July 4

How Coaching Is Used in Organizations


Often when people first think of coaching, they think about sports coaching. Sports coaching was considered the traditional domain of coaching for many years.   However, for the last 30 years coaching has evolved to demonstrate great benefit for both individuals and organizations.

Modern professional coaching is now used by thousands of organizations to increase productivity, build stronger internal teams, resolve relationship interactions and create superior leaders. While your organization might not be filled with athletes(grin), it will have a need to support and build great leaders.

Organizational coaching is a growing industry with evidence to support the benefits provided. Let's look at how coaching is used in organizations and how it can benefit your company.

Defining Organizational Coaching

Simply put, organizational coaching happens when a professional coach is hired to work with people within an organization. Organizations can be for profit, nonprofit, and even government agencies.  Coaches generally work with, managers, executives and top C Suite leaders in organizations on specific goals or at times clarity on focus and direction.

The relationship between the coach and the coachee is a rigorous, exciting, confidential process which challenges the coachee to explore a particular area.  This first phase of coaching helps both the coach and client clarify their directions and goals. The coach is engaged using high level active listening which is how they generate powerful questions.

Once clarity is established between the coach and coachee the next phase of professional coaching is to map out the steps to attain the set goal or goals.  This includes developing an intelligent action plan setting smart goals. 

Organizational coaching helps to unlock the potential of the management teams and leaders. It's a inner-directed learning process that helps clients discover their process on how to achieve their goals and become more productive.

This type of coaching may happen internally with managers coaching employees. It may also include an external professional coach being hired to work with the management on a one-on-one basis.

Why is Coaching Important for Organizations?

One of the main reasons organizations use coaches is to help leaders deal with unexpected issues. The workplace is a unique, complex environment. It is virtually impossible for anyone to know every possible situation including plans on how to handle them.   With organizational coaching, leaders are not expected to have all the answers to be effective. Instead, through a powerful coaching process they learn how to solve issues including the process to empower others around them.

With good organizational coaching, leaders learn how to lean on the strengths of those working on their team. Leaders are free to focus on the bigger goals and they don't have to engage in micromanaging to make sure jobs get done.

Common Styles and Types of Coaching Used in Organizations

There are four main styles of organizational coaching, which include:

  • Non-Directive Coaching - This style of coaching will use active listening and questioning to draw creativity and insight out of the coachee. It's not the easiest type of coaching for many non-trained managers.
  • Directive Coaching - The most common type of coaching used in organizations is directive coaching. This is most like a mentoring situation, where a manager can work with a younger employee helping them adapt and learning how to get their work done.
  • Situational Coaching - With this style of coaching, the coach will use both directive and non-directive coaching styles.
  • Laissez-Faire Coaching - This is a simple style of coaching where a manager will leave employees to handle their work on their own. It's most likely going to be used when your employees are highly effective at their work.  However often this is not really coaching but managing.

Along with these four styles of coaching, there are two main types of coaching used in organizations:

  • Team Coaching - When someone engages the entire team in an effort to help guide the team towards the main goal, it's known as team coaching. This can be done via an internal coaching style.  However, if the internal coach or manager is to close to the project it can be more effective to use an external coach.  The coach helps the team:
  • Create clarity of vision and purpose.
  • Helps the team break task down into responsible individuals or partnerships.
  • Explores time lines
  • Elicits buy ins or agreements
  • Helps create accountability and communication between sub teams.
  • Executive Coaching - When the leaders of an organization receive coaching, it's called executive coaching. This type of coaching is common when there is
  •  A performance issue
  • Where a leader is integrating into a new role
  • Overcoming a personal or business challenge
  • Dealing with insecurities such as the imposter syndrome
  • There is a need to brainstorm on strategy.

Most common external professional coaches are hired to work with leadership.  This can be due to confidentiality issues and/or specific experience required to support the executive.

3 Top Benefits of Organizational Coaching

1. Increased Employee Confidence

Professional coaching will help to increase the employee's confidence in completing tasks and handling new situations. With coaching, staff will gain the belief that they can complete tasks, handle curve balls and become better leaders.  This can also translate into helping to lower stress levels as they now have a coach to bounce ideas over with.

Managers that receive regular coaching often have a better awareness of their strengths and weaknesses.   For success it is critical we know both including our limits. To be effective everyone needs to know when to reach out for someone experienced or with specific knowledge.  With this heightened awareness, a manager will likely feel more prepared to take on the regular challenges of leading their team.

2. More Effective Leaders

Coaching in organization, has been proven to create more effective leadership. Specifically, one-on-one coaching sessions from a seasoned external coach, organizational leaders will become highly effective as they now have the required support and second opinion on the best path forward.  Of course this translates to substantial, positive gains for the entire company.

3. Better Team Effectiveness

Often staff, even experienced managers have little experience on how to create an effective team.  Hiring an outside experienced coach to consolidate and build a team increases the productivity as well as gives management the experience and understanding if they would like to take over this role in the future.  The critical aspects of team coaching are in building positive relationships and handling best practices for communication within the team.  

Most Common Ways Coaching is Used in Organizations

While both external and internal coaching are used in organizations, how they are used varies from one organization to another. There are three main ways coaching is used.

1. For Better Performance

Both internal and external coaching will help increase performance within an organization.  These can focus on personal performance goals, team or group performance goals or leadership improvement goals.  

This also includes handling difficult behavior issues or just trying to help employees reach their full potential.

2. Employee Development

Many organizations prefer to promote employees from within the company to higher positions. While this might seem a good approach it can often create problems.   The major issue is just because an employee has experience and been around for a while it does not mean that person knows how to manage or lead others.   

Smart organizations will include specific training and/or coaching programs so the newly promoted employees can have support while taking on the new position.   With the right organizational coaching, employees can be developed to reach higher levels and at the same time reduce their stress and insecurities while taking on a new role.  In this case, the person receiving coaching takes a step back and explore how their skills and experience fit within the organization's environment, plus understand what they need to improve on.

When someone is being coached for development, they need a safety net. They might have some level of confidence, but they also need to discover what they do not know and options, including outsourcing when required to solve those issues.

3. Career Coaching

Developmental coaching can also transition to career coaching. This type of coaching happens in an organization where the desire is to develop lower-level employers to become mid-level or even high-level employees.

An HR professional or a manager may provide this style of coaching internally. However, managers may not feel equipped to provide career coaching, unless they have a good track record of building their own careers plus know how to coach others.   It is one thing to have knowledge and another to be able to transfer that knowledge.

Career coaching focuses on the long-term plan and goals of the coachee as well as the needs and desires of the organization. Goals may start in short-term planning and then develop into more long range dreams or aspirations.  Organizations often reserve this type of coaching for their best and brightest workers who have demonstrated potential and a desire for growth.  

In conclusion, whether an organization decides to use internal and/or external coaches, the benefits are tremendous and have established a proven track record.

Frequently Ask Questions / Article Synopsis

  • How does coaching work in an organization?
  • Coaching is extremely effective in for profit, nonprofit and government organizations.  The first step is determining if they have properly trained staff that can manage professional coaching services.   These would be called Internal Coaches. The other option is to select a professionally certified coach on a contract basis.   Generally, for a new coach / client relationship they should meet weekly for the first month and then after settling into a rhythm, can extend sessions out over a longer period.  The most important decision is using an internal or external coach.
  • What is the purpose of coaching?
  • The world where people are self-made, have all the answers and do not need support is a fallacy.   With our complex world handling work relationships, job demands, creative demands and stress is greatly helped by implementing a coaching program. The purpose of the coaching relationship is to build clarity, enhance motivation, brain storm challenges, reflect, create workable project timetables and have some form of accountability.
  • Why is coaching an important skill for organizational leaders to acquire?
  • Coaching at its most fundamental form is a leadership process.  The duty of the coach is to support the client in becoming a better leader in their own life. This will translate into the client owning their place and increasing their confidence. Generally, leaders in organizations have great focus and intention but are lacking in the skills on how to work with employees.   

Barking orders, setting unobtainable goals and pressuring staff is a great way to ensure staff will be looking for an early exist. Leaders that actually take time to learn coaching skills will increase efficiency, build a strong team culture and hang onto talented staff members.


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