The average coaching relationship lasts for one year, but the duration of the commitment can vary depending on the employer's needs. Before hiring an executive coach, the employer must specify in a contract several aspects of the job, such as confidentiality, the duration of the contract, the cost and the environment. HR professionals must also decide if they should use in-house or external trainers, or a combination. Coaching is most effective for executives who are preparing for a promotion, taking on a new position, or have encountered an obstacle in their development.
As certified coach Michael Esposito of SPHR states: “A great coach asks profound questions and the client finds the answer for himself.” Joyce, senior vice president and chief people officer at Novelis, mentions that the company uses executive coaching primarily as a tool to accelerate the transition. Since coaching is goal-oriented in this way, many experienced coaches believe that a commitment should last for a fixed period of concerted professional growth and should end when the goal is achieved. The non-profit International Federation of Coaches provides academic training guidelines, credentials and accreditations to schools. Just as “life coaches” have become increasingly popular among people interested in personal development, executive coaching has become widespread as a training tool in the professional space.
This coach also plays the role of confidant when the executive needs a private place to share his true thoughts in complete confidentiality. If human resource managers feel comfortable being trained themselves, they can request that they be trained on their own challenges. This coaching relationship is less goal-oriented and is rather a space for reflection facilitated by the executive. Senior executives often prefer to be trained by someone outside the company so that they feel comfortable disclosing their vulnerabilities.
It is essential that this coach has his own supervisor to ensure that he has the professional support and supervision necessary to manage the complexity of a long-term executive commitment. Ben Dattner, executive coach and organizational development consultant at Dattner Consulting LLC in New York City, suggests that 360-degree feedback should be confidential, but that the development plan should be shared based on the feedback. These ad hoc additions to a training session program could be included in some type of training retention agreement. Because each executive coaching commitment focuses on different objectives, it's difficult to apply universal metrics to measure effectiveness.
However, employers should consider setting up parameters for success before beginning any executive coaching program. This will help ensure that both parties are on the same page and that expectations are met.