Three Critical Success Factors for Organizational Coaching

In my experience, three critical things must occur for organisational coaching to be successful, regardless of the type of organisation.

Even so, users are frequently the three things that so many coaching projects overlook entirely, both in terms of organisational key stakeholders who engage coaches and coaches themselves. And why, in many cases, coaching has been viewed as a “cosy chat” rather than actual, compelling results it can produce for an organisation.

These three critical elements must all occur for a coaching programme to be a success. As such, neither is more important than the other: I regard them as equal sides of what I refer to as the Triangle of Coaching Organizational Success.

If any of the three is out of balance, the triangle sides will not fit together correctly. As a result, the coaching programme outcomes will suffer; if all three are unbalanced, the Triangle will collapse and break down completely.

It can have severe consequences for the organisational development culture and even the organisation itself. And will almost certainly reduce the effectiveness of future coaching in the organisation, if not wholly undermine faith in the coaching process.

Each of these areas is a separate topic that is covered in greater depth in other articles, but to summarise each one:

1. Appropriate Coach/Coachee Match

Expertise is essential in and of itself, and it must be considered when selecting a coaching match. However, relying solely on skills to match a coach and coachee is akin to expecting an employee to be the right fit for your organisation based solely on their abilities and disregarding personality, cultural fit, working methodology, values, and so on. Unfortunately, many organisations do the same with their employees, which explains why many new hires fail (but that’s a topic for another article!).

Many organisations allow the coachee to select their coach, which means they get the coach they want. That is fine if the coachee is very self-aware and critically self-appraised about their development… but many aren’t (which is why they frequently require coaching!).

To get the most out of a Coaching Program Hertfordshire, the coachee must have the coach they need… not the coach they want. The two may be opposed. Furthermore, the coachee must have the coach required to ensure maximum success for the organisation and thus the individual.

2. Particular Outcomes

I learned early on in my career as a manager of organisational coaching programmes that things can go wrong without obvious outcomes for an executive coaching programme (i.e. where the organisation hires a coach to coach an employee)!

When I say “clear outcomes,” I’m not referring to goal setting, which is usually part of the coaching process. What I mean is when an organisation pays for coaching to help an individual or team development.

In this case, the organisation usually has a reason for hiring the coach and has a specific outcome that they want the coachee to achieve. However, there are unlikely cases where there are no particular requirements: even if a coach is hired purely as a sounding board for an Executive, there are usually outcomes expected as a result.

Getting crystal clear on these outcomes is critical for the organisation’s success, the individual’s success, and the coaching industry’s reputation as a whole.

Those “Executive Coaching” programmes may have benefited the individual, but the benefit may not have been apparent to the organisation that invested in the Executive Coaching.

In my opinion, the coaching industry has suffered dramatically due to a lack of clarity regarding organisational outcomes for coaching, which has resulted in perceived value for coaching. And a lot of harm can be done to both the coach and the coachee!

Calculating a bottom-line return on investment for any coaching is difficult enough (especially since a great coach will get the individual to “learn how to fish” rather than “give them fish,” so the role of a great coach in development may be obscured!).

Getting clear on the outcomes the organisation desires to achieve a precise and visible result is thus critical for everyone.

3. Specific Success Indicators

I’ve already mentioned how important it is to be clear on specific outcomes. However, the following foundational component of the Triangle of Organizational Coaching Success is particular measures of success for those outcomes.

This appears to be self-evident and, on the surface, quite simple. However, this is probably the most challenging area to nail down when it comes down to it.

“All right, what is the precise measurement of that?” “How will you see/measure the coachee’s success?” “How will you know if your customers are satisfied?” “What is the measure of that happiness?” I usually ask. And they can be challenging to answer, necessitating a great deal of thought.

Measures of success are difficult to elicit from a client in an organisational coaching situation. It often takes considerable coaching skill to produce answers from the stakeholder engaging the coach – especially when that stakeholder isn’t expecting to be held accountable and to do a lot of thinking themselves, which is frequently the case.

However, the effort is worthwhile. Once these measures are established, the coachee, coach, and organisation all know what they aim for, and the coaching becomes much more targeted and thus effective.

To summarise, if things aren’t done correctly, Organizational Coaching can be an absolute minefield for the coach, the coachee, and the organisational stakeholder engaging the coach.

Of course, other factors come into play, but the Triangle of Organizational Coaching Success has to be the cornerstone of an organisational coaching job.

Suppose any one side of that triangle is missing. In that case, the coaching is more likely to be ineffective than adequate, and at worst, a disaster that could undermine and damage the coachee’s reputation and confidence in future coaching and learning and development support in general in the organisation. The harm is done to the coach and, worst of all, the coachee, who frequently suffers due to the situation. So, the next time you do any organisational coaching, whether you represent the organisation, are the coach or coachee, make sure you include all three sides of the Triangle of Organizational Coaching Success.