Engaging key stakeholders in the process of shaping the strategy and determining a set of measures for the Return on Investment will result in a realistic, relevant and manageable framework. A clear structure for the use of coaching in the organisation will ensure that spending is targeted where the return to the organisation will be high.
It begins at the top: executives should actively support coaching and provide a strategic structure for it, HR should own it, providing the practical structure, making it business-like and normative, and line managers should be responsible for ensuring that the process is managed in the right way. To ensure the best outcomes, coaching should be integrated with overall HR leadership development and talent management processes, taking into account the culture, values and processes of the organisation. It needs to be actively managed to ensure consistency and quality.
Coaching should be aligned to business outcomes, with a requirement for specific and measurable results. All parties can realise value, including the individuals or teams being coached, their divisions, other stakeholders (such as colleagues and clients), and the organisation itself. This requires that executive coaches are contracted with the ability and experience to understand and support the systemic perspective without compromising the experience for the individual being coached.
My research revealed that most South African organisations do not realise the broader benefits coaching can deliver, particularly where it can be used to inform organisational learning. This may be indicative of the relative immaturity of coaching itself as an emerging and still unregulated profession. It may also speak to a lack of development in HR processes generally, particularly as HR is itself a newly-recognised profession in South Africa. However, as the use of coaching increases, HR contractors of coaching are becoming more knowledgeable. They will focus on extracting this additional value as their expectations become aligned with international standards.
Barbara Walsh is an executive coach and coaching consultant with Metaco, www.metaco.co.za. She has an MSc in Coaching and Behavioural Change, and is an accredited Neuro-Semantics Meta-Coach and Coach Trainer.