Internal Coaching vs External Coaching
When organizations are considering offering coaching they often are confused about the difference between internal coaching and external coaching. The short definition is Internal Coaching is using an existing employees as coaches while external coaching is hiring coaches outside of your organization.
While both can be effective, choosing between internal coaching and external coaching first requires a understanding of both options. Depending on who the coach or coaches will work with, both choices give organizations different viewpoints which are important to consider to best support and align with the ultimate goal. That is, to support those on your teams by helping them become better leaders and work through change and transition.
It is not always easy to figure out which is better for your organization and takes some thought and time to explore. While your leadership team might take on some of the day-to-day internal coaching, bringing someone in for one-on-one coaching can be very beneficial as they can bring in a different perspective.
But before you decide if you need internal coaching or external coaching or possibly both, it's important to understand the key advantages and disadvantages of both.
Internal Coaching vs External Coaching: Pros & Cons
Looking at the pros and cons of internal coaching and external coaching should be helpful. Both have their place, but one might fit better with your needs than another.
Pros of Internal Coaching
Cons of Internal Coaching
Pros of External Coaching
Cons of External Coaching
General note: Coaching cannot exist without confidentiality. Without it coaching sessions usually turn into coachees sharing what they think the company wants to hear not the real truth. Sessions become acting sessions.
There are plenty of benefits to internal coaching and external coaching. Both have their place and can be very beneficial. However, there is a time when you should bring in an external coach, even if you have good internal coaches.
Characteristics Internal Coaches and External Coaches Should Both Have
Whether you're looking to hire an external coach or use an internal coaching program, your coaches should have the following characteristics:
Along with these characteristics, an internal or external coach should have the ability to discuss any type of leadership issue or conflict including:
They should have clear, specific guidelines when it comes to both the coach requirements and expectations for the coachee.
It is also critical to vet all internal or external coaches you decide to hire. You want to make sure you choose the correct internal leaders to provide internal coaching. All the coaches working for your company should have the proper characteristics, knowledge, training and certification.
4 Important Factors to Consider When Choosing an External Coach
If you know it's time to hire an external coach for your company, you should know how to choose the right coach. Let's look at a few of the most important factors to consider.
1. Choose a Coach that Fits
You might run across many great coaches that simply don't fit with your company. It's important to consider the people needing coaching. Finding a coach that will fit with your coachees is paramount to your success.
It's best to meet with any coach you plan to hire first. Interview them and you might even include the coachee and their manager. Sometimes, the relationship is there right from the get-go. Other times, the coach and coachee simply don't click. You will want to consider an exit strategy if things do not work out.
2. Look at the Experience
It's best to have an external coach that has the experience you need. Coaches often have a specialty and you want that specialty to fit your needs. Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, Communication etc… are also areas professional coaches will specialize in. An experienced coach that specializes in the type of coaching you need can be very valuable to your company.
3. Coaching Style
It's also important to look at the style of coaching they use. While the style doesn't need to match the style of the coachee, you should still know the style of coaching that will be used. Sometimes, it can be beneficial if the style doesn't fit your coachees style. i.e. Do you require formal key benchmark achievement tracking or more informal coaching?
If you don't have complete trust in the external coach you hire, it can turn into a disaster. Your coachees need to gain trust in your external coach and it starts with you. If you trust the coach, it will be easier for your employees to trust the coach.
In addition, while these are factors you should look for when hiring an external coach, you should also consider these factors for internal coaches.
If you plan to implement an internal or external coaching program, make sure you have well-defined goals. It can also be helpful to formalize the selection process for your internal coaches. Make sure you have realistic expectations, whether internal or external. Without well managed expectations what could be a tremendous resource for the organization can become quite negative.
Coaching can be very beneficial for your company. It can help your leaders get the perspective they need to grow. With the right approach, you as well as your employees will see the benefits of coaching within your company. Whether you choose internal coaching, external coaching, or both, make sure you consider what will work best for those receiving the coaching.