View from the balcony: it’s a messy business

The last in this series of columns by an anonymous coaching buyer takes a thought-provoking helicopter view of what’s going on in the industry. This issue: profession or professional? When I look for patterns and themes in the industry, I find its continued fragmentation to be the enduring theme of the past few years. I am reminded of a collection of medieval guilds, all vying for pre-eminence, but none able to dominate. The discussions through the Coaching at Work accreditation forum (May issue) have been encouraging, but were long overdue and there is still a long way to go. The […]

View from the balcony – Staying power

This series of columns by an anonymous coaching buyer takes a thought-provoking helicopter view of what’s going on in the industry. This issue: sticky coaches With the economic crisis ever prominent in the news, companies eschewing pay rises and bonuses, and another wave of voluntary redundancies due (the second this year for my organisation), there is understandable anxiety about where the next pay cheque is coming from. Coaches are no different. I’ve recently had to contend with the phenomenon of the ‘sticky coach’ – a coach who sticks to a client, continuing to charge for a service that is providing […]

View from the balcony – Could you make the team?

This series of columns by an anonymous coaching buyer takes a thought-provoking helicopter view of what’s going on in the industry. This issue: Individual vs group work Organisations rarely get to observe the coaching they’ve sponsored. The need for confidentiality and the creation of a safe space means sessions are closed. Recently, however, I had the chance to observe live team coaching. A high-level team in another part of my organisation wanted to develop the organisation’s learning on this approach, given the high cost of the intervention. They had requested that I observe the team coach. The coach appreciated that […]

The invisible man

This series of columns by an anonymous coaching buyer takes a thought-provoking helicopter view of what’s going on in the industry. This issue: line managers in coaching When thinking about the role of line managers in coaching, certain film titles come to mind. The Invisible Man (no offence to women) would be particularly appropriate. The role of line managers seems as obtuse as ever. In my own organisation, where one-to-one coaching using external coaches is the preserve of senior leaders, line managers are not even considered in the arrangement. It’s as if on reaching a certain level, someone waves a […]

View from the balcony – the best of both worlds

This series of columns by an anonymous coaching buyer takes a thought-provoking helicopter view of what’s going on in the industry. This issue: Internal vs external The New Year is fading to a memory and the harsh reality of 2011 is quickly becoming apparent. The prospect of economic recovery is fragile in many countries, while in the UK’s public sector the cuts are already beginning to bite. Times are fraught and coaching contracts will be hard fought for. The anxiety among some coaches is captured by the title of a recently advertised workshop: ‘Leader as coach – are they stealing […]

Thank your lucky stars

This series of columns by an anonymous coaching buyer takes a thought-provoking helicopter view of what’s going on in the industry. This issue: Elite coaching I’ve recently had conversations with a number of individuals that I’d term star coaches. Who deserves such a label? Is it someone who has written one of the better known books or contributes to the coaching community? Or is it someone who can earn more from one or two clients than most coaches do in a year? What makes them worth so much? Fees are a poor indicator of quality coaching, except at the extremes, where […]

View from the balcony – Mentoring was meant to be

This series of columns by an anonymous coaching buyer takes a thought-provoking helicopter view of what’s going on in the industry. This issue: mentor vs coach The use of the term ‘coach’ in a business sense is a 20th century phenomenon; ‘mentor’, however, dates back to the Ancient Greeks. Yet in business, coaching has been in the ascendency for many years. There is the Association for Coaching, International Coach Federation, even this magazine but, International Mentoring Association aside, there is no equivalent in the field of mentoring; even the conferences of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council are dominated by […]

View from the balcony – nearest and dearest

This series of columns by an anonymous coaching buyer takes a thought-provoking helicopter view of what’s going on in the industry. This issue: the internal coach The financial crisis and the resulting pressure to reduce costs have had a clear impact on coaching industry revenue. Companies have demanded a reduction in coaching fees, cut back on hours, or simply ceased funding it.  From an organisational point of view, one solution I’ve noticed is the move away from external to internally sourced coaches. The latter route can save a business considerable amounts of money. Internal coaches are no longer ‘second-class’ practitioners. […]

Whose coach is it anyway?

This series of columns by an anonymous coaching buyer takes a thought-provoking helicopter view of what’s going on in the industry. This issue: outsourcing – buying coaching from whom and for whom? As coaching has expanded over the past decade, so too have the ways that we contract coaches. Non-traditional coaching organisations have grown. These clearing houses or coach dating agencies find coaches for organisations that have neither the time nor the inclination to find competent coaches themselves. But with pressure mounting to cut in-house costs, coaching procurers are increasingly wondering if their roles can survive. Intermediaries between coach and […]

Stay away from the dark side

The third in our series of columns by an anonymous coaching buyer takes a thought-provoking helicopter view of what’s going on in the industry. This issue: ‘bad’ coaching A colleague commented recently that the leadership development industry focused almost solely on how to be a good leader, rarely addressing what they termed “toxic leadership”. I was struck by the similarity with coaching. There is little written or said about “bad” coaching, perhaps unsurprisingly given that there is no single benchmark for coaching. Which leaves the question: what does bad coaching look like? In my view there are two aspects to […]