An Executive Coach Answers 10 Key Questions a Federal Decision Maker Should Ask before using Executive and Management Coaching
1. Why do Agencies use a coach?
The most common reasons to use a coach are
- When a senior manager believes a manager or executive is having difficulty but it’s worth trying to get the person back on track.
- When a particular managerial skill set needs improvement.
- When a recent event or series of events have undermined confidence in a manager’s ability to work through problems on his or her own.
2. How do you tell whether someone is a good candidate for coaching
- The person has demonstrated good basic skills in the past.
- Some recognition exists with the person that problems exist.
- The problems faced are limited in nature.
3. What kinds of issues can a coach help with?
- Coaching is most successful when addressing process rather than product issues. The traditional planning, organizing, directing, staffing, coordinating, evaluating and negotiating skill sets are prime areas for coaching. Management style and people relations are also good coaching subjects.
4. Which is more effective: mentoring or coaching?
- These are two very different processes. A mentor is usually an insider familiar with Agency processes. Some agencies are reluctant to provide mentors at supervisory levels and up particularly in resolving problems because of concerns that mentoring may lead to potential allegations of grooming or favoritism.
5. How does coaching work?
- Frequently a coach will help the executive or manager:
o Develop a plan to address issues.
o Work through a problem identification process.
o Work with the person to help gain objectively or overcome blind spots.
o Work on specific skill sets.
6. Who makes a good coach?
- Key skills include objectivity, the ability to build a person’s confidence in and respect for the coaching process, and practical problem solving and strong communication skills.
- People working with a coach frequently say they’re glad they didn’t know the coach prior to the process.
- Most senior managers I’ve worked with say they prefer someone outside the organization.
7. What charter should the Agency give a coach?
- It is most helpful if agency managers:
o Define the issues they want addressed.
o Identify the behavior they find problematic.
o Spell out specific changes they consider optimal
8. Who does the coach work for?
- The coach works for senior management. It is vital, however that the coach not be seen as a simple conduit for information reporting. To be really effective, the coach must build a relationship with the manager being coached that inspires honesty and trust.
9. How do you know when coaching is done?
- Generally, coaching results in an action plan that senior management reviews and approves. As with any good plan, goals and milestones that are realistic and attainable are a key component. The coach will usually stay on the project until senior management has regained a measure of confidence in the person or decides that a more formal approach is necessary.
10. Where can I find a coach?
- Some Federal Agencies have coaching programs and offer coaches to others. Coaches are also available by contract. Always ask for references and check them.