InsideOut Development

How to Get Executives Invested in Your Coaching Initiative

by Pivot Point
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Getting the right people on board is a crucial step whenever you’re implementing a new program, process, or system. But buy-in from the executive team is especially critical when building a coaching culture (and it goes way beyond the budget). Read on to learn why you need executive support, how to get it, and why the executive team should care about a coaching initiative.

Still exploring coaching initiatives?  Discover 10 criteria to consider in this white paper.

Why You Need Executive Support

Executives determine business goals.

The most effective coaching programs aren’t created around the idea of coaching for the sake of coaching. Instead, a coaching program should be implemented to solve a business goal. A clear business objective increases adoption because employees at all levels can see results and measure success. Your executive team sets the stage for business priorities. Getting their buy-in helps you align your coaching initiative to a key business result. 

Executives have a “bird’s eye” view.

Getting the executive team involved early-on makes implementation and adoption faster. With their insights into all departments of the company, they can identify potential areas of concern so you can solve them before you even begin implementing something new. Executives can also help you coordinate with those disparate departments, making sure everything runs smoothly. Similarly, they can identify potential supporters and detractors and can help you develop an action plan.

 You’ll need to present a united front.

To truly influence the culture of your organization, you’ll need a 360-degree approach. Initially, creating a coaching culture will be difficult and intimidating. Having executive backing will help everyone involved (HR, managers of all levels, and individual contributors) feel more secure and encouraged in their coaching efforts. Getting executives involved in the decision-making process will make them early-adopters and influencers.

They can help you simplify.

Overcomplicating the coaching process is one of the top three reasons a coaching program fails. The most effective coaching experiences are ones that are simple, timely, and match the readiness of the person being coached. Before you implement a coaching approach, ask yourself: is the coaching framework simple and practical enough to be embraced by everyone in your organization? Executives, managers, and employees alike?

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In a recent survey, lack of executive buy-in was listed as a top 3 barrier to implementing a coaching program, more of a barrier than budget, coaching expertise, or ability to measure ROI. Executive buy-in can make or break your coaching initiative before it even gets off the ground. If you’re struggling to get executive buy-in at your organization, use these 5 steps to get the executive team’s attention. 

Navigating the 7 Cs of Good Leadership

5 Steps to Get Executive Buy-In

Be confident and prepared.

Formulate a coaching plan and come to executives with a solution, rather than a problem. Be proactive. Present an articulate and well-researched case for coaching in your organizations. Be assertive.

Many individuals in HR want to play a more pivotal role in driving organizational results but they lose confidence when they feel they can’t prove their relevance. Learn more about proving your relevance in this article by NY Times Bestselling Author Alan Fine.

Bring in an expert.

Sometimes, the support of an outside expert can break through a wall. They aren’t caught up in the dogmas of your organization and can speak right to the heart of the problem. Aligning yourself with an expert makes you look like an expert, too. Find a coaching expert that can help your executives have their own breakthrough moments.

Know the best practices.

You won’t know everything, and that’s OK. You should still do your research so you can field the inevitable questions about coaching frameworks and best practices. Before you meet with executives, consider these 10 criteria and be able to speak to them.

 Coach Up.

What better way to demonstrate the effectiveness of coaching than with a coaching conversation? This blog post provides 3 tips for coaching your boss.

Present the business case.

Your coaching approach should already be tied to a business objective. Speak the same language as your executive team. Tie your coaching initiative back to that objective using case studies and statistics. Also consider other tangential benefits of coaching, like improved retention, engagement, and productivity in addition to the primary business concern.

Read on to discover some key results that can be tied to a coaching system.

Core Coaching Characteristics (and Why You Should Care)


4 Key Results Executives Care About

We asked 649 HR managers who they thought would benefit most from leader-led coaching. More than a quarter of them pointed to their executive team.

It’s easy to see the benefit leader-led coaching provides to the employee experience.

  • 50% of employees who leave do so because of a bad manager.
  • 75% consider their direct boss to be the worst part of their job.
  • 65% said they’d take a new manager over a pay raise.

And employee experience is important. Organizations with strong coaching cultures measured 24% higher employee engagement. And 77% of happy employees believe their manager focuses on their strengths (a key component of coaching).

Any executive should understand the importance of employee engagement. It’s a critical factor in the company’s bottom-line, but that’s not the only benefit executives see from instituting leader-led coaching:

  1. Increased Productivity: 69% of business leaders believe coaching drives productivity gains.
  2. Higher Revenue: Organizations with strong coaching cultures report revenue 34% above their industry peer group.
  3. Higher Employee Performance: Companies with happy employees outperform their competitors by 20%.
  4. Employee Retention: Properly-coached employees outperform their peers by 25% and stay 40% longer.

When The Harvard Business Review interviewed hundreds of coaches, one thing was clear: coaching is an essential tool for achieving business goals. It’s more than just a nice-to-have.

Discover more bottom-line benefits of leader-led coaching
in this infographic.

The 2 Coaching Conversations Execs Need Most

Once you get executive buy-in, what’s next? 

Coaching works best when executives aren’t just bought in, but actually engaged in coaching. Executive should coach each other and their direct reports. Great coaching starts from the top. Coaching is rooted in conversations. We’ve identified two types of conversations where executives struggle the most, and how coaching can make them better.

The most widely-cited coaching weakness of leaders is an inability to have difficult but necessary conversations. We spoke with coaching managers and asked them what leaders were the worst at—more than half of the respondents cited “difficult” alignment conversations.

Alignment Conversations usually occur when someone is unaware of an issue that might be negatively impacting their performance. When a leader is coached to have these conversations properly, both parties can walk away from a difficult conversation feeling heard, valued, and empowered to make the changes necessary for their future success.

Another area many executives need more coaching around is the all-important Breakthrough Conversations. A breakthrough is an instance of success that can lead to further progress or possibility. When a leader helps employees with coaching and follows a simple framework to help breakthroughs happen more often, your teams will be able solve problems more quickly leading to greater success.

Both Alignment and Breakthrough Conversations are based on the GROW® Model. Coaches who use the GROW Model as a conversation framework stimulate the very best thinking and the highest levels of engagement and accountability.

Whatever coaching framework you’re considering, set your initiative up for success by getting full-fledged executive buy-in. Leverage your executive team produce a coaching culture with a lasting impact on your organization.

Still not sure leader-led coaching is a fit for your organization? Learn more about the qualities of a great coach in this e-book.

7 Essential Coaching Behaviors

Category: Coaching Coaching Culture Executives

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InsideOut Development is the world leader in workplace coaching. Quite simply, we help clients hold the conversations that energize people, motivate action, and lead to better—even incredible—business performance. PivotPoint is the voice of the InsideOut Development blog. We hope you’ll find inspiration to act as a “pivot point” in your trajectory (be it personal or professional) and to fuel your everyday breakthroughs.

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