Coaching from within - five keys to success

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Personal development is important to businesses of all types and sizes. It allows workforces to improve their skills and increase their enthusiasm for their jobs which will benefit the business across the board.

Most companies offer training classes and skills workshops on any number of different topics, but more often than not it is internal coaching that delivers the better results.

What is internal coaching and why is it effective?

Internal coaching and development is when a member of staff from within the organisation steps up to mentor another. Although they may not be specially trained in coaching or mentoring, this method offers two key benefits.

Internal staff will naturally have a great understanding of both their company and the industry it operates in.

Firstly, internal staff will naturally have a great understanding of both their company and the industry it operates in. Their advice will be specific and focused.

Inevitably external coaches will offer more generic advice, unless by chance they have deep expertise in that particular organisation’s industry.

Secondly, because the mentors have experience of that particular organisation they can share the experience and expertise that they have developed for getting things done within that organisation.

All organisations have their own characters and quirks and so this very tactical advice can make a big difference.

Coach the coaches

No form of training is easy. To be a successful mentor you need great communication skills, a natural affinity with the people you are mentoring, and the ability to convey complex information in a way that is engaging and memorable.

Even the most enthusiastic members of staff can struggle to bring all of this together, especially if they’ve never done it before.

Using staff with different backgrounds as mentors leads to different perspectives and different areas of knowledge being shared.

For this reason it is important to offer your mentors and coaches all the training and support that they need. They will be happier and more effective in their roles, and these positives will feed through to the employees being trained as well.

Confidentiality is key

For your members of staff to get the most from a coaching scheme they must be able to open up.

Trust must be established, and confidentiality is the key to this.

Employees are unlikely to open up and be completely honest with their coach if they are concerned that admitting a weakness or struggling with a new topic could mean that this becomes more widely known.

Use senior staff from different backgrounds

Coaches should preferably be senior members of staff with knowledge and experience to pass on to younger or more junior employees. Ideally they should also come from different backgrounds, departments or genders.

Using staff with different backgrounds as mentors leads to different perspectives and different areas of knowledge being shared. This will help mentees broaden their horizons and to see things from different perspectives.

Using staff with different backgrounds also tackles the issue of people finding it difficult to open up.

For example, a more junior employee who doesn’t get along with a particular senior employee within their own department will for obvious reasons be reticent about discussing this with another senior person within their own department.

This is far less of an issue if the coach is from a different department.

Coaching should be seen as a binding commitment

It is important that coaching is seen as a binding commitment and a serious process by both the mentors and the employees in attendance.

When personal development is brought in-house it can be easy for members of staff to disregard the seriousness of the process. If sessions are being held by a colleague that they see day in and day out the temptation is to fit it around other commitments.

It is important that coaching is seen as a binding commitment and a serious process by both the mentors and the employees in attendance.

Both parties will need to bring the same level of commitment to the sessions as if they were being run with an external consultant.

Don’t forget to highlight successes

One of the most effective (and easiest) ways to maintain a high level of enthusiasm and engagement for internal training programmes is to highlight success stories. This will show people how useful the process is, rather than you trying to tell them.

At least once a year you should point out the benefits and successes that the training has brought to the members of staff. Case studies are often the best way to achieve this.

Not only will this keep your mentors happy and enthusiastic in their roles, it will encourage the other members of staff to continue with their personal development.

Look for Nick on one of Acuity Training’s multiple management and leadership courses. Nick splits time between Acuity’s Surrey and Central London locations.

About Nick Williams

About Nick Williams

Nick Williams works at Acuity Training, who provide hands-on instructor led training from their two UK offices.

Nick assists on multiple management and leadership courses from either of Acuity Training’s London or Surrey training centres. 

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20th Sep 2016 21:38

I have just spent 3 months setting up an internal mentors network and an internal coaching community in our organisation. It is crucial that the difference between mentoring and coaching is understood and acted upon. Your article is great but the two terms are mixed up and hence the role of mentors and coaches comes across as one and the same thing.

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28th Sep 2016 15:03

All very nice, I add; I'm aware of a few organizations (mostly in Asia) who now add an additional clause to the initial contract of employment for all employees at every level"

" Coach, and share you knowledge and insights as requested for any other employee in any department. When this happens the immediate supervisor must keep this persons work up to date.

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12th Jun 2017 06:58

coaching is the best way to learn new things.Thanks for giving new techniques by this articles for learning.

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12th Jun 2017 08:29

Thanks for your article Nick Williams - fascinating. My experience is that people often prefer face-to-face coaching until they have experienced good phone coaching. Yes, with face-to-face the relationship is stronger but I always say to my clients that coaching isn't about having a conversation with me, it's about me helping you have a conversation with yourself.

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14th Jun 2017 07:16

At least once a year you should point out the benefits and successes that the training has brought to the members of staff.

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