Creating a Strong Internal Coaching Provision (Part 3)

The intention of this post — the third in a three part series about internal coaching — is to support our clients with establishing, maintaining and evolving a successful internal coaching provision.

Part 1 focused on establishing internal coaching and Part 2 focused on developing internal coaches.

In this final instalment, we look at the key ingredients for managing an internal coaching provision.  

As always, we aim here to offer some key ‘ingredients’ based upon our experiences in supporting internal coach leaders to build effective internal coaching provisions. 

In true coach style, these ingredients are coupled with questions for you to reflect upon and consider with your organisation in mind.


1. Have clarity on the coaching programmes offered within the business

It can be tempting, when establishing internal coaching, to train your coaches and encourage them to build up ‘clients’ based on their networks or demand they come across in the business. Or to wait for employees to approach you to engage with an internal coach.

Both approaches can lead to an unstructured and unfocused coaching offering where it is hard to establish any ‘value add.’ In our experience, having ‘programmes’ for your formal coaching offers that clearly identify

  • the populations the programme is offered or targeted at (examples include D&I, role transition, high potential, maternity coaching)
  • the rationale for ‘why coaching’ at that point
  • how that programme will be delivered

will enable you to utilise coaching as a purposeful development intervention.

Key questions to explore:

  • What are the key programmes of coaching that the business will value?
  • How do you articulate your coaching offers?
  • How do you ensure your internal coaching pool is aware of how they will be deployed?

2 Where possible, bring in the line manager

This depends on how your coaching programmes are set up. 

If they are aimed at the individual for the individual, then it may not be appropriate to involve a coachee’s line manager. 

However, the majority of coaching programmes have a business aim at the heart of them. Be it enhancing performance, developing top talent, supporting individuals to transition well (i.e., moving quickly to high performance) into the organisation.

Accordingly, involving the line manager or sponsor ensures a clear link to the business objectives for the individual and brings the line manager or sponsor closer to the individual’s development journey so they can also support them. 

A 3-way meeting towards the start of the programme and some form of review and evaluation towards the end can bring real clarity and purpose to the coaching programme.

Key questions to explore:

  • How engaged are your line managers / sponsors with individual coaching programmes?
  • What would enable them to have a voice and enhance the support they provide?
  • If there is reluctance to involve line managers, where does this come from?
  • Have you developed your coaches to facilitate the 3 way conversations pre and post sessions?

Please see the below webinar for coaches on effective 3-way contracting conversations:

YouTube video

3 Have clear evaluation and feedback loops

We all know that the question of ROI for coaching is a tricky one, and often organisations approach this through the route of qualitative feedback. Being able to track how coaching is landing in your business is invaluable to being able to promote it as a positive and impactful development option. 

Most organisations do this via some form of online feedback for at the end of a coaching programme (in addition to the in-session checking in the coach will be doing) — and where there has been sponsor involvement there is an opportunity to gather feedback from them as well.

The 3 way goal setting and evaluation process is also a way of demonstrate ROI.

In addition to feedback, there can be a wealth of information that sits within the internal coaching pool with regard to the felt experience in the organisation. Finding forums in which to gather this intelligence (themed and non-attributable) is a way for the coaching function to support the system to learn.  As coaches have such valuable insights and hypothesis, ensuring there is a way for this to feed into the system is essential.

Key questions to explore:

  • How do you currently evaluate the impact of your coaching programmes? And…who do you share that with?
  • How do you provide feedback to your coaches?
  • What might your coaching pool know that the system would benefit from hearing?

4. Help your coachees get the most from coaching

We naturally focus time and energy in ensuring our internal coaches are ready and equipped to undertake the work to be done.  In a coaching relationship there are two parties and often we see less emphasis placed on supporting the coachee to be ready for coaching. This can lead to some bumpy first meetings for your internal coaching pool.

Some organisations will have a resource centre with various guidance documents for coachees, sharing what coaching is (and is not), providing guidance on how to make the most of a coaching relationship. 

Some have moved to doing this digitally, with short videos to bring coaching to life for those new to being coachees. None of these support mechanisms replace the strong contracting your coaches will do as they enter into the coaching relationship, but they will warm up your potential coachees and help with their expectations of coaching. For more information on this, please read our blog post on preparing coachees for coaching.

Key questions to explore:

  • How do you support your coachees to be ‘informed’ coachees?
  • What more could you do to help them understand and appreciate the unique nature of a coaching relationship?
  • How do you prepare the coachee’s line manager so they are fully engaged and supporting their team member’s development?

5. Avoid death by chemistry meetings

This is an interesting topic as there are so many views on the value of chemistry meetings (yes, we do think they have value) and the number of chemistry meetings organisations encourage coachees to have.

In our experience, if you have coachees who are new to coaching, having multiple chemistry meetings can serve to confuse rather than support. They can also be demoralising for internal coaches who find themselves having lots of meetings — but limited opportunity to continue the work.

Its horses for courses. With experienced coachees, yes, you do want to give them choice. They are ‘informed buyers’. With inexperienced coachees, often the selection could be done by the coaching lead, with the caveat that the first meeting is just an initial meeting and if the fit doesn’t feel right, explore working with someone else.

Helping coachees to understand what they should look for in an initial meeting (or ‘chemistry meeting’) will help them know if the coach is right for them.

Key questions to explore:

  • What is your current process on chemistry meetings?
  • What value do you see this adding to your coachees?
  • What impact could this be having on your coaches?
  • What is the pragmatic solution for you?

6. Continue to develop and supervise your internal coaching pool

Ongoing CPD and supervision is critical to ensure your internal coaches are equipped and supported to undertake the role you are asking of them. It is also a way to create a community amongst your coaches as they are developing together. This can also enable your internal coaches meet the requirements of the professional coaching body, e.g. EMCC Global or ICF.

Supervision, as we all know, is the safe place for coaches to take their coaching dilemmas and an opportunity to deepen their practice and self-awareness. Often organisations offer group supervision for their internal coaches and bring in an external supervisor to support.

However, if coaches are undertaking significant amounts of coaching within the organisation you may want to consider offering them 1:1 supervision — they may have more to unpack and process. We would recommend that you are guided by the requirements of the professional coaching body, e.g. 1 supervision session per quarter (minimum requirement).

Some internal coaches may think that they only attend supervision when coaching; we always encourage our clients to fully brief the internal pool of coaches so they understand supervision is a great way to stay engaged with coaching (even if their practice has dropped due to work commitments).

Ongoing CPD helps your coachees to be current and continually enhancing their practice. Our experience shows that people who are interested in being coaches are interested in their development — and the CPD part of any internal coaching pool is something that engages them. Use the CPD to build additional skills, explore more advanced techniques or to refresh the basics; your pool will relish this.

Key questions to explore:

  • How do you ensure your coaches are ‘fit for practice’?
  • What professional coaching body is your internal coaching pool aligned with?
  • How do you provide their supervision?
  • Where next for your pool with their CPD, what would really light their fires?

We hope this final post in this series has served to prompt thoughts and questions for you about your internal coaching practice.  As always, we welcome thoughts, questions and observations and if you would like to have a conversation with us about your developing your practice or your internal coaches, please let us know.