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Why Company Buy-In Is Critical to Executive Coaching Success
By the time someone hires me as an executive coach, company buy-in usually isn’t an issue.
Most companies that hire executive coaches know that it is an investment that can have an impressive return.
After all, it is typically the company that is paying for executive coaching, and they wouldn’t do so unless they believed it was an investment with a healthy return.
But getting the company to sign off on payment for executive coaching isn’t necessarily enough to ensure that the coaching client’s supervisors are truly supportive of the coaching process. When clients go the extra mile to ensure that leaders higher up understand what the coaching process involves and to ask for their support, the results of the coaching engagement tend to be better.
Buy-in involves recognizing potential schedule conflicts, a thorough understanding of the potential ROI of executive coaching, and if possible, a direct meeting between the coach and the client’s supervisor before the coaching process begins.
Coaching May Occasionally Clash with Day-to-Day Business Operations
Though coaches and clients work together to create a schedule that causes minimal disruption to ordinary business activities, there may be times when a coach-client meeting interferes with some other scheduled activity such as a departmental meeting.
The coaching client who makes it a point to discuss the specifics of the coaching engagement with superiors right from the beginning can prevent surprises and help come up with workarounds and alternative arrangements to minimize the impact of the coaching process on scheduling matters.
Understanding of Executive Coaching ROI Creates a More Supportive Environment
Most top-level executives understand that coaching has a strong and positive return on investment, but not all of them do. Usually, educating leaders about coaching ROI happens before a coach is hired, but it’s a good idea for the coaching client to be prepared to talk about the specifics of coaching ROI with those who may still be skeptical.
For maximum support for the coaching process, top leaders should thoroughly understand the process, and exactly how it will benefit the organization.
For example, the client could explain to her supervisor that by working with an executive coach on communication skills, she will ultimately prevent misunderstandings, increase business transparency, and do a better job at representing the company and the brand in all types of business interactions.
The client whose goal is to build more effective teams can explain to his boss that coaching will improve company culture, prevent misaligned objectives, and ultimately deliver higher quality and shorter time to market.
Pre-Coaching Conference with Supervisor Can Boost Results
The opportunity to spend about an hour prior to the formal start of the coaching process talking with the client’s direct supervisor is one no coach should pass up. Not only can I learn about the supervisor’s understanding of the coaching process and clear up any misconceptions, but I can also answer questions and help them realize that they have a real stake in the success of the coaching process.
While my interactions with my client are confidential, that doesn’t prevent the client and their supervisor from discussing goals and objectives. In fact, when the client’s supervisor is curious about the process, they are more willing to provide additional support, such as more flexible scheduling on coaching days. Supervisors who are invested in the process from the outside, often indirectly help the client get more out of their work with me.
Company buy-in is fundamental to executive coaching success, and not just because they sign the checks. When those higher up the ladder than my leadership coaching clients genuinely support the coaching process, it tends to help the client maintain their commitment and enthusiasm as well.
Building company buy-in takes time and requires making a solid business case for executive coaching, complete with goals, milestones, and specific projections of how the process will help the organization as well as the individual.