Moving Forward with Coaching

If attracting, developing and retaining top talent is a chief concern for your organization in 2013, you’re in good company. The 729 CEOs, presidents and chairmen from across the globe who responded to The Conference Board’s 2013 CEO Challenge survey also cited human capital as their most critical challenge for this calendar year, ranking it above corporate brand and reputation, government regulation, and even customer relationships.

Increasingly, in-house coaching programs are becoming part of many organizations’ talent-development plans. According to the 2012 International Coach Federation Global Coaching Study, 14 percent of professional coaches self-identify as internal coaches; i.e., professional coaches who are employed within an organization and who have specific coaching responsibilities identified in their job description. (This does not account for the percentage of professional coaches in private practice who are contracted to provide coaching services to one or more organizations.)Whether your priorities include engaging and retaining top young talent, developing leadership from within, or boosting productivity and employee satisfaction, an in-house coaching program—be it with internal coaches, external coaches or a combination thereof—can yield significant benefits for your organization.

Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit healthcare systems in the United States, has experienced the positive impacts of coaching firsthand. Since it was launched seven years ago, Banner’s in-house coaching program has offered leadership development to more than 2,500 employees. In recognition of Banner’s masterful use of coaching, the organization was awarded with a 2012 International Prism Award by the International Coach Federation. The Prism Award honors organizations that have achieved a standard of excellence in the implementation of coaching programs for culture change, leadership development, productivity and performance improvement.

Banner offers one-on-one coaching sessions and several classroom opportunities. Among those group learning options are “Coaches Corner,” a monthly tool for everyday leadership, and the “Leaders as Coach” class, a four-hour course that goes over the levels of listening, covers powerful questions and introduces the coaching competencies. There are more than 30 internal coaches who offer coaching in addition to their current Banner duties. “Banner’s community of internal coaches grows in a very intentional pay-it-forward way,” says Kathy Bollinger, president of Banner Health’s Arizona West Region. “As we train internal coaches, they engage in coaching and the community grows.”

ICF industry research shows that a growing number of organizations are following Banner’s lead by incorporating internal coaches into their talent- and leadership-development plans. According to the 2013 ICF Organizational Coaching Study, most coaching programs use a combination of internal and external coaches. ICF Organizational Coaching Study respondents identified several benefits to using internal coaches: In addition to having an inherent knowledge and understanding of company culture, internal coaches are readily accessible to the organization. Some respondents also noted that using internal coaches and providing coach-skills training to staff members helps accelerate the growth of a “coaching culture” within the organization, as individuals who have completed coach-specific training use their newly acquired skills not only as coaches, but also with their own teams—a phenomenon with a  trickle-down effect.

ICF research also shows a trickle-down effect when an organization’s leadership “buys in” to internal or external coaching. Several ICF Organizational Coaching Study respondents indicated that coaching took hold in their organizations after senior leaders tried coaching for themselves and experienced its benefits. These individuals then became “coaching advocates” who spearheaded the rollout of coaching on a wider scale across the organization.

In the seven years since Banner’s coaching program was implemented, employees have seen improved conflict resolution, enhanced teamwork, improved productivity, improved patient satisfaction and better clinical outcomes. These improvements are consistent with ICF findings on the benefits of coaching. In the 2009 ICF Global Coaching Client Study, 71 percent of coaching clients reported improvements in their interpersonal skills. In the same study, coaching clients reported improved communication skills (72 percent), work performance (70 percent) and team effectiveness (51 percent).

The bottom line? Whether your organization develops a comprehensive, in-house program or contracts external coaches on an as-needed basis, coaching works. Again and again, clients have reported getting their money’s worth from coaching, with 86 percent of companies saying they at least made their investment in professional coaching back. Virtually all individuals who hire a coach are satisfied, with 99 percent of coaching clients saying they are “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with their coaching experiences, and 96 percent of clients saying that, given the same circumstances that first prompted them to seek coaching, they would repeat the process.

For more information about how coaching can enhance your organization’s human capital development plan, visit