One of the ways we provide value to our clients is by helping executives improve effectiveness through one-on-one coaching.
Change is constant in the life of an executive. New or increased responsibilities, unprecedented business conditions, and evolving career goals can impact the performance of new and veteran business leaders alike. We take a practical approach with individual executives to help them clarify individual strengths and development needs, enhance understanding of how their behavior impacts their as well as others' ability to perform, and determine improvement strategies vis-a-vis job demands, roles, and relationships. We know that each coaching assignment is unique to the individual. Our focus is on getting results for both individuals and organizations through a customized approach.
We have also learned that there are several ingredients that are essential to a successful coaching assignment. The first is understanding the context of the coaching assignment, it is important for us to get to know the organization's business environment, its focus, and its culture. We must also establish clarity around objectives for the assignment and expectations for change. We work to ensure that there is a commitment to change on the part of the individual, and a commitment to support the individual on the part of the organization. We make sure that the issues to be addressed are coachable, that they can best be addressed through one-on-one coaching, and that there is positive chemistry between the coach and the individual. It is critical that the coaching assignment be treated in a highly confidential manner. Before the assignment begins, we make sure that all interested parties' the individual as well as key stakeholders, understand both what and how information will be shared as the assignment continues.
We organize an executive coaching assignment in three phases. These phases are somewhat open-ended and iterative:
- Situation Assessment and Data Collection
- Setting Development Goals, and
- Coaching and Follow-up
Phase One: Situation Assessment and Data Collection
In initial meetings with the individual to be coached, the boss, and other key stakeholders, the coach works to clarify objectives, expected outcomes, and roles. Through this process, the individual begins to undertake a commitment to change, and the coach gains an in-depth understanding of the individual's role and key challenges.
Discussions are then held with the individual to determine his/her understanding of his/her strengths and areas for improvement or change. 360 degree feedback is typically used to develop a more complete picture of how the individual is perceived by others. We can conduct confidential interviews, use in-house assessment tools, and review relevant background available as part of the organization's human resource systems. Additionally, information may be collected and insights gained through self-assessment instruments, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or FIRO-B, to better understand how the individual's style and personality are related to effectiveness on the job.
Phase Two: Setting Development Goals
Upon completion of the assessments and interviews, the coach consolidates the information and discusses the findings with the individual. The coach helps the individual sort through and evaluate his/her feedback, clarify his/her strengths and weaknesses, and refine his/her personal development goals. The coach then assists the individual in creating a plan to achieve his/her goals. Once the plan is established, it is shared with the individual's boss. At this time, agreement among all parties is reached on key deliverables and how progress will be monitored.
The development plan's actions are tailored to each individual and vary with the person's role, level, job responsibilities, and current challenges. It is most important that the development plan be specific, focused, and realistic. Behaviors to be changed or modified must be well-defined, kept to a manageable number, and capable of being achieved and measured.
Phase Three: Coaching and Follow-up
Once the development plan is in place, the coach meets with the individual in one-on-one sessions over a period of from four to six months. The meetings typically last from one to three hours and are normally held more frequently at the beginning of the assignment. The objective of the meetings is to ensure that development goals are being achieved, and that emerging issues are being effectively dealt with. Coaching activities involve skill building, role plays, key event preparation, and debriefing real-life experiences. Progress against the plan is reviewed, and new challenges and methods for dealing with them are discussed.
In addition to face-to-face meetings, coaching is done by phone for impromptu and scheduled discussions related to specific situations, and to supplement in-person meetings. The coach is also available to meet with the individual's boss to help him/her understand how best to work with the individual. As an option, three-way meetings between the coach, individual and boss can be held to review results and to encourage continued progress. Another optional coaching activity is shadow consulting, which normally involves observing the individual in a work setting over a half-day to watch behavior in meetings with groups and in one-on-one situations.
As the assignment nears completion, the coach and individual discuss methods for him/her to "stay the course" and continue to improve after the coach's involvement. Additionally, resources inside the organization are identified to provide ongoing support to the individual. If desired, follow up evaluations, which include administering a second 360 degree feedback process, can be conducted approximately twelve months after the initial assessment.