5 Key Decisions When Launching a Coaching Program for Your Team

Each company is unique and on its own leadership development journey

Regardless of your team's size or past initiatives, it's important to design your coaching intervention to optimize its impact while catering to your resources and existing team dynamics. Here are 5 key program design questions you should carefully and intentionally consider:

  • External vs Internal: Internal coaching programs involve training senior leaders to adopt a coaching approach to managing their teams and so they can also serve as in-house coaches for others. External programs make available coaches that are not employed by the company. Some leaders find it easier opening up to an external coach, and it’s often faster to launch an external coaching program as it doesn't require extensive training to develop in-house coaches. A hybrid approach can involve senior leaders receiving external coaching while junior managers are paired with in-house coaches as they become available over time. External coaches don't typically have a nuanced picture of the company culture and dynamics, which has its pros and cons.

  • Individuals vs Cohorts: You may want to provide coaching to specific individuals based on performance criteria. You can alternatively provide coaching program access as part of inclusion in a career acceleration program. Or you can decide to open up coaching for an entire level of management, such as at a particular job grade or job title. Whichever option you go with, it’s important to communicate how and why you've made selections to both the participants and to your wider team.

  • Fixed-Length vs Open-Ended: The best practice for coaching engagements is to include a minimum of six 1-on-1 sessions to see meaningful results, but its often ideal to run a 6-month program to allow for 8-12 sessions to really move the needle on 2-3 development areas an individual has prioritized for their career growth. Often the 3-6 month timeline is associated with a promotion plan or a performance improvement plan. The alternative is to provide access to a coach as an open-ended, ongoing benefit to leaders, which allows them to schedule sessions with a coach 1-2x per month. If resources allow, ongoing access to a coach can facilitate continuous growth for a leader overseeing a rapidly growing team.

  • One Coach vs Many: Some companies may prefer to select an individual "coach-in-residence" (who is either internal or external) who serves as the coach for all participants. This can be helpful in connecting the dots across a leadership team or company because the coach will become more familiar with a range of team perspectives and the company culture. This individual coach can also be well placed to help design other leadership development and resilience programming for your team. Meanwhile, tapping into a wider pool of coaches allows you to ensure that most participants have their own individual coach, removing any concerns that a coach is juggling too many competing narratives by other peers from their team with which the coach is also working.

  • Assignment vs User Choice: Once you've determined who will receive coaching (assuming you have multiple coaches), you can decide to assign participants with a coach that you feel is best suited for their needs - or you can provide a number of options. Often an individual's coachability is influenced by whether they have agency in the coaching relationship. Allowing someone to pick their own coach from several options provides a sense of empowerment from the outset.

Coaching gives managers a safe space to reflect on their toughest personal and professional challenges so they can confidently provide leadership when it counts the most. When a coaching program is run well, your entire team benefits from higher morale, productivity, and creativity.

CoffeeChat enables companies to run digital coaching programs for their teams. Our mission is to make coaching more accessible, affordable, and relevant for emerging leaders across emerging markets.

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