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Fourth, internal coaches are more likely to be challenged by confidentiality issues. Internal coaches may have multiple roles in the organization. This could be confusing to clients. Organizations must decide in advance how those challenges will be handled and provide opportunities to discuss especially complex or pressured situations. Some of the answers to confidentiality issues reside in how internal coaching programs involve the client’s boss and how those programs are “advertised” internally. In addition, an internal master coach or peer coach support group may be important in sorting through challenges to confidentiality. Dealing with this issue has to be somewhat “over-engineered” for internal coaching to take hold and grow.
How Do You Select a Coach? 39
A final topic of possible interest here has to do with having multiple clients in the same organization. This is always true for internal coaches, but can also be true for external coaches who have been working around the company for a while. There are benefits as well as challenges associated with this issue. “Discretion” is the important point. Each client deserves to be treated as an individual, without having to worry about intentional or accidental disclosures. In theory, there should not have to be a problem here, and there seldom is.
External and Internal Coaching Can Co-Exist
External coaching and internal coaching should be viewed as complementing each other, rather than competing with each other. An organization may benefit from using a combination of external coaches and internal coaches. As a knowledgeable HR professional, you can benefit from having a pool of coaches from which you can draw when client requests come in. For example, external coaches may be more appropriate for clients who are more senior and at high levels in the organization. Some clients who are resistant to change or tend to be very defensive may be more open to working with someone from outside the organization. In these situations, issues of coach credibility and confidentiality will be critical. As one HR professional in a health care maintenance organization stated: “Using an external coach promotes a great way of learning. The advantage of using an external coach is that the client does not have to be concerned about letting down his or her guard, as he or she would be with an internal coach. There is no suspicion of an ulterior motive with an external coach, so it is easier for the client to focus on the learning. For the HR professional, there is no need to worry as much about crossing boundaries and a fear of sharing secrets with others in the organization.”
Alternatively, if you have several high-potential clients who are still at relatively early career stages, then internal coaches may be advantageous to use. The internal coaches are more likely to
40 Executive Coaching
have access to performance appraisals, multi-rater feedback surveys, and direct observations of the clients. They can build these observations back into the coaching.
In short, there will be some clients for whom internal coaches are very appropriate, and others for whom external coaches will be a better match. You may want to be able to provide the organization with the flexibility to serve all client situations as they arise.
In this chapter, you have been given some guidelines for finding and selecting a coach. You have gained an understanding of the relative importance of the coach’s training, education, experience, and skills. The benefits and challenges for both internal and external coaches have been discussed. You have also had the chance to increase your insight on some things to avoid in a coach.
The next chapter delineates the logical progression of the steps in the coaching process: contracting with the coach, setting goals, assessment, implementation and action planning, and evaluation. You will learn about the importance of having a good structure for the coaching assignment and the elements of a good contract. The value of different forms of assessment data and of using multi-rater feedback in coaching will be discussed. Common elements that may occur during implementation and action planning are described. The rationale for the evaluation of coaching and some sources of data that may be used in evaluation are provided. Finally, the greater use of electronic coaching is considered as a future trend.
What Are the Steps in the Coaching Process?
oaching relationships are custom-designed, not replicated from
a manual the coach keeps on a shelf or that the HR department asks external coaches to obey. However, a large percentage of coaching assignments do follow a general format, which is what we will outline in this chapter. If you feel your situation falls outside of the usual pattern for coaching assignments, you will need to contract for a variation on the traditional relationship so you develop a process that makes sense for you and your company. In this chapter we will also address the way coaches and clients can use technology to aid in their relationship.