Set Up Signposts to Gauge How Coaching Is Progressing

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Successfully managing a coaching initiative means striking a balance

between making sure coaching is valuable for the client and for the

organization. If you tip too far in the direction of value delivery for

the individual client, then you run the risk of generating little value

to the company. Tip too far in the other direction and you may compromise

the integrity and privacy of the coaching relationship.

Wendy developed a unique and successful approach to strike the

appropriate balance. She asked each leader and coach to achieve a

series of signposts as the coaching relationship progressed. These

signposts included the following:

Best Practices for Managing a Successful Coaching Initiative 153

_ First coaching session conducted

_ Assessments completed, including multirater interviews

_ Objectives set for the coaching relationship

_ Each objective achieved by the client (there was usually more

than one objective)

The coach and client would mutually agree that each signpost was

completed and then forward the dates to Wendy. Wendy did not

need to know the content of each signpost (thus maintaining the

integrity and privacy of the relationship), only the date that it had

been completed (thus managing the coaching to ensure value for the

organization). Wendy kept a master chart showing the progress of

each coaching relationship. One of her key learnings was that the

assessments were often not completed until after coaching had progressed

for two or more months. This meant that the objectives were

often modified in the middle of the coaching process to respond to

the feedback. Coaching often began with a presenting problem and

previous assessment data. Coaches often had their own surveys they

administered early in the relationship, which offered further insight

into behavioral issues. As a result, the process of setting objectives

and achieving them was more fluid and dynamic than Wendy

expected. Still, the signpost process was valuable in tracking these

developments and taking appropriate remedial actions. For

example, Wendy explored why the multisource assessments were

taking so long and discovered that some of the people who were

asked to provide assessment data (e.g., peers and supervisors) knew

little about the coaching initiative. Consequently, they were reluctant

to provide data until they learned more about the intentions

and scope of the coaching and data collection.Wendy responded by

communicating directly with people who were asked (or going to be

asked) to provide data.

The role of the company’s competency model came up as well.

Competencies were descriptions of behaviors, and these behaviors

were viewed as outcomes of deeper issues that had to be addressed

by coaching. These deeper issues, like those discussed in the first

section of this book, dealt with managing (or repairing) relation-

154 Coaching That Counts

ships, gaining alignment with personal values, and risk taking. Soon

after embarking on this deeper journey, clients were off the charts

of competency models. Competencies were viewed as a great place

to start, but the deeper work took the client and coach to address

other issues. Each coaching relationship required the freedom to go

down its own path.