How to Get Value from Coaching

One of the bigger 21st Century trends in learning and development is the increased use of coaching as a core component of development programmes. There are several reasons for this: 

  • recognition that there is something going wrong between the classroom and the workplace with new knowledge simply not ending up as new practices at work
  • senior leaders becoming overwhelmed by increasing operational demands and needing help to cope better
  • migration towards the 70:20:10 model with more emphasis on the learning from others element (the 20) than previously.

It is probably worth noting that there is quite a difference between mentoring and coaching even though many people use both words as if they are synonyms.

Mentors are skilled practitioners in their specialist domain and can show you and tell you what are the best practices to adopt. Mentoring is a directive process. Your mentor needs to know more than you do about your work. 

Coaches on the other hand ask questions that reveal your own knowledge and support you to make your own decisions. Coaching is a facilitative process. Your coach doesn’t need to know anything about your work, but needs to be expert in the coaching process itself. 

Our own research* tells us that effective coaching doubles the effort made post-workshop to change workplace practices, and multiplies impact as improved results by 2.5 times.

Our own experience in supporting leaders to develop is that they need the help of a coach to set aside their operational roles from time to time in order to step out changes to their leadership practice. This is particularly so for CEOs and Senior Management Team (SMT) members with large, and sometimes lonely, roles that include board support, championing values and change, internal and external visibility, team governance and leadership, and operational oversight.

There is a great deal written about the role of coaching in bringing out the best in us. This includes studies and observations made by researchers and coaches, as well as testimonials by those who have been successfully coached towards greater outcomes.

The weight of evidence is that coaching really does work, but it can be very expensive and doesn’t always achieve as much as it could.

Here are a few tips to help reduce coaching costs and improve its effectiveness:

  1. Invest in building the coaching skills of your own line managers so that they can competently hold coaching conversations with their direct reports. This will help build a coaching culture where coaching becomes the norm and will raise expectations about giving and receiving coaching support throughout your organisation. Remember to start the training and support with your CEO and SMT so they become coaching role models.
  2. Reserve external coaching for your CEO and SMT. At these organisation levels, external coaching support offers access to wider ideas and the confidentiality that is necessary. A well-trained CEO and SMT will be able to provide appropriate coaching support for their own direct reports.
  3. Consider team and group coaching as part of your coaching mix. Team coaching is where colleagues who work on the same outputs are coached together in their functional unit. Group coaching is where colleagues working on separate outputs are coached together. Both coaching methods make your coaching time and dollar go further.
  4. Adopt a single coaching model across your organisation. This can be an ‘off the shelf’ external model or one that is blended and customised for your own organisation. A single model makes it simpler and easier to train and support coaching practice. 

If you would like to discuss accessing an external coach and/or providing coaching skills training for your line managers, we can help. Call Kyran or Nicky on 0508 ODI ODI (0508 634 634) or email us on

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