The former Honeywell and General Motors senior executive Larry Bossidy famously said, “There is no way to spend too much time on obtaining and developing the best people.” Bossidy was talking about more than minutes and seconds. Financial costs and material resources are part of the equation too. And there’s a really important point that Bossidy never touched on: the people you choose to develop your people.
Many organisations have coaches of their own. These internal coaches can achieve great results. Executive coaches are specialists in developing people in professional environments. These individuals can help turn employees into superstars. A proper understanding of the pros and cons of both options is essential to find what’s right for your business.
Here are six key factors to think about.
Time and money
An internal coach is a permanent dedicated resource, available on demand. That comes at a cost, financially and in terms of time. Internal coaches need training, supervision, management and continuing professional development and they are on the payroll too. You won’t incur these costs from an external coach – and the price is often negotiable.
An internal coach will have an in-depth understanding of your organisation but they may struggle to think outside the box and be an advocate of change. Although an external coach will need time to get up to speed, they bring a fresh point of view and can see things an internal coach might overlook.
Cultural fit is a definite advantage for a coach whether they are internal or external. The internal coach can gain a level of respect over time that enables them to coach effectively within the culture of the organisation. An external coach has the ability to operate outside cultural norms and really challenge the status quo.
This is where an external coach comes into their own. External coaches are specialists who have often been working professionally, and solely, in this area for years. They are up to date with the latest thinking and research. It is essential for companies to invest in regular training for internal coaches to keep their disciplines as sharp.
Coaching senior colleagues is a common challenge for internal coaches, who must navigate the often complex political and organisational hierarchies of the company. An external coach starts from a different place. Their track record with other organisations provides credibility and an ability to offer other perspectives on the executive experience.
Perhaps the most polarising factor in choosing a coach. Do your people want to be coached by someone who knows them well, or someone with no prior knowledge whatsoever? It will be different for each person. Which is why many companies choose to have the best of both worlds, by bringing in outside expertise to work alongside their own resources.
Rachel Daniel is an executive coach who has been working with companies to enhance the performance and productivity of their leaders for over 13 years. Her dynamic and strategic approach is heavily adapted to the psychology of each person and their own unique challenges, ambitions and environment. She also partners with L&D functions to help them embed a coaching culture into their business. Rachel has extensive experience of running businesses at a senior level, and has both an MSc in Coaching and Career Management and an Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Executive Coaching.