Delve In-sights

This stuff is expensive! How to get the best ROI on coaching for your direct report

Are you investing in a coach for a direct report? 

As the person hiring this expensive – but likely highly impactful – resource, the best way to think of yourself is as the “sponsor” of this activity. And, like any sponsorship role, this position comes with responsibilities. 

To help ensure your success, we asked Delve Executive Coaches Michelle Still Mehta and Cammela Teel to share their insights and top advice so that you can ace the role of coaching sponsor. 

They say:

#1 Get alignment with your employee early in the process

#2 Establish a healthy “triad” relationship

#3 Stay informed while respecting confidentiality 

#4 Schedule periodic check-ins

#5 Provide real-life feedback

Read on for their key tips….

#1 Get alignment on the reason for coaching 

Your employee can’t read your mind. 

Cammela says, “Be clear and transparent about the motivation for getting coaching for an employee. You should be able to articulate to the employee and coach how coaching fits within the employee’s development.” 

Listen to what your employee hopes to achieve and – wherever possible – address any lack of alignment before the coaching process begins. Cammela says, “The goals you set together might evolve during the coaching process, but alignment between sponsor and employee in the early phases is a key predictor of success.” 

#2 Establish a healthy “triad” relationship – coach, client and sponsor

We all know what a one-on-one coach/client relationship looks like – but how does a sponsor fit into this equation? 

Michelle says, “It is essential to develop a healthy “triad” or triangle relationship between the coach, client and sponsor for the coaching to be an effective investment.” 

During your kick-off meeting, set healthy boundaries and clear expectations. Use this meeting to ask questions about the coaching process, how you will stay in the loop, and how outcomes will be measured. 

Once these triad boundaries are set, maintain them as you move through the remaining phases of the coaching process.

#3 Don’t expect a play-by-play

Coaching is a confidential process between the client and coach. 

Cammela says “As a sponsor, don’t ask a coach for an off-the-record report. Details from coaching sessions aren’t shared with employers.” 

Michelle agrees. She says, “While you can’t ask questions about the substance of meetings, you can ask about the process. Ask the coach, ‘Is the client attending sessions? Is the client following through on their action items between sessions?” 

She adds, “Substantive issues between a sponsor and their employee should be addressed together with the coach as a facilitator. Don’t try to use the coach as a conduit to your employee.”

#4 Schedule periodic check-ins

Cammela says, “Confidential doesn’t mean hands-off.” 

She says, “Include periodic discussions about coaching in meetings with your direct report. For example, if the two of you meet every week, plan to discuss the coaching process once a month.” 

You shouldn’t ask what has been said during coaching sessions, but you can ask, “How is it going? What are you learning?” and “How can I support you in this process?” 

If you have worked with a coach yourself, share your experience. This can help your employee view coaching as part of their career progression. 

#5 Provide feedback

As a sponsor, you are uniquely positioned to provide “real life” feedback. A coach may hear what the client reports during meetings, but you – as a manager — can provide insights into how the coaching is translating into the work environment. 

If your direct report asks, “Are you seeing change?” be ready to provide specific examples of success and room to grow.

Ready, set, goal!

High-quality coaching can be career-changing – even life-changing – and it isn’t cheap. 

Get the most out of your investment. Set clear expectations, respect boundaries, give frank feedback, and help evaluate outcomes. 

If you are an executive looking to maximize the value of a coaching engagement, reach out to Delve. We would be happy to share our insights and answer your questions. Contact us 

This month’s featured experts:
Michelle Still Mehta, PhD: Michelle helps leaders become the best versions of themselves, and to achieve both personal and organizational effectiveness that is internally meaningful and externally impactful. As a management consultant with 25 years of experience, her approach to coaching is built on a deep understanding of systemic change.

Cammela Teel, ACC, CPCC, PHR: Cammela brings over 25 years’ experience gained in the insurance, financial services and non-profit sectors. She leverages her experience in management, coaching and facilitation, to support her clients in increasing self-awareness, building confidence and achieving the results they want for themselves, their teams and their organizations.

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