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Coaching for business

Helen Mayson

Coaching for business

ILM explains coaching in depth: how it works, who it works for and how it is different from other development tools

Coaching in business has the potential to transform individuals' performance and organisations' success. Coaching aims to develop an individual’s performance by unlocking their capabilities through guided conversation and questioning. Coaching enables managers to find business solutions using their own resources and as such it can be a powerful tool for organisational development.

Should my organisation use internal or external coaching?

External coaching is predominantly reserved for senior professionals, where there tends to be the budget to support it. This is partly because CEOs and Board Directors rarely have the time it takes to coach their direct reports, but also because of confidentiality.

A line manager has an employment relationship with an individual which could hamper the willingness of both parties to talk candidly and to take an objective look at the coachee's strengths and weaknesses of the coachee in relation to their role and organisation. External coaching, carried out by a specialist executive coach, is very different to coaching conducted internally. Because there is a different kind of relationship, external coaching allows for a different, possibly bigger conversation, and offers a broader perspective.

What are the challenges associated with choosing an external coach?

The rapid growth of the executive coaching movement means that there are thousands of practising coaches. But there is also a lack of regulation in the market - currently anyone can practice as a coach. We think this is potentially dangerous. Especially as we also perceive that there is a lack of consistency or benchmarking across organisations regarding the procurement of coaching services.

Employers need support identifying and selecting recognised and experienced coaches, and measuring the impact of their coaching spend. We would hope to see clear benchmarks for the selection of executive coaches. Qualifications and membership of a professional body are obvious benchmarks to look for. Organisations also need to be clear why they are using executive coaches – that this is not just another part of the executive package – pension, car ….and coach – for example.

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