10 Internal Coaching Best Practices

If you’re thinking about setting up an internal coaching program, here are 10 steps to ensure your success.

  1. Consider where the greatest impact will be, and start there (some organizations have as many as four distinct internal coaching programs plus appropriately use external coaches as needed).
  2. Carefully define the kind of coaching to be offered and the outcomes to be achieved.
  3. Identify who will receive coaching (based on criteria such as leadership level, participation in a high-potential program, or other special circumstances).
  4. Identify who will provide the coaching (based on criteria for who will be most effective and credible working with the recipients).
  5. Make the coach role part of the person’s job description, and assign a coach no more than three participants to coach.
  6. Train the coaches to use proven coaching methodologies and to recognize when coaching conversations start to drift into counseling (and what to do about it).
  7. Move forward with coaching starting with a verbal contract of what is in scope and out of scope for the coaching engagement.  Be specific about the responsibilities of the coach and the participant.
  8. Ensure internal coaches do not get involved with topics that could put the company at risk legally. Stay away from issues of a “protected” nature, or situations involving mental illness, addictions, or illegal behavior.  These should be referred promptly to HR or the EAP.
  9. Select an appropriate coach for the specific individual. Help the coach establish credibility based on his or her experience, understanding of the presenting issue or challenge, ability to listen thoroughly and engage thoughtfully, appreciation of what it takes for the individual to change, and an adequate tool kit of assignments and approaches that bring quick wins.
  10. Require potential coaching participants to engage in a 360-degree feedback process at the beginning of the coaching engagement. This gives the coach and participant a powerful, data-based platform from which to work together—based on the congruence and/or dissonance apparent in self perceptions compared to the perceptions of others.

I’d welcome your comments. Do you have any others tips to share?  Which have you found to be most useful?  Any recommendations on what not to do?
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