Why have internal coaches?

This is potentially quite a provocative question — particularly if you are passionate about coaching and keen to set up an internal coaching team within your organisation. 

We’d like to reflect on two questions to guide our thinking in this area: 

1.  What part do you see professional 1:1 coaching playing in your organisation?
2. And based on that, where would trained internal coaches add most value?

There are a number of potential drivers for investing in professional 1:1 coaching. These tend to fall into three categories (and sometimes all three at once):

  • An enabler to achieve an organisational vision. E.g. developing inclusive leaders or embedding a change programme. Using 1:1 coaching to support individuals as they play their part in the vision.
  • A solution to an organisational problem. E.g. supporting maternity returners so retention rates rise and their return to work experience is smoother or to reduce the ‘organ rejection’ of senior leaders coming into the organisation, again 1:1 coaching is one way to help with these challenges.
  • More systemically, if an organisation is seeking to develop or embed a coaching culture, one strand is undoubtedly enabling people to experience 1:1 coaching. This is, though, just one strand and not the whole strategy. Embedding a coaching culture involves multiple strategies to achieve the ultimate aim of ‘coaching style conversations are the norm around here.’ 

Now let’s consider, why build your own cadre of trained internal coaches rather than buying this capability in Here, considerations include:

  • Creating a ripple effect of coaching behaviours within the organisation. Trained coaches do not just use their coaching skills when in 1:1 sessions, they use them to in their day-jobs which has impact on those engaging with them.
  • Creating a sustainable source for professional coaching that can be deployed where the needs are greatest. 
  • Recognising the value of having trained coaches who are familiar with the organisation and understand the nuances.
  • Potential cost saving by bringing this resource in-house.  Particularly in tough economic times, the cost of external coaches is often one that organisations seek to reduce, and this can be the catalyst for developing internal resources to meet the coaching needs. 

(The internal vs external coach question is a whole other debate, but our view on this tends to be that a blended approach works best.)

Our experience shows that unless you are clear on both why you want to use 1:1 coaching, and why you want to develop your own internal coaches, the success and sustainability of any coaching provision is fragile and dependent on luck rather than design.

In our work supporting internal coaching leaders we are often approached to train internal coaches. Our first line of inquiry will always be – for what purpose?  

These are some of our thoughts, we would love to hear yours.

You can learn more about Catalyst 14’s internal coach training services here.