Stay In The Game

An executive coach can help you develop a winning strategy to take your career to new heights. Here's how to net the best one for you.

of Professional Coaching and Training Inc. in Edison, New Jersey.

Probably the latest trend in the business coaching movement has been to get more formalized support from corporations. Harold Compere, vice president and retail management coach at Chase Bank in New York City, notes that his company is very proactive regarding coaching. “It’s provided to all sales representatives and relationship managers as a part of staff development. It’s intended to ‘Build a Team of Champions’,” he says. Watson posits that corporations’ growing adoption of the coaching process may be directly responsible for its booming growth. The number of executive coaches has risen from 315 in 1977, to 970 in 1998, to about 2,400 in 1999, and the ICF expects that number to increase.

If a company hires a consultant to coach an individual, the process has four fundamental dimensions. It starts with setting the criteria for success in the context of the organization. This requires understanding the cultural and political context in which the coaching is to take place as well as understanding the performance imperatives desired. The second step assesses the individual against the success criteria of the organization to gain insights into what development is needed. This process may be
facilitated through the use of a feedback tool called a “360-degree assessment,” which looks for feedback and observation of performance from peers, superiors and staff. Sometimes even spouses are requested to give feedback.

In some instances, coaches may shadow an executive for a day to observe the individual’s management style. The third step maps out an action plan to meet those developmental needs, while the last step launches the action plan along with follow-up procedures.

Usually this kind of coaching is paid for by the corporation and can be expensive. Remember, the primary client is the person or corporation paying the coach. Private fees range from $100 to $450 monthly or may be based on a percentage of the annual compensation of the employee when paid for by the corporation. In the ICF study, 98.5% of clients said their investment in an executive coach was well worth the money.

If the organization is footing the bill, it’s important to establish a clear expectation of goals and what information the coach will pass back to the corporate client. These kinds of coaching arrangements are usually made for senior executives, many of whom are uncomfortable with this kind of coaching relationship. They feel they are expected to “have all the answers” and often feel uncomfortable sharing vulnerabilities, which may not be kept confidential. If they did not request a coach, they may see it as an indication that senior management is unhappy with some aspect of their performance, which is sometimes true.

Can you refuse to participate in a coaching relationship? It’s probably not in your best interest to do so. You may be viewed as not being a team player or not motivated enough to seek continuous improvement of your skills.

Just as there must be clearly established goals and guidelines to

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