Making the successful ‘match’ between coach and coachee as well as coach to business is imperative to the success of a coaching assignment and by getting this right, HR professionals will have the foundations in place for a coaching programme that is right on track to deliver its objectives.
Choosing the right fit
Businesses can sometimes embark on a coaching programme where the waters around objectives and the evaluation process are muddied, making it near on impossible for HR to measure success and report this back when they are inevitably asked to quantify results.
Although it may appear to be common sense, in order to get the best results from any coaching assignment, the building blocks upon which the project will stand must be in place and for coaching these blocks are credibility, capability and chemistry.
To measure these areas successfully, HR must first work up the coach equivalent of a job specification to clearly outline the experience and criteria that the most appropriate coaches would be able to demonstrate. This is all part of the information and intelligence gathering process and the outcomes of this must be referred to throughout the process to help decide which coaches are right for the assignment and company.
There is a risk however, of exercising too much caution in the selection process. This should be considered carefully as it is commonplace for coaches to regularly go through rigourous assessment processes which largely end up with them not being selected. Striking a balance between effective selection without unnecessary layers of questioning will deliver time saving benefits for both parties - particularly as it has been shown that there is a 90% failure rate in coach selection which is likely in many cases to be down to ‘extreme assessment’ tactics. (Figures from Acuity Coaching research ‘Maximising performance and reducing the cost of Executive Coaching’, April 2008)
The Oracle and Acuity Coaching Project
One of the challenges that the HR industry continues to face is a lack of access and insight into the progress of coaching assignments making it difficult to review if and how objectives are being met and how they are delivering against budget.
Adding this to the other issues that HR professionals commonly face when sourcing, managing and delivering coaching programmes, Acuity Coaching developed a ‘managed coaching solution’ created to specifically address industry needs. This has been designed to be transparent allowing coaches and HR professionals to plug into a system that provides easy access to assignments in progress so their status and delivery against objectives can be reviewed whenever needed and as assignments come to an end.
This helps projects stay on track and allows aims and objectives to be shifted as and when they need to in line with the coachees or company’s needs – it also allows for an effective end of assignment review process. Less than 40% of organizations review coaching assignments once completed leaving them with no clear idea of what has been achieved. (Figures from Acuity Coaching research ‘Maximising performance and reducing the cost of Executive Coaching’, April 2008)
Oracle, the world's most complete, open, and integrated business software and hardware systems provider, is working with Acuity Coaching on an ongoing coaching programme for its senior EMEA managers. The aim was to have coaches sourced for its senior managers operating in 44 countries throughout EMEA that could deliver at a consistent standard under an ‘umbrella’ system that could be easily monitored allowing HR to check the status of multiple assignments at any one time.
It was also important for Oracle that this consistent approach extended to cost – research has found that Executive Coaching rates are actually 40% higher when HR are not involved and that 75% of organizations paid coaches what they asked for - resulting in huge variations in pricing. (Figures from Acuity Coaching research ‘Maximising performance and reducing the cost of Executive Coaching’, April 2008)
Prior to this project, Oracle had almost 40 coaches already in place who were reviewed as part of the refreshed coaching programme alongside brand new coaches as selected by Acuity from its bank of 1,500 coaches globally. Both incumbent and new coaches were appraised taking into account credibility, capability and chemistry.
The selection process began with Acuity evaluating all coaches against a set of standard gate criteria which looks at past experience, training and practical issues like insurance. Following this, Oracle and Acuity ran a selection event giving Oracle the opportunity to meet in person the coaches who had been initially selected to work with them. As these interviews were taking place across EMEA, Oracle representatives in each country met with the coaches in each respective place.
For Acuity, it was also important to look at the coaches in relation to Oracle’s culture – another key consideration for HR professionals to take into account. By the nature of its business, Oracle is a fast-paced and dynamic organization and so the coaches selected to work with its senior team had to reflect the values of the company. This is where the importance of credibility stands up as coaches need to understand a company’s culture to help them fully grasp the wider challenges an individual within that business may be facing and then provide relevant and realistic solutions to them.
The value of the basics
Overall there were 60 coaches selected to go forward and deliver the Oracle coaching programme from a total of around 120 who were considered and to date, the coaching programme has been a success.
HR professionals should not underestimate the importance of getting the basics right when looking for a coach – the framework of a detailed person specification and clear objectives are essential. This, together with an uncluttered selection process, alignment with company values and culture, and chemistry meetings between the organization and coach should stand HR in good stead for an effective coaching programme that delivers results.