Many people who are in the Executive Coaching space are often faced with the dilemma of who is the master they are serving? Typically the entry point is Human Resources who would be responsible for identifying some appropriate coaching organizations. Then there is obviously the client who is often offered a pool of coaches to select from. Finally there is the boss of the client who very often is the financial decision maker.
For a coach, how do you best handle this triad with varying agendas and reasons for why the organization might hire a coach? One way to approach this is to clearly understand the decision making process from each perspective and being able to present your case consistent with this. The other piece to consider is the respective roles once the engagement commences. So let’s look at each of these and their role in the overall process.
Their credibility lies in being able to identify suitable candidates. Their focus will be on training, certification and experience of the coach and will treat the process very much like recruiting a new employee. Once the engagement starts their biggest concern will be whether the client is happy with the person selected. In many instances (not all) HR might not be fully aware of the complexity of the client need. If they are they might seek out some check in during the engagement. If not, they will feel that they have done their job once the selection has been made.
This person is looking primarily for fit. Based on whether the engagement is for developmental or remedial purposes, there might be varying degrees of urgency on their part. Above all they will be looking for somebody they can trust and ultimately treat what they say with considerable confidentiality. They want an interaction where the nature of their conversations will not be divulged back to HR or their boss. They could also be looking for a mentor type support.
This is the person, other than the client, who is most vested. They have a lot to gain from the outcome and normally they are the ultimate decision maker. However they must also take a back seat which can be tough. They want to know how the engagement is proceeding but they also must respect the coach / client confidentiality. One effective way of addressing this is by having the client share with their boss how the process is going or the coach, with the client’s permission, provides some sort of agreed update.
However you position your Executive Coaching service be mindful of the varying agendas in the selling phase and then the delicacy of confidentiality once into an engagement