5 top tips on buying coaching services

13th May by Karen Smart

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5 top tips on buying coaching services

The use of coaching has snowballed in recent years with it now a critical component part of supporting the learning and development activities of many organisations. But when it comes procuring coaching services or coach training, many purchasing decisions are still being made based upon cost, rather than the value of the results the coaching can achieve.

So how can organisations get the best service or product for their budget? We look at some sure-fire ways to help guide you to guaranteeing good quality and the best value for your financial outlay.

1 Aligning purchasing decisions with your organisation’s and people’s needs

Ideally, coaching should be integrated into the bigger picture and support the organisation’s strategic goals as well as the needs of your employees. Bottom line, coaching needs to be applied where it is going to have the biggest impact so do think about who will receive the coaching, which employee groups you need to invest in and what developmental areas to focus on.

One-to-one coaching is an accepted staple of talent management but what can coaching achieve if scaled up? Many organisations are moving away from the traditional hierarchical leadership model in the realisation that teams and teaming are the answer to many of the pressing issues facing businesses.

Team coaching plays an important role when it comes to increasing capacity to live with uncertainty. A good team coach or pairing of team coaches can be more cost effective and will help teams within organisations perform better where complex tasks require greater levels of collaboration. Working with change, relationships, performance, clarifying purpose, improving effectiveness for business growth and better understanding stakeholder needs are all successful deliverable outcomes of commissioning team coaching.

The value of individual coaching should not be undermined though looking at how wider trends are impacting on how leaders want to learn. DDI highlights in its Global Leadership Forecast 2021, that in times of uncertainty leaders want two things: more time to learn and greater external validation that they are doing the right things. According to its findings, ‘more than anything, leaders want outside coaching and development assignments to help them grow their skills outside of day-to-day work. In addition, they expressed a strong desire for assessment to help them pinpoint their development areas.’

2 Be aware of the time and effort that goes into managing the coaching process

HR has a crucial part to play in selecting, managing and evaluating coaching initiatives, but just how much do they know about the coaching process?

For starters, coaching is not a quick fix and HR professionals should get involved in coaching engagements from the offset. A critical framework is essential to assess an individual’s or team’s need for coaching, their readiness, determining whether to use an internal or external coach and running a thorough coach selection and matching process.

HR should also be involved in briefing the coach, managing the contracting process and monitoring and evaluating the impact the coaching has had. Finally, that learning should be captured and fed back into the organisation’s people management strategy so that it informs how learning and development opportunities are run in the future.

3 Consider the stakeholder relationships

Coaching has come of age with its use focused on people with high skills and motivation, but its use can occasionally throw up unseen challenges. Where HR might be responsible for managing the coaching process, line managers or internal coaches are often the ones delivering it.

Understanding ethical issues and boundaries is hugely important. Good contracting is essential to setting goals, respecting boundaries, maintaining confidentiality and achieving your organisational objectives. But be aware that as sponsor, you will not automatically be privy to everything going on for the coachee during these sessions. There may be sensitive areas that impact performance or a coachee could be suffering from mental health issues. A professionally qualified coaching practitioner will be able to direct the coachee to the best place to get support.

4 Be a quality gatekeeper – setting stringent criteria

Choosing the right coach can be a hard task especially when anyone can say they are a coach. What evidence should you be asking coaches to provide to support their credentials?

A good coach will come armed with experience, qualifications and references that won’t hide poor skills. Hire coaches based on their provable expertise, not what they cost. Set your selection criteria bar as high as you can.

Choose coaches who demonstrate their true capabilities, accountability and professionalism through accredited training and the membership of professional bodies such as the International Coaching Federation, EMCC or Association for Coaching. Establish the type of coaching they offer. Consider their corporate background – do they understand your business? Can they deliver for your organisation?

5 Measure and evaluate your coaching

If you are buying external coaching or coach training in, try to centralise the responsibility and decision making for purchasing and commissioning coaching in one place. Having an oversight of all the coaching taking place throughout the organisation will help ensure that you are controlling costs, ensuring quality and managing its effectiveness.

Coaching is integral to personal growth, team development and organisational learning, so its integration into the broader people management strategy allows you to monitor its contribution to the company’s wider developmental needs.

You can use Return on Investment (ROI) models or create your own way of measuring the coaching’s effectiveness but do ask the coaches you engage for regular feedback along with the coachees you are sponsoring. Involve yourself in the contracting process so you know what progress is being made. Also capture and question that data to enable you to feed that knowledge back into how you manage your people going forward.

Coaching is a wonderful, effective and fulfilling way of developing and leading your people. Done right within the constraints of your budget, it can be transformative and allow your people and organisation to reach their potential, even in times of unprecedented and exponential change.