It has become an increasingly popular trend among HR professionals to turn to executive coaching to improve their effectiveness and to add organisational value. It it is now apparent that tools and concepts developed for coaching company leaders, such as goal setting, targeted behaviour identification, enrolling stakeholders, etc., can all be applied to common HR challenges; like compliance, claim prevention, risk analysis, and the like.

Too often, HR gets stuck in the weeds of compliance and claim prevention. Executive coaching takes a different tack. It focuses on developing human potential.

When HR focuses too narrowly on compliance, it loses sight of the human beings that make the organisation succeed. “We are called upon, by the nature of the work we do, to support the growth and performance improvement of employees throughout the organisation. Whether that is a newly promoted supervisor who is struggling to adapt to the needs and requirements of managing a group, or an executive whose leadership style is sabotaging the organisation’s, as well as his or her own, goals,” said Heather Stewart, HR consultant and executive coach at GlobaLocal HR Solutions in Los Angeles.

According to Stewart, having a clear and concise coaching framework and methodology is invaluable. Without that framework, we would only be providing feedback, which generally just ends up addressing the symptoms of the problem, rather than the cause.

One of the huge pitfalls with regards to executive coaching is having the coach doing the client’s thinking. A good executive coach engages with the client and draws out his or her thinking. The resulting plan of action isn’t dictated by the coach; it is owned by the client.

Crystal Kohanke, vice president of HR at CHRISTUS Health in San Antonio, also added that the best coaches are also great listeners and questioners. HR professionals can help others feel truly heard and understood. This creates the trusting and open platform needed to really assess options and to make real change happen. Using coaching tools and actually including stakeholders in the needs assessment ensures everyone has a chance to be involved in helping people grow or improving performance or a situation,” she said.

Executive coaching principles can also serve to support critical diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives. This would require buy-in and support from an organisation’s top leaders and a strategy by which change can be made, measured, and maintained.

“Increasingly, organisations will look to HR for advice, counsel and strategic alignment of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and HR. Acting like an executive coach in obtaining and listening to stakeholders’ input will be key to HR professionals being successful in the DE&I space,” said ,” said Isaac Dixon, Ph.D., associate vice president of HR at Portland State University in Oregon.


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