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Should Executive Coaching Programs Only Be For High Potentials?

A frequently discussed topic with human resource leadership is whether executive coaching programs should only be for their high potential talent and conversely not allocate coaching to the balance of the organization. Smart organizations see that there is a strong ROI for executive coaching across all management ranks.

Executive coaching is typically built around an executive coach and candidate mutually working on a set of developmental objectives that are generated from 360° feedback from a wide section of raters within their organization. From all of the input gathered the coach and candidate can then identify perception gaps, blind spots, strengths and areas of improvement. An action plan is developed and then periodic accountability and feedback session are scheduled to bring the plan to life.

A key question is where do you invest? There are several areas to consider:

Senior leadership

Executive coaching is ideal for senior leaders because they have the most complex roles in the organization and have very few peers in which to discuss issues/concerns. An executive coach can provide an objective insight into how to be a better leader and make better decisions.

High potentials

Many organizations have a great deal of anxiety about the retention of their high potential talent. Patty Prosser, President of Career Consultants/OI Partners, wrote in her blog “How To Ease High Potential  Anxiety” that over 40% of companies in a survey reported that they regard coaching as a key retention strategy. Investing in development high potential talent is always a smart move.

Middle management

In the 2015 10th Annual Executive Coaching Survey done by Sherpa Consulting they reported that 37% of firms reported that they provide coaching to the managerial ranks (levels equal to senior management). This shows that there is a widespread belief that it benefits more than just senior leaders.

Problem employees

One of the most debated discussions in coaching is whether a problem employee (relationship/teamwork issues) can be turn around via coaching. In the HBR article “How To Help An Underperformer” Amy Gallo explains that you first need to find out if someone is coachable. If they are, you then need make a concrete plan from how to turn the situation around.

It seems that the organizational benefits of executive coaching extend well beyond high potential delivery and can be beneficial across a wide spectrum of managers.