Creating a Strong Internal Coaching Provision (Part 2)

Group coaching skills workshop

The intention of this blog post — the second in a three-part series on internal coaching — is to support our clients with evolving and maintaining a successful internal coaching provision.

In this post, we will look at the 5 key ingredients for developing internal coaches. Part 1, which focused on establishing an internal coaching provision, can be read here.

Part 3 (coming soon) will explore running coaching programmes and managing/developing your internal coaching pool.

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, many of these ingredients are offered as questions for you to reflect upon and consider with your organisation in mind.

Key ingredients for establishing your internal coaching pool

1. Be clear on the purpose of having internal coaches

With this clear purpose it means internal coaches are informed from the start how they will be utilised within the company. The training can be tailored to ensure they are developed to support the target population of coachees and during the training they can begin to support them, e.g., internal coaches supporting maternity returners.

You can read more about the purpose of having internal coaches here.

2.   Develop criteria for your internal coaching pool

  • Who will the coaches be supporting?
  • What coaches do you need so the internal pool has credibility?
  • What commitment do you need from your internal coaches?

Once you are clear on the purpose of internal coaching, you will have a sense of the coaching clients your internal coaching pool will be working with and on what types of agenda.

This will give you an indication of the types of coaches you will need in your pool who will have credibility and potential impact with these groups.  It’s worth considering where in your organisation you may want to develop your coaches from.

The HR / L&D functions are obvious places and for some organisations this works — for others, culturally, you may find that bringing people in from the business to operate in your internal coaching pool will bring more diversity and have the added benefit of embedding coaching skills into the business.

There is no ‘right’ answer, but a couple of additional considerations are:

  • Will people who meet your criteria have the time to commit to the role and training / CPD
  • Will their ‘main’ roles in the business enable them to create a safe confidential space for the coaching conversations.

3. Have a selection / recruitment process

  • How will you recruit into your coaching pool?
  • How will you ensure potential internal coaches understand the coaching pool requirements, so they are committed to the role and the training requirements?

Having some form of selection process for identifying internal coaches is something we recommend to our clients as without this the employees’ commitment beyond the initial training programme can waiver.

If becoming an internal coach is popular within your organisation, an application and potentially an interview process will ensure the coaches are fully engaged and their line manager is also supporting to them undertaking this additional responsibility along with their main role.

If you are in the position where you need to go out and raise interest and awareness of the role, still being clear on what the role involves and having 1:1 conversations with those potentially interested will enable you to see where their interest and commitment lies and if they are supported to undertake the role.

The selection process or individual conversations help ensure the coaches are clear of the ongoing needs of the organisation, what they need to commit to as well as ensuring they have the required characteristics to be an internal coach.

4.   Align the coach training and accreditation to be fit for purpose

  • What level of training do you require?
  • What professional coaching body do you wish to align with?

Deciding on the coach training that is appropriate for your needs can seem a minefield at first glance. There are a whole variety of coaching training programmes available, some accredited and some not, some for a few hours, some for up to a year.  Having a sense of the depth of training and the accreditation process that would sit with your organisations needs is the starting point to explore your options.

Always be mindful of what is fit for purpose, so you are not investing in programmes that are too time consuming or onerous in terms of commitments for your coaches to complete; equally a programme that is very light in terms of content and practice is unlikely to equip your coaches to hold quality conversations. As a guide, it would be unusual if very light programmes are accredited by EMCC Global or ICF.

An additional consideration is the professional coaching body to align with — some coach training accreditation is not with a professional coaching body yet is still valid training (e.g., ILM). Alignment as a company with a professional coaching body provides a structure and governance for coach professionalism, which in turn gives an internal coaching pool credibility and quality assurance. 

5. Have clarity on how you will provide your internal coaches with coaching clients (particularly through their training)

  • How will you provide your internal coaches with coachees?
  • Who will manage this process?

When employees are training as internal coaches, having coaching clients identified for them supports the training process and reduces the anxiety of finding suitable practice clients.

While coaches are undergoing their training, it is best practice that they disclose this in their contracting with their coachees, as they are likely to require some feedback from them.

On an ongoing basis, being clear how coachees are matched with your internal coaches is critical in allowing the use of the internal coaches to be purposeful and in line with the organisational purpose for them.  As a programme lead, you often have to rein in enthusiastic internal coaches who want to support people outside the areas the organisation requires. It’s a fine line to walk: keeping their enthusiasm while ensuring you point them in the right direction and provide them with coachees.

We hope the above questions and thoughts have sparked questions and thoughts for you.  As always, we would love to hear them and if you would like a conversation with us about your internal coach training needs, please let us know.

Part 3

The final instalment of this series of posts on internal coaching is now available — you can read part 3 here.

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