An Overview of NHC's Executive Coaching Process
It is first very important to note that New Heights Consulting's Executive Coaching services are uniquely tailored in every case to meet the specific needs of each assignment. Therefore, every coaching engagement and process will be somewhat unique - with the general process outlined below being tailored to the specific needs of the client.
- Baseline Data Gathering. This sets the foundation for the coaching process. During this initial phase, it is essential for the coach to be able to gain a very deep understanding of the executive - i.e., his/her background, experiences, motives, style, approaches, beliefs, etc. It is through this initial step that a highly effective coach can begin to customize the coaching approach and specific methodologies to help ensure the highest levels of impact. Every individual and situation is unique and, as a result, the instruction, advice, etc. should be tailored to mirror the unique needs and characteristics of the client and his/her situation. In order to be highly effective, an executive coach should excel at assessing and deeply understanding each individual and the complexities of his/her situation. In this phase of the coaching program a strong grounding in the behavioral sciences (e.g., psychology, behavioral assessments) is invaluable for any coach to possess. It is during this phase that one can begin to recognize how a good chemistry / connection with one's coach will add tremendous value to any coaching process.
- Personal Assessment. An assessment of "personal style" or behavioral tendencies, supplemented through an assessment tool such as one of the Big Five Factor instruments (e.g., the NEO), The Hogan Assessments (Potential, Challenge and Values assessments), the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Skills, etc. The type of instruments to be employed should vary -- depending upon the needs and focus of the engagement.
- Assessment Feedback. In this phase, focused feedback is provided to the executive on any of the instruments administered (see examples above). This feedback is presented to provide a range of purposes. A well conducted feedback session will provide the executive with a very clear and focused view of him/herself, which can often allow the individual to recognize motives, tendencies, etc. that he/she may not have ever seen as clearly prior to this type of feedback. In addition, this feedback provides another opportunity for the coach to learn even more about the executive's self- perceptions and to gain an even deeper understanding of that individual. This part of the coaching process is also invaluable to a coach in gaining the depth of understanding required to provide deep value throughout the coaching program. Once again, an executive coach's training and expertise in assessment and the behavioral sciences can be invaluable at this point in the coaching process.
- Coaching focus. Ongoing discussions of current challenges related to one's current work related goals, career goals or factors that may impact on these areas. One of the primary goals of the executive coaching process is to identify the ways that the executive can maximize his/her effectiveness and performance moving forward. It is during this phase that the coach, executive along with initial input from others (e.g., immediate manager, human resources, others) can set the foundation for understanding the areas of developmental focus that are most likely to assist the executive realize his/her fullest potential. It is in this phase that a coach will have to rely upon a strong grounding in the behavioral sciences along with extensive corporate experience (i.e., a deep understanding of corporate life and how organizations operate) and a great deal of experience as an executive coach (e.g., to quickly and effectively recognize some of the more immediate coaching opportunities and how to best address them). In addition, it can also be a great benefit when a coach has extensive experience across business sectors and in working with a diverse range of clients (e.g., deep experience working with executives representing a wide range of personal style, cultural, ethnic or national diversity).
- Developmental Feedback. The collection of feedback designed to help the coach and executive identify areas of strength or developmental opportunities on the part of the executive. This type of feedback can come from the previous documentation (e.g., previous performance review information), feedback from the executive, feedback from the executive's manager, peers or others. Feedback can be collected in various forms, such as through one-on-one discussion or through more formal approaches such as 360-degree feedback processes. Once again, at this stage, a coach will need to rely upon a strong grounding in the behavioral sciences along with deep corporate experience and a wealth of experience in analyzing the intricacies of assessing and reporting feedback; these processes are often much more complex and sensitive than many people recognize.
- Developmental Coaching for Skill Development/Behavior Change. This is at the heart of any coaching program. The majority of time spent in executive coaching involves implementing the learning plan to modify behavior and to build / enhance desired behaviors and skills. The process is typically carried out face-to-face at the client's location in weekly or bi-weekly meetings. Accommodations to the executive's schedule are an expected part of the process. The executive coach is available to the executive to assist that individual in a wide variety of ways to identify performance enhancement opportunities and then work to address the identified areas of development. The coaching philosophy at NHC is to utilize action learning models whenever possible in our developmental coaching efforts. This requires the identification of "coaching moments" that allow for the immediate transfer of coaching learnings to address current, real life, organizational issues or challenges.
- Application of Knowledge Consistent with adult learning principles, when learning (i.e., coaching) takes place in a "real time" / applied manner, individuals can address real life organizational challenges while immediately applying new learnings / behaviors to achieve more effective/efficient outcomes. In these types of situations, the opportunity to immediately apply the learning helps with the transfer of learning (to real life situations) and it also can enhance the integration of such learning or behavioral changes. In addition, the executive is "rewarded" by being able to address a current challenge or issue in a more effective manner that s/he might have done so in the past; this is truly impactful coaching - in the same way that other types of coaching (e.g., golf, tennis, piano) have the greatest impact. Ongoing action coaching is a very complex and difficult process that should draw significantly upon all of the strengths of a highly effective coach. As a result, throughout this process, an impactful coach is often drawing from his/her assessment and diagnostic training along with his/her understanding of the business and how organizations should function. It is at this stage on the coaching process that highly experienced coaches have a significant additional advantage gained through their various learnings while working with a diverse mix of highly skilled executives. A strong executive coach will lean a great deal from every coaching program that s/he takes part in. It is through this continual learning, gained from working with highly effective leaders across a wide range of top organizations, that a coach can also rely on this "pollination effect" to help each client benefit from the accumulated learning along the way (i.e., an executive coach's experience, acquired wisdom and continued growth as a coach).
- Review of Progress. The executive coach should also be available to the appropriate individual(s) (e.g., the executive's manager, Human Resources) to provide feedback on the process and progress toward meeting the identified goals. Given that executive coaching is a confidential process, NHC is careful to align with the executive on how and when progress updates are conducted. Therefore, the purpose of such updates is to review progress and to solicit additional input - it is not a "reporting or assessment" discussion. NHC also encourages the organization (i.e., human resources, the executive's immediate manager) to solicit input from the executive regarding the impact of the coaching process on an ongoing basis. The true measure of impact of any coaching program is demonstrated through the outcomes achieved - i.e., the leadership gains made across the target areas. As a result, the discussions and challenges dealt with as part of the coaching engagement can always be confidential - and everyone "wins" when the coaching program has significant impact on helping the executive take his/her skills and organizational impact to new heights.