During my many coaching engagements, I have come to realize that the senior leadership of a company can make the difference between a highly successful coaching program and one that is just a waste of resources. Shrewd corporate Chairmen and CEOs recognize that coaching can be a very valuable tool for the personal and professional leadership development of their key employees. They will often provide an annual coaching budget within their corporate financial plan.
Corporate managers correctly believe that having their key employees work with professional coaches will improve their performance, their loyalty to the company and increase their value to the company. I regularly see these benefits to clients and their company. In fact, I have seen companies pull ahead of their competition because they have invested in coaching for their key employees. A highly productive team is the best competitive advantage.
For most companies, including coaching within their annual budget ensures that their employees grow to become more productive. The result is very often a tremendous return on the investment for funds spent on coaching. However, the expenditure of funds is not enough. As any good Executive Coach will tell you, it takes a lot more than budgeting to ensure an excellent return on the money and time invested.
Chairmen and CEOs need to work closely with the coaches and themselves contribute to the personal growth and leadership development of their Executives. Management can increase their return on investment.
- Chairmen and CEOs should always aim to make sure that the coaching has a direct impact on the needs of their company. Some companies use coaching as a benefit for their best performers. This approach can motivate some Executives but there are better ways to invest in recognition of excellence. When it comes to coaching, having a plan that ties the needed skills to the strategic plan for the company is a much better approach. An Executive Leadership Coach will always make sure that the participating Executive understands the importance of the skills being developed and how they tie into the best interests of the company.
- Always invest in the best coaching possible. While this is not the only success factor, look at testimonials and check references to determine that the coach and coaching will focus on the important skills and will be able to develop those skills in an effective way. Usually this means the executive coaching services in smaller groups or on an individual basis with more interaction and practice time and will therefore cost more. It means matching the coach and their experience to the needs – and the skills to be developed. In executive coaching, as in most other things in life, you get what you pay for. In coaching, bad coaches tend to cost only slightly less than very good ones. A little bit more expense will often yield a great deal more in results.
- In all my engagements, I suggest that members of corporate management sit down with the Executive and discuss why coaching is being made available and what the principal objectives of the engagement are. Management should be deeply involved and strongly committed to coaching programs – otherwise results will suffer.
- I always organize a follow-up meeting – preferably, no more than a few days after the coaching program has ended. During this meeting, I discuss with the Executive what it is that they took away from the coaching. I require that at least one level of upper management be present during this meeting.
The best way to boost any coaching investment is to support the effort broadly within the company and from the highest levels of management. The investment is time, thought and energy – both from the client and the senior management of the company. These investments are high-yield activities that will transform result in substantially increased benefits to the company and the shareholders.
© Dr. Earl R. Smith II