fire people, fire them, but don’t play games with them.” Read an interview with Marshall here.And read our views on Remediation Coaching in our Issue 1 Newsletter.
|Future Platforms for Discussion
|We are committed to providing our clients with sharp insight and expertise in the area of executive development. The following is a list of titles for future issues of our e-letter:”Improve Your Bench Strength with Executive Coaches””Proactive, Just in Time, or After the Fact?””Diversifying Your Executive Ranks and Coaching Team.”.
|Feedback from the Field
|Early this year, we exchanged views on executive coaching decisions with people like you: heads of leadership, management, and executive development programs for major corporations. Themes from their experience, concerns, practices and questions are covered in this and future issues of our e-letter.In terms of the organizational value of mandatory coaching for executives, views were sharply divided. What you did agree on was that mandating works if your corporate culture is coaching-friendly and that one-to-one coaching is vastly preferred to group coaching.Find out more about MMR