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Leadership Talk
In this short article I would like to describe to you my concept of In – Company Coaching and in what circumstances it can be used.
So what is In – Company Coaching? Well as always the description will mean different things to different people.

There are specific benefits surrounding In – Company Coaching:

• Individual training needs can be identified clearly and in more detail.
• The needs can be prioritised by the individual and the company.
• It’s a more cost effective method of training if the needs of individuals are diverse.
• Often the real cause of poor performance is hidden or disguised and success is more likely when using a coaching approach.
• Evidence based (what changes have there been in relation to the goals set within the coaching?) follow-up helps to establish the end result benefits.

Although the ‘In – Company Coaching’ approach can prove to be very successful the key to the process is the ability and knowledge of the coach. The coach will need solid coaching skills through a range from non-directive to highly directive almost a mentoring style. Then once the diagnosis has taken place the coach will require a range of comprehensive knowledge and skill in areas such as leadership, time management, assertiveness and many others. In more specialist areas such as finance, occupational health etc. if the coach doesn’t have this knowledge he or she should be able to identify the most appropriate resources to help the individual.

The ‘In – Company Coaching’ should have structure and process with all parties being clear about the desired outcomes. The parties involved could be different from client to client however the two constants will always be the participant (the person being coached) and the coach. I would always encourage the participant’s line manager to be an interested party as the identification of any need should have been raised as part of the appraisal or review process. This isn’t to say that everyone should wait until the six monthly or annual meeting but actions should be recorded within that process.
The ‘In Company Coaching’ also has a place during times of hardship for example if individuals are losing jobs owing to redundancy. When individuals are faced with this situation they often can’t think straight and lose sight of their strengths and abilities. As part of the redundancy process a company would give great help to employees by giving them access to ‘In Company Coaching’ so that they can explore their future options in a supportive environment. You often hear of people who have lost jobs only to go on and find a way of earning a living that is far more interesting and challenging.

As an example of the way coaching can work where other interventions struggle, early in 2009 I was contacted by the HR manager of a client within manufacturing. She was keen to promote Peter a long established employee to team leader as he had a lot of knowledge and ability. However, other managers were not keen on this idea as they felt he didn’t listen to other people and although he had attended a 2 day management course which included listening skills no improvement had been noticed. I had a telephone meeting with Peter’s line manager to establish the circumstances under which Peter displayed the non-listening behaviour. From this discussion I was told that when Peter became very interested or excited about the topic being discussed that was when he lost concentration on the other person.

I had two coaching sessions with Peter which were about an hour each in duration. With permission of the client at the start of the first one I explained to Peter that these sessions had been arranged as a follow up to the management course that he had attended. We talked about the course and he said that he had enjoyed it and that he had found the time management section useful and he interacted normally with me. We then moved on to talk about the job and I asked him what he enjoyed about the job he did. He started to talk about a new product range that had recently been launched and he became very detailed in his description of the technical data and was obviously very enthusiastic about it all. I let Peter talk, well I had no choice really I couldn’t get a word in! I tried on a couple of occasions to tell him that I had something really important to tell him…. but still no response. We came to the end of the session and I told Peter that I had something important to tell him but it would have to wait until next time. He said that he could continue for a short time I said that unfortunately I couldn’t and the meeting ended. A week past and Peter and I met again, the first thing he asked me was ‘what was the important matter that you wanted to tell me about?’ I said ‘Oh just that I didn’t understand cubic square metres’ (part of the technical specification Peter had described to me at the last session) I then went on to explain that I had tried to ask him a number of times during our previous session but he didn’t listen to me …………..he got the message and we moved on from there.