When To Call The Coach

November 3, 2006
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HOLLAND — In his time as a corporate coach, Mark de Roo, owner of Keystone Coaching and Consulting LLC, has worked with promising employees, problem employees, and executives who need guidance.

When corporate executives identify a person with potential leadership qualities, they may want to give them additional training or attention, de Roo said.

“They’re really going to want to put that person on the leadership track,” he said.

But, de Roo said, some corporate leaders may not have the time necessary to devote to aiding promising employees in their personal and career growth. That’s when a coach such as de Roo can be of benefit to the company.

“If an organization can honestly recognize that, they may call me in to assist in that process,” he said.

While the employee is the one receiving the coaching, de Roo said he also meets with the manager both at the beginning and end of the coaching to establish what the goals and expectations are, as well as to have a contract signed. The contract assures him that the manager is dedicated to the development of the employee.

“That person needs to have a stake in the development process,” he said.

De Roo said he also helps employees when they are experiencing performance challenges.

“Sometimes it’s performance improvement,” he said. “But often times it is performance development.”

While de Roo focuses on performance development, Tadd Owens, principal of Inner Action Executive Consulting, said he usually sees people when they are “stuck.”

“They’re uncertain about their career; they’re uncertain about their performance. They’re just not moving ahead the way they thought they would,” he said.

Owens said he works with executives and high-potential employees to help them define and achieve their goals.

“In a way, it’s developing a strategic plan for your career and for your life, as well,” he said. “We’re whole people; we work with whole people.”

Owens said often he will have a client complete a leadership assessment survey, then have 10 people the client trusts complete the survey, commenting on the client’s leadership skills. The data from both sets of surveys are considered and the individual is able to see how he or she is perceived.

“There are gaps,” Owens said, between where the clients are and where they thought they were. “Those gaps then turn into opportunities for improvement. Sometimes we walk through the day and we have no idea how others perceive us.”

De Roo said his sessions, which take place twice a month over a period of three to five months, are individualized. He said he follows a model of identifying the issues and challenges, determining the options to dealing with the issues, and then determining the goals for the next session.

After the sessions, de Roo sends his clients a recap e-mail, reminding them of what took place during the sessions and of the goals that were set.

“We need to keep those alive and real,” he said of the goals. “They need to be very tangible.”

The industry average cost for coaching sessions may span from $50 to $250 per hour, de Roo said, depending on the coach’s credentials and experience.

When looking for a coach, both de Roo and Owens stressed that the credentials have to be there, as does an element of trust and chemistry.

“I would also look for someone who has experience at the level of the person being coached,” de Roo said.

Owens said some of the benefits of coaching include helping employees find a clear, strategic plan for themselves — helping them see where they are headed in the company.

“They end up working toward a very clear, very specific action plan,” he said.

Coaching can also be an asset to help retain promising employees and help assimilate them into the culture of the company more quickly, de Roo said. There is also the emotional benefit of employees feeling that the company is making an investment in them.

“I think that makes that bond or that connection that much stronger,” he said.    

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