July 21, 2021 6 min read

Before you hire an executive coach, you need to be well aware of what it takes to truly see a return on the investment.

There are some best practices you must follow when working with an executive coach to get the most bang for your buck - which is important if you're allocating business funds towards this.

No need to fear - we're going to help you set your expectations right from the start and prepare you and your team for what's to come, so you don't waste any time or resources.

We're going to start with some basic information we think you should know as it pertains to any executive coaching program, and then share 10 best practices to align your executives with their new coach.

What Makes A Good Executive Coach?

Executive coaching flat-out works - no doubt about it. Otherwise, we wouldn't see the growing trend of coaches getting hired that we are currently seeing.

But there is a caveat here - it only works if you find the right coach. Your senior leaders shouldn't be coached by just anyone, you need to really do your due diligence in finding someone to bring on board.

There are a few qualities you should look for, including but not limited to:

  • Stellar communication is crucial for the coach to truly understand one's weaknesses, strengths, and goals
  • Business wisdom gained from decades of experience in MULTIPLE industries - ideally, experience in your specific industry
  • Emotional intelligence - so they can understand senior leaders and the teams they manage
  • Accountability is necessary, so they can hold you and your team to the goals you set together

Finding a coach that meets all these needs isn't easy - but, it's essential.

How Long Should Executive Coaching Last?

What is the best practice when it comes to the duration of your executive coaching?

There is no right answer here - because you likely have your own unique set of goals for which you're bringing a coach on board. Those goals - and how quickly you can attain them - will determine how long you need executive coaching.

With that said - this can very quickly become a moving target. What we mean by this is that you may find after working with a coach and achieving milestones that new ones pop up - and if the coach was able to help you get there, why would you stop working with them?

One key takeaway here is that you really need to give your coaching program time to work itself out. You shouldn't set a 1-month or 2-month deadline on your coach unless you absolutely must - and you communicate that with them clearly from the start. Give your coach at least 3 months to work their magic.

How Do I Prepare For Executive Coaching?

Once you've decided that a coaching program is in your executive team's future, you need to begin preparing even before you seek a coach out. Start by identifying why you think a coach is necessary.

What are you trying to solve? Or enhance?

Once you've determined the outcome you'd like to see from your coaching program, you need to then prepare the individual who is to be coached.

Not everyone takes well to coaching, and you need to quickly determine whether or not you believe coaching can be effective in this instance.

Most of your executives have gotten to where they are for a reason - they constantly seek personal development and improvement. They should rejoice at the news they are going to be working with a coach - but if not, you have some work to do.

Best Practices For Executive Coaching - Quick Tips To Get The Most Out Of Any Program

We've covered some basic information on how you can qualify your coach and the importance of preparing yourself and your team members for it.

Now, we want to share some quick tips and best practices to keep in mind when you do begin working with a coach.

With decades of experience coaching some of the world's leading companies, we know a thing or two - and are here to make the experience smoother for you.

Start By Setting Goals & Determining How Coaching Factors Into Reaching Them

We touched on this a bit earlier - but one of the most important factors to keep in mind if you're going to work with a coach is what you hope to achieve with them.

Executive coaches may be able to help you hone in on exactly what your desired outcome is - but you should have an idea going in.

Maybe you've recently promoted someone from your team to an elevated role - and they are now leading a team for the first time in their career, and are struggling with communication or leadership.

Or - maybe you see that one of your tenured executives has a few weak spots preventing them from reaching their full potential and becoming an even more valuable asset to your organization. Whatever the case may be, you need structured goals set in place that tie back to the business.

It shouldn't be something so broad that there is no way to measure it, either. You need to take a deeper dive into how executive coaching fits into your current business strategy as an asset.

When done properly, you can easily tie results to your coaching program, and thus determine whether it's a success or failure.

There Should Be An Assessment Period To Determine The Best Way Forward

Most often when you bring a coach into the equation, they're coming in blind. They only have the information you've presented them with - and nothing more.

So, it's always a good idea to give the executive and their new coach some time to get to know each other, and for the coach to develop their own insights into areas of weakness and opportunity.

A talent assessment is a key component in any coaching program, and should not be taken lightly. If your coach cannot adequately assess where the executive needs to improve, how are they going to help them get there?

Put An Emphasis On Trust And Confidentiality Between The Coach And The Executive

Executive coaches need to develop a tight-knit relationship with the leaders they work with. This takes trust, which is gained through confidentiality.

The senior leader in question needs to wholeheartedly believe that their coach wants the best for them. They also need to feel safe divulging important company information to the coach.

One good way to ensure this doesn't become a problem down the road is by creating a confidentiality agreement right from the start. Even if you don't feel it's entirely necessary, it won't hurt!

Consistent, Regular Meetings Between The Two Parties Are Essential

No matter how long you plan on having your coaching program in place, there need to be frequent, consistent meetings where the coach and executive can discuss current happenings, progress, roadblocks, and plans/goals.

This keeps both parties aligned and focused on the end goal. It also serves as a benchmark for how things are going - which leads us to our next point - evaluation.

Effectively Evaluating Your Executive Coaching Program

With something as intrinsic as coaching, it isn't always easy to evaluate performance and determine how things are going. But if you followed our advice earlier and set realistic, attainable goals with measurable outcomes - it is entirely feasible.

In fact, it's the most important part of any coaching program. If you aren't constantly evaluating results you're seeing from the coach, how do you - as the owner or decision-maker - determine if more resources are needed?

Simply continue comparing your metrics to the benchmarks you set before starting the coaching program. Are you still falling short? Are you exceeding?

Either way, you'll have real data in place that helps you determine what needs to happen next.

Be Patient, And Trust The Process!

One final best practice we want to leave you with is the importance of patience and trusting the coaching process. You aren't going to see results overnight - or even within weeks.

If you're lucky, a few months down the road - you'll start to reap the benefits of coaching. Change takes time, so don't get frustrated if you find it's taking longer than you'd hoped. The results will be worth the wait!

Final Thoughts On The Best Practices For Working With Executive Coaches

Now that you know what to expect from a coach and the best practices involved, all that's left to do is begin the vetting process and find a coach that meets your needs and can help you achieve your goals.

If you're looking for one with real-world experience - look no further than Sigmoid Curve Executive Coaching.

Harold Hillman and the Sigmoid team have decades of experience working with industry-leading organizations to influence change and positive outcomes.

Whether your senior executives need help becoming better leaders, better communicators, better about adapting to change - or all of the above - we can help. We've been there, done that - and have the results and testimonials to back it up.

Let us help you get the most out of your people - after all, they are your most valuable assets! Reach out today and let's chat about your goals and how Harold can get you there quicker than you ever imagined.

Harold Hillman
Harold Hillman

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