Getting and Maintaining Senior Sponsorship for Coaching and Mentoring Investment
25th January 2017 | Ed Parsloe
Three tips for getting the support of senior leaders in your organisation
Here are tips from the 3rd edition of Coaching and Mentoring: Practical Techniques for Developing Learning and Performance for getting the buy-in and visible support of senior leaders in your organisation:
Tip 1 - Understand what future potential means for your organisation and find a sponsor
When trying to make the case for coaching, the more specific you can be about the specific opportunities and risks you are trying to address, the more likely you are to be able to identify and engage with a senior stakeholder who really cares about that potential to be your champion and create buy in for your investment. For example risks might include retention issues in mission-critical talent, and you might propose individual coaching for team leaders in that area to improve engagement int their teams.
Tip 2 - Consult and involve stakeholders within the organisation in defining anticipated benefits and key measures of success.
Having identified the impact you wish to have on performance and potential, you need to engage with the main stakeholders to secure their buy in. As discussed, identifying a senior sponsor for your CAM activities will have a significant impact on the likeliness of success. But don’t ignore other players in the system, engaging with them and understanding their drivers, and what success looks like for them is just as important to the overall success of your plan.
Tip 3 – Link outcomes to strategy and define success factors and measures for your investment
You need to make sure you have specific and concrete descriptions of the impact you are seeking. It’s important for the resilience of the investment to document what the organisation’s aspiration is, and to give tangible examples of what you might see people doing differently. And then to link this back to the organisation’s strategic objectives AS WELL AS the HR strategy, talent strategy and L&D strategy.
Where possible success factors (and measures) should link back to the strategic objectives for the overall business – where that isn’t possible they should link to the L&D strategy or HR/ talent strategy. Measurement costs money and time, and different organisations have different metrics that they measure regularly. Ideally when seeking measures of success and return you want to choose one that already exists in your organisation such as Business Metrics, HR Systems Data or industry recognition schemes such as IIP.
Tip 4 – Invest in finding Senior Sponsors
You want your coaching and mentoring investment to have a lasting, positive impact on the individuals and teams who are coached – and on the wider organisation. For this to happen, requires sustained support and funding over a period of years. This, in turn, requires support and sponsorship at senior levels in the organisation – not just within HR but as widely as possible. Too many programmes start out well, with good intentions from senior people in the organisation. But changes happen within the organisational structure, people change roles and pressures on organisations can erode the organisation’s commitment to the programme over time. For this reason it’s critical to have a very senior level sponsor within the business who is prepared to provide long-term support and overall sponsorship to the programme. Ideally, this is the Chief Executive or COO, or another member of the leadership team. This sponsor should be in addition to the Chief HR Officer / Group HRD.
The sponsor should ideally be someone who has had positive personal experiences with coaching and / or mentoring – typically someone who has seen coaching and / or mentoring as being instrumental in his/her success to date. This means that even when there are pressures to reduce support for the programme, there is still a pull from the top to ensure that coaching and mentoring endures and thrives.
About the author: Ed Parsloe has been the Managing Director of The OCM Group since 2009 and is also a member of the CIPD L&D Advisory Board.
This article is based on material contained in the latest edition of Coaching and Mentoring: Practical Techniques for Developing Learning and Performance. You can save 20% when you order the book with discount code BHRCM20