Introduction to Organizational Coaching

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Introduction to Organizational Coaching

Organizational coaching aims at fostering positive, systemic transformation within organizations. It is frequently used to help organizations achieve strategic objectives, enhance leadership capability, and create culture change. Broader organizational needs are placed front and center, and the coaching is used to scale-up change across the enterprise. While there is overlap, this broader focus is in contrast to executive or leadership coaching which targets the individual’s development needs and more typically comprises standalone engagements.

Develop a best-in-class internal coaching practice

By definition, organizational coaching depends on a cadre of coaches, also called a coaching panel. Exceptional coaching panels are those that are thoughtfully assembled with these questions answered:

  1. What standards? What is the standard that we require from our coaches (e.g. an advanced degree in psychology or human change, coach certification)?
  2. What diagnostics? Will we use diagnostics or psychometrics? If yes, which ones, and are the coaches accredited in these?
  3. What expertise? Coaches have their own specific interests and expertise. These range, for example, from increasing emotional, leadership, sales, or specific business skills or bringing personal experience in a particular domain (e.g. ex-CEO). What expertise coverage is needed from the panel?
  4. Where sourced? Will we be using the services of an external coaching organization that can provide multiple coaches, external individual coaches sourced through referral and reputation, or internal coaches? Note, there are pros and cons to each approach, some of which are listed below:
    1. External coaching organizations: Offers ease in logistics. However, many outstanding coaches do not offer their services through coaching organizations, preferring instead to remain independent.
    2. External individual providers: More complicated logistics but the opportunity to work with outstanding providers who do not contract through third-party coaching organizations.
    3. Internal coaches: Cost-effective approach and coaches bringing good knowledge of the organization. May face resistance from senior executives who question impartiality and have concerns about confidentiality; can be entrenched in the same system they are trying to change.

For these reasons, many organizations use a combined approach, ensuring that each and every coach is handpicked and a good fit for the organization and the person being coached.

  1. Is the coaching having an impact? Organizations with exceptional coaching panels use post-coaching assessments to find out whether the coaching has been effective and to decide whether to retain the coach for future engagements. They also integrate a supervision process. [Link to resource/reference if we are permitted][1]
  2. What matching process will be used?  Regardless of what a coach looks like “on paper”, much of the success of the coaching intervention will depend on the relationship, trust and rapport between the coach and client. One way to manage the matching process is to suggest three alternative coaches (based on knowledge of the coach and the client’s need) and to enable the client to speak with and select from these.
  3. How will we ensure that a systemic intervention is taking place? Given the aim of systemic transformation it is important plan for how the community of coaches on the panel will hear about and be able to work with an understanding of the broader organizational context and priorities.  Effective options can include CEO/executive briefings to coaches on key organizational challenges and strategies, or opportunities to share themes on organizational issues (e.g. lack of flexibility hindering employee engagement), while maintaining client confidentiality.

Augment leadership development programs with coaching

The coaching panels described above can be integrated into leadership development programs with the purpose of targeting specific leadership specific capabilities (e.g. authenticity, teaming, collaboration, innovation).  Research shows that coaching as a complement to leadership development training enhances outcomes. [Reference/resrouce] This type of coaching can be integrated at various stages of the leadership program:

  • Before: to prepare leaders’ thinking and readiness for the leadership development work.
  • During: to work through leadership questions and challenges that have arisen during the structured program.
  • After: to enhance post-program learning and change, and/or to coach groups of participants to meet specific objectives e.g. experiential goals via action learning projects.  



[1]Michel Moral, A French model of supervision: supervising a ‘several to several’ coaching journey. In Coaching and Mentoring Supervision Theory and Practice. By Tatiana Bachkirova. (In press).

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