How Not-for-Profit Organizations Can Drive Change through Internal Coaching (article)
High-performing not-for-profit organizations are by design, not default. They begin and end with high-performing individuals. Not-for-profits face some challenges competing for talent in the marketplace. Although the jury’s still out on how pay and benefits in the not-for-profit sector compares with the for-profit sector, not-for-profits may have a smaller recruiting budget than their for-profit counterparts. They may also not have the fully developed leadership programs that many for-profit corporations use to enhance the skillset of talented staff. As a result, not-for-profits may have a harder time attracting and retaining the high-profile talent they need to become that high-performing organization.
There is an alternative way to develop a not-for-profit workforce. A growing number of organizations are turning to a framework of internal coaches who can assist in creating a pipeline of leaders and develop managers who can coach their teams. On the surface, developing a program internally can be more cost-effective than hiring an external consultant. Internal coaches have other advantages, too. An internal coach knows the culture and the natural flow of an organization. He or she can work closely with the current leadership team to identify what skills are needed at the next level and strategize ways to develop talented employees to fill those needs.
Not-for-profit organizations that are facing an imminent leadership shortage or that find they are struggling to retain staff may want to take a closer look at an internal coaching model.
Why Is Coaching Impactful for a Not-for-Profit Organization?
Investing in talent is the new coin for organizational rewards. Coaching cultures are on the rise and for good reason; the Socratic Method is a time-tested way of communicating, which moves objectives forward and creates personal accountability. This is the foundation of an individualized development program.
We are human first. No matter the organizational issue brought to a coaching session, it will always distill down to something very personal. No two paths to development are the same, and an internal coach can help create plans and strategies that are tailored to an individual’s strengths while continuing to build the skills that will fill the needs within the organization.
Talent requirements for not-for-profit organization leadership are varied. Today’s not-for-profit leaders should have a broad skill set to maintain a competitive edge. Not-for-profit leaders are expected to be conscious of revenue streams and financial management. They are also expected to be drivers of their staff’s success. An internal coach can work with the leadership pipeline to evoke insight, open blind spots, challenge assumptions, and cultivate greater clarity while concurrently addressing predetermined goals that align with organizational priorities.
How Should Internal Coaches be Used?
The ultimate goal of an internal coach structure is to cultivate an engaged peak-performing workforce while attaining organizational objectives. Coaching is prescriptive in nature and by design grows capacity.
It’s also a great predictor of future behavior. Whether you’re developing the organization’s next layer of leadership or offering the C-suite support, coaching is beneficial at every level and talent cycle stage in an organization. Google, for example, uses internal coaches to help introduce new hires into the culture of the organization.
Internal coaches can be useful for recently promoted employees as well. The same competencies that contributed to a promotion may not sustain the leader in a new role. A coach can assist in bridging the gap by facilitating a "transcend and include" process. This is where prior competencies and new ones are melded together to create a new foundation, one which will help the leader be successful in his or her new position.
How to Start an Internal Coaching Program
An organization that has interest in housing an internal coach function must employ a deliberate and thoughtful process. Relying on industry standards from the International Coach Foundation will ensure the coaches are credentialed and working from a sound methodology foundation. Funneling the process through human resources is essential, as well as getting buy-in from the executive suite.
Organizations that have had success with internal coaching have built the coaching model into their talent and performance management process and existing leadership programs.
For more information about how internal coaching may help your organization, please contact us.
Leslie Anderson is a credentialed executive coach and managing consultant for CBIZ EFL Associates.
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