Ratio of coaches to managers

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How many managers can a good coach coach?
How many managers can a good coach coach?

This question arrived by email last week:

We are looking at introducing formal coaching into our organisation (consisting of 500+ managers in EU to be delivered by HR across the EU). We were hoping from your experience if you could advise us how we go about calculating how many coaches we would need to train?  Should we use a ratio?

Questions like this make me nervous. The organisation is not an existing client (although they clearly have some good values) and I don’t know where they’re at, but there’s a lot of strategic thinking needed on introducing coaching before these kind of fine details can be considered.

Here’s my formal reply in case it’s useful:

I don’t know if there’s such a thing as an “industry standard” ratio for coaches to ‘clients’, and much would depend on how frequently sessions were going to be scheduled and how long the coaching relationship was going to last.

Off the top of my head, start with 1:5 and expand or contract as you all gain experience.

Whilst writing, I would also suggest that there are many other things you need to consider especially given differing cultures across the EU:

  • It is essential to gain role model support from the top leadership (walking the talk as well as talking the talk)
  • The coaches drawn from HR must receive high quality training
  • The coaches must be encouraged to support each other and have regular best practice sharing sessions
  • Allow the coaches to consult with external coaches to develop their approach
  • Decide how the success of the coaching will be evaluated and measure it robustly
  • Promote coaching success stories loudly once they begin to happen (and they will)
  • Reward those that participate meaningfully in the coaching process
  • Make sure all other company training is supportive of the coaching initiative
Matt Somers

Matt Somers

Matt Somers is the UK’s leading trainer of managers as coaches. His coaching skills training programmes, books, articles and seminars have helped thousands of managers achieve outstanding results through their people.

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