Ten Tips for Selecting Coaching Program Participants

By Marirose Ziebarth

You’ve decided to invest in a coaching program to further develop leadership capacity for your high potential staff, and you’re not sure who should participate. Perhaps you are thinking you’ll quickly send out an email “data call” to see who’s interested and available. You’ve got 25 slots to fill, and still need ten more people. You pause and you wonder, “Does it really matter who is in the coaching program?” The answer is, “Absolutely.” It makes a big difference in helping to ensure effective organizational outcomes if the right participants are selected to receive a coach. Two critical factors we recommend you consider:

  • Readiness. Is the individual able to approach coaching with enthusiasm? Is he/she a high potential employee? Would others describe him/her as a rising or emerging leader? Is he/she a senior leader, or a manager of mangers? Does he/she have a sense of self-awareness?
  • Responsiveness. Is the individual willing to try new behaviors? Has he/she demonstrated some openness to change and to feedback? Does he/she desire to move to the next level? Is/he she transitioning to a new role or already in a new role?
    In addition, contemplate whether this leader’s actions and behaviors affect a significant number of employees. If their success is critical to the organization’s or team’s success, that makes them an excellent candidate to receive coaching.

Who else makes a good candidate for a coaching program? All of the following: those who are in transition, are new to a role or have changed roles, are part of a new organization, are recently promoted, or are experiencing organizational change. In sum, someone who is struggling with how to better interact and engage with others while managing self is a perfect candidate for a coaching program. Below are Suntiva’s top ten tips for identifying coaching participants.

Ten Tips for Selecting Coaching Program Participants

  1. Develop criteria that aligns with your organization’s leadership competencies, development goals, and mission
  2. Provide an organization-wide communication to explain the purpose and objectives of the coaching program to others who may be providing names of employees to be coached
  3. Select candidates who are ready (i.e., those who may have interest in self-improvement or leadership development) and are willing to change
  4. Nominate rising stars and any leaders you want to invest in (i.e., professional development)
  5. Explain how coaching is a benefit and an opportunity to enhance strengths to be more effective; self-nomination is ideal
  6. Avoid those that are completely satisfied with the status quo and do not have any interest in coaching
  7. Ensure that individuals with performance problems are addressed outside of coaching as part of the formal performance appraisal process
  8. Use coaching for its intended purpose, not as a way to improve skills when training would be a better fit
  9. Resist the temptation to send people to coaching as a penalty (i.e., we want this person to leave and don’t know what else to do, let’s have him/her coached)
  10. Do not send individuals to be coached in the place of a difficult conversation that needs to occur (e.g., inappropriate behavior (conduct) or labor relations issues)

Ultimately, the senior leadership of the organization must help individuals understand why they were chosen and endorse the benefits of coaching, so individuals don’t feel that they are in trouble, need to be “fixed,” or that something is wrong with them. Once participants have been selected, it is critical to communicate the reason why they were selected to get a coach, lest they assume it’s corrective or punitive.

Hopefully, these suggestions will help you get the right leaders in the right coaching program, at the right time. Need a new coach? Need coaching? Please contact Suntiva for details about individual, group, and senior leadership team coaching options tailored to team leaders, supervisors, managers and executives (including SES).

About Suntiva:
Suntiva is a business transformation and technology company located in Falls Church, VA, serving government agencies. We enable our clients to improve performance through people, process, and technology in significant, measurable, and sustainable ways. We provide mission critical information technology, digital transformation, organizational performance, human capital, and acquisition lifecycle solutions—with great minds and great hearts.