When I had an idea about a post I wanted to write about what executive coaches want from their HR partners, I thought it would be interesting to get a view from a seasoned HR pro on what HR wants from the executive coaches they contract with.
Dan McCarthy is just that guy. He works at a Fortune 500 company as the Manager of Leadership and Management Development, writes the well respected Great Leadership blog and has become a blogging friend. We are co-posting our different views at the same time, so be sure and stop over at his site too for his, What HR Wants From an Executive Coach. We`d love for this to be a conversation, so please leave comments at either or both sites.
1. Hire the best coaches you can find.
Before you contract with a coach, ask for references, business experience, training, credentials, the ethical and confidentiality code they follow, and anything else that is important to you and your organization. Coaching requires a process and a communication skill set that is different from consulting, therapy, and other helping professions. There are low barriers to entering into the profession and coaches who`ve worked hard to get experience and build a reputation appreciate the time and effort you put in to make sure you contract with top-notch coaches. Your due diligence in hiring the best will reflect well on our profession.
2. Understand that you get what you pay for; don`t attempt to choke an experienced coach on their fees.
Experienced coaches cost more. It may well be worth it, as you are paying for their experience (including years as an executive, training, and years of coaching execs in similar situations) which can actually save you money through the results they can help your executives achieve. And don`t expect a coach to be in and out of a coaching engagement in one or two meetings! It can take months for an individual being coached to make sustainable change. An experienced coach should be able to work with the client to make changes in the least amount of time necessary, possibly saving you money on the length of the engagement.
3. Discuss your role in the coaching engagement with the coach before it begins.
Some HR professionals will want to keep in touch with the coach as the process rolls out. Others may prefer to take a back seat. Having full agreement ahead of time will prevent misunderstandings. Collaborate with the coach if you are the process owner, and trust that they know what they are doing from their experience. Most coaches will appreciate your involvement and collaboration in the process.
4. Don`t ask a coach to work with someone you are going to fire anyway.
We don`t want to work with your worst so that you can make the case that you`ve tried everything. This would be akin to throwing money away, and it`s not fun for us to work with these people; in fact, the best coaches will refuse such a gig. It`s better to save the money for the recruiting fees you`ll need to spend for this individual`s replacement or for someone who has great potential to move up in your organization.
5. Hire a coach for motivated executives.
Executives and high potentials who need polish, need to achieve a professional goal, and who are motivated to work with a coach are the best candidates. Never make working with a coach a condition of employment or promotion; they must want to work with a coach without feeling coerced.
6. Ask the person being coached how the experience is going.
Stay on top of things. Ask the executive if they are getting value from the experience of being coached. Find a way to ask the coach to make adjustments, if necessary, based on what you heard. If there are problems, let the coach know. This will help to serve the executive and your organization best. And the coach wants to be successful too, so your interest and suggestions will create a partnership that can only work for their betterment too.
7. Don`t expect the executive coach to divulge confidential information or opinions about the client(s) they are coaching.
General information, such as where they are at in the process, can be requested. But questions such as “are they making their goals?” or specific details discussed in meetings with the client should not be requested. The executive coach should be following a code ethics requiring confidentiality and will not answer these questions. Better to ask the client or the client`s manager about specifics.
8. Don`t blame the coach if the executive being coached leaves your company.
It is not unusual for an executive to leave their company after being coached. They may have had some new insights while being coached and may find that they just aren`t the right fit for your company. This is not the coach`s fault ?€“ it is an occasional outcome of the coaching process and a decision made by the executive.
Coaches: What else do you want from HR? HR: What do you want from coaches? Add your thoughts to the Great Leadership post, too!