Published: May 4, 2012
Jennifer Selby Long, Selby Group
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Is Now the Best Time or the Worst Time to Invest in Executive Coaching?

Executive coaching is a one-on-one process dedicated to the development of the leader. Its popularity has grown exponentially since I coached my first client in 1994.

The pattern of investment has also shifted, in my observation. Ninety-seven percent of Selby Group’s executive coaching services are sponsored by the leader's employer, however the opposite is true for the general population of professionals, with 97% of all coaches hired by the individual, generally without the knowledge of his or her supervisor.

In some regards then, now is the best time to invest in coaching because if you're not coaching your go-getters, someone else is, and the more they invest in their own careers with their own funds, the less likely they are to envision your organization in their futures.

Inside organizations today, the name executive coaching is actually a misnomer in many cases, as more and more executives invest in their directors and managers years in advance of promotion to the executive level. If this is your strategy, now is a great time to begin, since most companies are back on a growth track and thinking about the future. It’s a savvy investment, as it allows the budding leader to take current performance to a new level while preparing for executive responsibilities, and smoothing the transition to a much larger role. It's also an outstanding retention tool.

In some cases, though, now is the worst time to invest in coaching. To determine if now is the best time or the worst time for you to invest in executive coaching, consider the questions below.

Considerations for Investment in Executive Coaching:

1. What will this individual's growth allow you to do that you can't do now?
  Examples:
  • gain new sales
  • turn him loose with the investment community to raise three times the funds he is raising now
  • reduce my direct involvement in her team and focus my efforts on new business
  • improve morale and decrease attrition of our highest-paid and hardest to replace professional staff
2. What is the value of this change? How will your condition be improved if the leader hits or exceeds his or her development goals?
  Examples:
  • We can reduce rate of manufacturing errors at least 30%, which totals $2.4 million over five years and finally brings our costs in line with our competitors
  • We can leverage her C-level relationships to build new business and take key accounts from our top competitor
  • Once this person can take the reins, I can move on and move up
3. What is at risk if you don't develop this leader?
  Examples:
  • Lost opportunity; our competitors are already ahead of us on 12 fronts
  • Loss of key accounts; decision-makers want a more senior-level discussion from our Client Services VP; our key competitor has just landed a seasoned VP and is going after our accounts
  • Lost revenue
4. Which outcomes are most important to you?
   
5. How will you know the leader has achieved success? Put in more traditional terms, how will you measure progress toward the outcomes?
  Examples:
  • Steady increase in case value
  • Steady reduction in turnover in Engineering
  • Fewer new hires let go in first six months due to poor performance
6. Why now?
  Examples:
  • Pending promotion
  • Unique opportunity in the competitive environment; if we don't leverage it now, it will be gone
  • Realized we have a huge gap in succession planning for VP of Marketing
  • Losing our best people and want to invest in remaining top performers to show we're serious about providing opportunities for growth at our firm
  • Excellent track record in bringing in revenues, but a recent blip in performance, want to get him back on track and develop his potential to double revenues
  • Individual is a star in own field, but has lost 50% of team members because they can't stand working with her big ego, and we can't convince others to transfer into her department for the same reason
7. If you want a particular coach, why do you want this particular coach? What are you looking for? Experience? Credentials? Leadership? Empathy? Support? Willingness and finesse in delivering tough feedback?
   
8. Why coaching? Coaching alone is not the best solution to challenges involving more than one person. Team development, restructuring and realignment, staffing changes, or change management are some of the many powerful alternatives that can be used with or without coaching to address more complex challenges.
   

 

 



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