Coaching has hit the mainstream. It’s showing up in sitcoms, Fast magazine, and well, blogs like this one. Increasingly, organizations are figuring out how to develop a strategy to provide coaching as a service offering to employees. No longer is the debate whether to offer coaching at all, rather it is a debate on when to use an external coaching provider versus internal practitioners. In this blog, I offer three reasons why an organization should consider using internal coaches and four reasons an organization should consider using external coaches.
The case for internal coaching
Financial constraints – Coaching can be expensive. A typical coaching relationship can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 or more Having an internal staff of coaches can increase access to coaching for everyone in the organization.
Organizational integration – Understanding the internal culture and the political landscape can be critical. The Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology suggests that internal coaches have faster access to information about the strengths and values of an organization.
Consistency in process and methodology – As a profession, we’ve made great strides, however there is no guarantee of competence. Anyone can add “coach” to their business card. Although one methodology monitoring coaches from many companies can be more challenging.
Three reasons to use external coaches
Confidentiality and the client’s agenda – Successful coaching is grounded in these concepts. A slip up in one of these areas can tank a coaching program. Even when it is absolutely, never, ever going to happen, the perception of the possibility reduces the ability of the person being coached to be honest and open.
Overcoming cultural blindness – An external coach, by definition, is not part of the organization. Social psychology theory shows that people who work or live together are influenced by each other towards conformity. An external coach sees things through a different lens, not a lens of conformity.
Avoiding accountability and role clarification Issues – Role clarification and boundaries around information management become more challenging with internal coaching. Since the external coach has one role, that of supporting and guiding the person being coached, accountability and role clarification are not at issue.
Executive needs – How realistic is it to expect an executive to bare his soul, admit to imperfection, acknowledge the desire to continue developing or expose his deepest feelings to someone who is part of his organization? Can it be done? With an external coach this is never an issue.
Regardless of the decision an organization makes regarding internal or external coaching, or both, the method works. People are fundamentally changed by engaging in meaningful conversations with a coach who creates an environment of trust and learning.