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2. Connect coaching to other development efforts. If your organization has a program for executive or management education, you may want to determine how coaching may be used to reinforce the lessons learned from the more formal classroom setting. How does the coaching reinforce lessons learned in training? How can the coaching be used to enhance on-the-job experiences?
3. Develop a pool of coaches. Where does an HR person go to find good coaches? There is no national registry. Through experience and networking with HR colleagues, a list can be built. It is then up to you to create the process to select the right coach for the needs of your organization. What are the skills and abilities needed in a coach for your organization? For this client?
As one HR professional from a high-tech company puts it: “HR professionals need to make sure that they have someone who is capable as a coach, who has the interpersonal skills and recognizes the balance between the individual and the organization. You can’t use the same coach for all people. You need a few different coaches in your back pocket.”
4. Be an effective gatekeeper. Develop criteria for determining when coaching is needed. Coaching should not be used in situations where it is very unlikely to succeed. Non-successes will happen anyway, but situations that are loaded against the coach are just a waste of time, money, and reputations. What are the criteria to determine whether coaching is needed or not? Requests for coaching may come from anywhere in the organization. Your first task is to see whether it’s really a coaching situation (you may wish to refer to the material on “When Coaching Is Appropriate” in Chapter 2). Sometimes saying “no” will be tough on your relationships with others, but it has to be done. There also will be times when you should be the one to initiate a discussion about bringing in a coach with either the client or with the client’s boss. Sometimes the gatekeeper needs to open a door that others didn’t even think was available.
5. Monitor the PR. In the course of your other activities, keep alert to what’s being said about coaching. Is it seen as a valued, positive alternative? We all know that some coaching assignments begin because there’s a “problem” or an “issue”
What Is the Role of the HR Professional?
causing concern. Other assignments are entirely focused on helping bring out the potential in talented people. We also know that coaching can be more successful in some cases than in others. Your task is to know what the buzz is regarding this service and, if possible, do something to move it in the right direction. What can you do to help the organization realize the value of coaching as a methodology?
6. Support the executive as being the client. Coaching involves multiple stakeholders, including yourself, each having a claim to the title of “client.” You can provide a service to everyone if you can make it clear that the individual executive is the primary client. We believe that coaching flows most naturally and most effectively when the individual executive is viewed as the client. We recognize, however, that other legitimate stakeholders are the organization, the boss, and you, the HR professional. How can you help the other stakeholders understand that the executive is the primary client?
7. Provide an orientation to the organization for the coach. In order for a coach to help the client set appropriate goals, it is important that the coach understand the structure of the organization and the strategic plans that guide the client’s performance. If the coach can have the benefit of obtaining information from an insider’s perspective, there is a greater likelihood that the coaching will be effective because the coach will have a context for assigning importance to some behaviors and not others. At a very basic level, the coach
is better equipped to guide the client toward behaviors that will be in greater alignment with the organization’s goals and strategies. How can you help the coach understand the organization’s strategic business plans and the role that the client plays in those plans? What are the key informal relationships about which the coach needs to know in order for the coaching to be effective?
Beyond organization charts and strategy statements lie the informal, subtle things that impact the client’s success. Some people call this “culture.” It has to do with “how we do things around here.” The coach needs to know—and eventually will learn—about dress codes, levels of formality, how influence is exercised, how decisions are made, and how people “win” in this organization.
In the words of one HR professional working for a large, Fortune 500 company: “Once the coaching engagement has begun, the HR professional cannot just walk away from the client issues. The client is not operating as a silo, but rather is operating as part of a system. That means that the organization needs to work on its systemic issues at the same time.