To retain valuable executives – Dissatisfaction with potential for career development is a leading reason executives leave companies. Executives who receive coaching often feel more connected to the firm through a greater sense of commitment to their jobs, increased alignment with the firm’s goals and a sense that their value is being recognized. Investing in the development of current employees is usually better than spending money recruiting new ones.
When a company is undergoing growth or change – The skills necessary to successfully lead a company can shift dramatically as the organization enters a new stage of growth, shifts strategy, enters a new market, faces an evolving competitive landscape, goes public, receives an infusion of growth capital, is acquired or merged with another company, etc. Coaching can assist executives in adapting to change more quickly and competently.
As a succession planning tool – Talented executives being groomed for leadership roles may excel in some areas, but may need improvement in other skills before being promoted to a senior role. Examples of further developmental areas include cultivating a more strategic or company-wide perspective, getting better at developing others, bolstering interpersonal skills or increasing competence around conflict management or negotiation.
When an executive is being promoted or moved to a new role – Coaching can provide a newly hired or promoted executive with critical strategies for learning about the organization, including its culture and politics; understanding expectations of the new role; getting familiar with processes and practices; developing new relationships; recognizing common pitfalls; and identifying targets for “early wins”. Coaching may also be helpful when an executive is given a project or role that is a “stretch” for them.
When training courses or internal “mentors” are not options – senior executives may be hesitant or unable to attend training courses or other “en masse” learning events or may simply prefer individualized, one-on-one development. In some instances, these executives may also feel that they should already have the skills or expertise in question. In these situations, coaching can be preferable since it is a confidential, personal and “safe” development option where the individual is using an objective, external professional to help them with their development. Also, power and politics are removed from the situation because the coach has no agenda other than to help the person being coached. And of course, in some cases there may not be anyone inside the organization with the time and/or expertise needed to work with the executive.
To assist with cultural alignment – Coaching can support executives arriving from other companies and/or other countries as they adjust to a new culture. Many companies offer this type of on-boarding or assimilation coaching for an executive’s first few months with the company.