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How can you take coaching in-house?

Posted on from Your Total Coach

An increasing number of businesses want to create and establish a coaching culture. But how best to go about it? Reliance upon external executive coaches can be expensive – and neither does it really build capability.Keith Nelson explores the dos and don’ts of introducing coaching to the business.

Introducing a coaching culture

The impetus to introduce coaching as part of the organisation’s culture invariably comes from key people at the upper levels of the business who champion the idea. This is typically the HR director, who can visualise its potential for the organisation, possibly with the support of the CEO and other directors who might have received coaching first-hand and can vouch for its benefits. There then follows the desire to introduce and embed coaching throughout the business.

It's important to distinguish between 1:1 coaching for managers (executive coaching) and the capacity for managers to be able to coach others in the organisation (coach training). It's the latter – coach training – that more and more companies are using to introduce a coaching culture.

Overcoming challenges to ensure success

As a provider of coach training, it’s something that we are regularly asked to deliver, across both the private and public sectors. We are finding this in sectors from insurance to the police, from banking to health trusts.

When doing this work, we quickly become aware of the supporting and restraining forces for coaching in the business and its likely success (or otherwise) – and explore these at length with the relevant client. Often the HR director or learning and development manager is aware of these – particularly the restraining forces – in which case the journey to introduce coaching involves climbing a slightly steeper hill.

While these restraining forces are many and varied, we find there are a key essentials the business can be mindful of to ensure success. Here’s our 10-step guide to introducing and establishing coaching in-house. 

Taking a phased approach to coaching

Phase 1: get buy-in from the top

The CEO, board and senior managers are important in (a) supporting coaching and (b) being effective role models. If they don’t support coaching or role model it, then, at best, the impact of coach training will be reduced, at worst, doomed to fail. The CEO is particularly important as an advocate.

Phase 2: identify your points of entry

Taking all managers through a coach-training programme can be very costly, lead to resistance (“why do I need to do another training course when I’m already overloaded as it is?”) and grow all the characteristics of the sheep-dip approach. The introduction of coaching is often budget-driven.

Phase 3: manage expectations

Accept that managers who are going to be trained as coaches are not going to be expert coaches after a 2-day programme. Make sure key decision-makers are aware of this too. 

Choosing appropriate training for coaches

Phase 4: Choosing the training

Vocational coaching qualifications are available, accredited by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM). These qualifications benefit individuals (they get a CV-enhancing qualification as well as new-found, transferable skills) and benefit the organisation because not only are they developing performance-focused coaching skills, their have to complete a work-based assignment which can be tailored to provide direct business benefits.

There are qualifications accredited by CMI and ILM at levels 3, 5 and 7:

Level 3 is the equivalent of A-Level and is ideal for first-line managers and supervisors. Basic Awards can be delivered in the equivalent of 3-4 days, both through workshops and with online support.

Level 5 is the equivalent of foundation degree. Ideally suited to more senior managers, it's useful for those with a department-wide perspective. Basic Certificates can be achieved in 6-7 days.

Level 7 is the equivalent of postgraduate diploma / masters levels. It's best for senior directors and managers, HR and L&D specialists and external consultants. It's good for those coaching at executive levels. Basic Certificates can be achieved in 6-7 days.


We find that the basic qualifications take clients to ‘base camp’ from which they can then progress with their coaching development.

Phase 5: Use peer mentoring

Much can be learnt from shared experiences with peers. These might be locally based, sector based or, alternatively, have no direct connection with your industry sector.

As a provider of open coach training programmes, we extensively use peer networking, mentoring and review as part of the coaching development process. Clients share experiences, coach each other, review each other and, beyond the training days, network with each other.

Phase 6: see coaching as a long-term investment

Often the coach training involves a group of managers being trained and gaining their qualifications. But what next? How will the initiative be supported and embedded long term? Keep an eye on phases 2 and 3 at the same time as delivering the first programme.

Phase 7: choose your provider carefully

The most effective are the ‘strategic partnerships’ which provide the organisation with a long-term support partner. As it’s a coach training provider you’re looking for, focus on those that are less interested in the hard sell and more interested in asking questions and seeking to understand your business – in other words, role modeling coaching!

Phase 5: Use peer mentoring

Much can be learnt from shared experiences with peers. These might be locally based, sector based or, alternatively, have no direct connection with your industry sector.

As a provider of open coach training programmes, we extensively use peer networking, mentoring and review as part of the coaching development process. Clients share experiences, coach each other, review each other and, beyond the training days, network with each other.

Phase 6: see coaching as a long-term investment

Often the coach training involves a group of managers being trained and gaining their qualifications. But what next? How will the initiative be supported and embedded long term? Keep an eye on phases 2 and 3 at the same time as delivering the first programme.

Phase 7: choose your provider carefully

The most effective are the ‘strategic partnerships’ which provide the organisation with a long-term support partner. As it’s a coach training provider you’re looking for, focus on those that are less interested in the hard sell and more interested in asking questions and seeking to understand your business – in other words, role modeling coaching!

Phase 8: embed coaching as a way of being

Do you want a coaching culture or to use coaching as a tool as part of a broader organisational culture? Relate and integrate coaching to organisational norms, such as managers’ competencies. Ensure all training is delivered in a coaching style.

Phase 9: Accept that not all managers are going to grasp coaching

There are some who do not believe it and are, for example, more comfortable with a telling approach. This can limit the coaching ‘culture’ – particularly for those staff who report to the manager. How will you handle this situation?

Phase 10: get yourself support from a coach – or mentor

Creating a coaching culture can be a long journey with challenges en route – and involves a lot of ‘giving’ as an approach. Working with your own coach or mentor can be a great way of using a sounding board, getting feedback, and re-charging your batteries.

Phase 8: embed coaching as a way of being

Do you want a coaching culture or to use coaching as a tool as part of a broader organisational culture? Relate and integrate coaching to organisational norms, such as managers’ competencies. Ensure all training is delivered in a coaching style.

Phase 9: Accept that not all managers are going to grasp coaching

There are some who do not believe it and are, for example, more comfortable with a telling approach. This can limit the coaching ‘culture’ – particularly for those staff who report to the manager. How will you handle this situation?

Phase 10: get yourself support from a coach – or mentor

Creating a coaching culture can be a long journey with challenges en route – and involves a lot of ‘giving’ as an approach. Working with your own coach or mentor can be a great way of using a sounding board, getting feedback, and re-charging your batteries.

Your Total Coach

Your Total Coach

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