Coaching at Work : Open programme

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching Skills for Managers

Coaching at Work : Open programmeIt has been a few year’s since we’ve run our coaching programme on an open
basis, but we have a client with three people who need the training. This
is too few for an in-house course and so I’m contacting other clients to
see if they have one or two people with a training need in coaching skills.

I am looking at late October, probably in the Darlington (North East England) area.

I am happy to charge our old price of £750 + VAT per person which covers
the 2 days of training and 1 night’s dinner, bed and breakfast at the venue.

I’m only looking foe expressions of interest at this stage and so would be
grateful if you could leave a comment if you’re interested.

Using Internal v external coaches

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching principles

Using Internal v external coaches

Using Internal v external coaches

Our working assumption so far has been that coaching is something that ‘managers’ do to ‘staff’. But which managers and what if they are not willing or able to provide coaching? Are there times when it might be better to hire an external coach?

Our first decision then is whether to look for coaches internally or externally. Each has its pros and cons as we’ll see and much will depend on the overall climate into which you are trying to introduce coaching. For example, uncertainty about trust and confidentiality and an unwillingness to tackle issues that may concern performance or tenure make it difficult for very senior staff to turn to colleagues for help. It can be quite lonely in senior positions and the support of an external coach, unconcerned by internal politics can be hugely valuable. There are numerous business and executive coaches offering services and you’ll need to consider the type of coach you’re looking for and whether you want them to have a background in your industry or whether you’d prefer them to come with total objectivity.

If you look internally you’ll need to decide whether you want line managers to coach as part of their day to day relationship or whether you want internal coaching, but outside the line management relationship. In other words it might be useful to have someone from HR act as organization coach or have managers from different departments crossing over and coaching people from entirely different areas. You might decide – and it’s a currently popular choice – to recruit people to the specific role of coach.

Theoretically anyone can be a coach and there’s no reason why the most junior member of staff couldn’t coach the most senior, although this is understandably rare. Certainly there is no reason to assume that coaching must be anchored to the typical hierarchical structure and only ever offered as part of a superior/subordinate relationship. In fact, it is highly questionable whether this approach is one likely to bring about the best results, although we do need to consider credibility and other relationship issues alongside finding people with great coaching skills.

If you look externally you’ll need to find someone with good coaching experience and a track record. These being, in my view, better qualifying criteria than coaching qualifications as there are too many spurious ones out there. You’ll also want someone whose personal style fits your organization and the prevailing culture (or not if culture change is what you’re after!) Then there are of course matters of cost, availability and so on.

Let’s summarise the pros and cons:

The Manager as Coach


Can use coaching as part of a flexible approach

May have to play different roles

Close to the performance of the team

Can be difficult to find time

Good understanding of team strengths

May have to succumb to short term pressures and resort to command and control

The Specialist Coach


Can remain objective

Might need time to establish rapport and trust with coachees

Usually will have time to coach on complex issues

Needs time to understand the organization

Not involved in internal politics

Will eventually leave


How to coach your boss

Written by Matt Somers on . Posted in Coaching Skills for Managers

How to coach your boss

How to coach your boss

I am often asked, can I coach my boss?

The simple answer is yes you can and the coaching principles are exactly the same. You do however need to be subtle, making sure you don’t usurp their authority and doing everything you can to work in a relationship of trust. The relationship you have with your boss is very important on both a professional and a personal level. It can have a significant influence on your day-to-day job satisfaction as well as your long-term career success. The relationship is also important to your boss who is counting on you, and your colleagues, to satisfy customers, meet deadlines and achieve objectives. But keeping this relationship healthy and productive is not about ‘managing’ your boss: it’s about understanding them, and yourself, and then choosing to behave in a way that gets the best results for you, your boss and your organisation.

Only by understanding your mutual needs, styles, expectations, strengths and weaknesses can you develop a relationship that works for both of you. In any relationship what you say and do influences the other person. You can’t change your boss but you can control your own behaviour. It’s important, therefore, to understand what you do that either helps or hinders the relationship. Here are some actions you can take to make the relationship work.

Take responsibility for your own career and personal development. Ask for feedback and coaching throughout the year – don’t just wait for performance reviews. Have a view on your own performance – what are you doing well; what do you need to improve on and be willing to discuss these things.

Take responsibility for coaching sessions. Not all bosses are good at holding coaching conversations so help by being as positive as you can be, even if you don’t like some of the criticism you may receive. Find out what your boss’s expectations are and share your own. Tell your boss what development and support you need. Don’t assume they’ll automatically know.

Use your boss’s time well. Your boss’s time is limited so make good use of it, don’t waste it. Find out if your boss is a lark (good first thing in the morning) or an owl (better later in the day) and choose your moment to raise issues and suggest coaching exchanges.

Use coaching to identify your boss’s preferred working style

How do they like to receive information – face-to- face, in writing, by email?

How much do they like to be involved in decisions?

How organised are they – can they cope with a little chaos?

How comfortable are they with risk taking?

How ‘hands-on’ or ‘hands-off’ are they – can you use your own initiative?

Recognise and appreciate your boss’s strengths. Compliment your boss when they do something you like; that way they’ll learn the actions and attitudes that work for you. Remember, bosses are human and make mistakes too. If your boss is reasonable when you make a mistake then you should be prepared to be the same for them.