As we train HR professionals to coach leaders in their organizations, they frequently cite these three items as their toughest challenges as an internal coach:
- Building Trust and Credibility: Leaders need to believe that you are a good coach and that they can discuss sensitive issues and feelings with you in confidence. You can build this type of reputation as you coach others who then become your champions and can vouch for your professionalism. Start with a friend or offer coaching as part of an internal leadership development program to gain your first supporters.
- Addressing Tough Issues: How do you coach a leader who is volatile, a micromanager, or isn’t open to receiving feedback? Many times managers of these employees generally avoid these problems and ask HR to deal with it. The ability (and confidence) to coach others on these issues comes from training, experience, and support from the person’s manager. In some cases it is best to look to an outside coach who does not have to worry about navigating the political landscape of the organization.
- Holding People Accountable: As an internal coach, it is hard to hold people accountable for results unless you have the support of their manager. The coach needs to set milestones with deadlines and provide regular follow-up over an extended period of time. Share the action plan and progress with the person’s manager but be careful not to share too much and break the trust you have established with the leader you are coaching.
Most effective coaches have good people skills and are confident in their abilities to help others. Formal coaching training is not a requirement, but it helps you to learn practical skills, gain experience from others, and grow your confidence to confront people on tough issues. We also recommend using a 360 degree feedback survey as a starting point to identify leadership strengths, derailers, and gaps in perception.
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