The Build-Out of a Strong Executive Coaching Structure

            Every organization that aims to build long-lasting success strives to invest in their management team to ensure that they are well-equipped to tackle the challenges and opportunities that the organization faces, helping to drive further returns on investment (ROI).

            To achieve better managerial ROI, mentorship and coaching has become a key part of the solution. Yet, to become successful, both the coach and ‘coachee’ need to build the right processes, be actively engaged and look to build a rapport to help facilitate the progression in relations and professional goals. Strong process in executive coaching is not necessarily complicated – quite the opposite. Here are the essential steps:

Background, Context and Desired Outcomes

            At the start of a potential long-lasting coaching relation, it is essential to talk about one’s background, context and desired outcomes. A background allows the coach to see some of the steps that have been taken up until now. Context tells the listener what and why has driven someone to begin this new relationship. The desired outcomes tell the listener what is expected from the relationship throughout and by the end of that time. By doing so, it creates space for better understanding and clarity, but most importantly, to recalibrate expectations from all parties.

            The coach must understand from the initial inquiry why coaching is the selected development resource. Good questions include whether the individual has agreed and whether they’re committed to their own growth. In addition, inquiries about the company culture & expectations and the potential client’s reputation and image within the organization can help determine some of the basic current challenges at play. Finally, in a general sense, the organization and the coach need to ask and understand which results are expected coaching.

Fit, Contract and Objectives

            Similarly to mentorships, before committing to an engagement, the coach and client must meet and determine whether they feel they can work together – and assessing fit must be a two-way street such that either party has the opportunity to veto the arrangement if there is an irreconcilable difference. 

            Once suitability has been established, the coach and client must agree to ground rules and terms of engagement. Meeting frequency and duration, cancellation and no-show policies and agreements regarding confidentiality are typically part of this process.

Executive Sponsorship

            In many cases, executive coaching occurs within an organizational context and so must include perspective from outside the individual client. This external perspective ensures that coaching goals and areas of focus are aligned with and relevant to organizational interests. 

            For that, companies are encouraged to have an executive sponsor who holds accountability for the organization achieving the desired return on investment in coaching. 

            The executive sponsor is ideally, but not necessarily, the client’s direct reporting manager and the coaching engagement preferably begun with a three-way meeting to set goals and agree on areas of focus. It is important to reiterate that confidentiality is of the utmost importance for all parties. Relationships of this nature built on distrust can often lead to subpar outcomes.

Consistent Pattern

            A predictable pattern of meetings usually supports both the coach and client’s needs best, particularly if behavior change is part of the mandate. Once the coaching meeting is understood as a standard part of the individual’s routine, real momentum can be generated. 

            It is important to reiterate that in most cases, there are not quick fixes. Setting clear expectations as to the client’s responsibilities for setting the session agenda and for completing assignments between sessions, and then holding the client accountable for upholding those commitments, will support accelerated progress towards individual and organizational goals.

Evaluate the Desired Outcomes

            If goals for the coaching work have been appropriately set at the outset of the engagement, it will be clear to the client when the coaching goals have been achieved. This may or may not be after the engagement period. 

            An experienced coach can accurately assess the scope and scale of the expected deliverable of the engagement against the time frame and estimate what, if any, changes should be made to ensure the work is contracted for success and the goals are achievable within the desired period.

            Do note that similarly to organizational reassessment and repurposes, coaching relations may undergo scope changes according to client, coach, and organizational needs.

    Agree to the next steps

                The final step in a successful engagement is a concluding meeting with the executive sponsor to confirm results and receive feedback on observable changes. 

                This is an excellent opportunity for the client to request support to ensure success moving forward. When properly conducted, the final meeting is also an ideal venue for the coach and sponsor to inquire as to further engagements, based on the success of the one just completed. 

                The successful client, coach and sponsor are not afraid to ask for more work or opportunities based on having just demonstrated success.

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