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Cath Everett

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Internal, informal hires left with no training or support

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Despite the benefits that coaching can bring, all too many organisations select internal candidates on an informal basis and then fail to provide them with adequate training or support, a study has revealed.
 

According to a survey among learning and development managers at 250 large companies undertaken by QA Research on behalf of the Institute of Leadership & Management, a huge four out of five use coaching as a staff development tool, although the larger the organisation, the more likely they are to employ it.
 
Nine out of 10 organisations with more than 2,000 staff had used coaching techniques in the last five years compared with 68% of those employing between 230 and 500 personnel. Of those that had used it, a massive 95% believed that the organisation had benefited directly, while 96% believed that individuals had too.
 
But 83% of those questioned said that they used their own managers to coach staff, while just under two thirds hired experts in. Of the sample employing internal coaches, 53% selected candidates because they were line managers, senior staff members (46%) or a member of the HR department (43%). But just over a third provided their internal coaches with no training or support to perform their new role.
 
Penny de Valk, the ILM’s chief executive, said: “At present, many coaches inside organisations are chosen informally. Managers expressing an interest in coaching are encouraged to ‘have a go’, but coaching is a specialist management skill. You do not become a great coach just by reading a book. It calls for training, experience, ongoing development and support. A willing attitude or natural aptitude is not enough.”
 
The problem was that encouraging managers to coach others without providing them with suitable training and support could restrict the scope and effectiveness of such activity and mean that organisations struggled to “apply a consistent approach to ensure they obtain the maximum benefit”, she added.
 
For example, while coaching could result in specific benefits ranging from improvements in communication and interpersonal skills to enhanced business knowledge and skills in specific areas, many organisations tended to emphasise its ability to address specific performance (26%) or behavioural issues (8%).
 
“Coaching should not be seen as a remedial tool. It is about delivering a high performance culture rather than a tool to address individual weaknesses. All levels of employee, and certainly all managers and leaders, can and should benefit from a coaching approach to management,” de Valk said.
 
The report entitled ‘Creating a Coaching Culture’ also revealed that only 52% of those questioned actively provided coaching for management and non-management staff alike and 85% focused on senior managers and directors.

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