There are numerous reasons to engage an external coach to work with you, your managers and/or their teams. If it’s for themselves, some senior managers tell me they are looking for a safe place to think and talk about their planning horizons. They want to explore their work and career environment with someone who can help them lift their sights above the mundane and hold them accountable for their commitments.

If it’s for one or more of their management team, they may prefer to relate in a particular way and leave coaching to someone else. Sometimes it’s because they simply don’t have the time, patience or relevant skill-set to do it themselves. Or they suspect the individual would be more likely to “open–up” to a trusted outsider with whom they can set some agreed boundaries.

Quite often coaching is presented as a professional opportunity or bonus; an indicator of confidence, appreciation and respect.

Be clear about your expectations

What do the coach and coachee need to know about this opportunity? Now’s the time to be open and honest if you believe there are some performance hurdles to overcome, or some emerging opportunities you want your team to be ready for. Clear expectations underpin clear conversations about development goals and achievements.

Is coaching the right strategy?

If you want to introduce procedural change and get immediate results, you might want to think about a mixed approach; such as a training program that’s supported by regular coaching over time.

In this way you can build a framework for doing things differently and train people to deliver consistent results. For instance, when government policy and regulations change, or new targets are introduced, your people need to hear a consistent message about what has to change, for whom, how and when.

Leadership and/or team coaching can then support behaviour change over time by challenging unhelpful ways of working and communicating and building on observable strengths. Teams achieve results by understanding when to work alone and how to work together.

What’s the hurry?

Be real about the timeframe. Whatever approach you choose, be clear about when the preferred strategy begins and ends. Talk it through with both the coach and coachee – get their views and their agreement on these and other related issues.

Success is easier to find when we know what we’re looking for!