The company’s logic is that the in-house team knows the business better than people brought in from the outside, and that in-house coaching is more cost-effective than bringing in an external coach. This logic is often based upon a hunch, because as yet little research has been done into the ROI for in-house coaching.
When making the business case for working with in-house coaches or to assist in developing in-house talent, the coach must work with the client to create a custom-made program. You start by conducting a needs analysis to help the client see which option best suits her specific needs.You can also talk through the upsides and downsides of training in-house staff to be coaches, in case the client decides an external coach would be better. On the positive side:
- The in-house coach brings to the coaching conversation one big advantage over the coach from the outside: She understands the culture because she’s part of it.
- Line managers can coach on the job and are often experts at process tasks.
- Leaders who’ve been trained to coach and mentor generally have more access and time to coach than external coaches do. Coaching can often be on demand or as needed.
- Being in the business can lead to low-level construal thinking — not being able to see the forest for the trees.
- Although line managers are experts in processes, the multi-billion-dollar question is: Are they experts in coaching talent transfer? Being able to impart skills to another person is a different skill set from knowing how to do a process well.
- The in-house coach isn’t immune to the politics of the workplace, and if dealing with personal information, coachees may be disinclined to open up and truly regard the coaching conversation as a safe place to be open, honest, and vulnerable.
- A challenge for many managers who become coaches is ensuring that they adopt an empowering, supportive role rather than a dictatorial management approach to their coaching. That’s not to say that managers are dictators; we’re just emphasizing that the skill set of a coach is different from the traditional one of a manager.