A common misconception about the appropriate professional development service for employers and employees today presents career coaching as a more “convenient” alternative to executive coaching or organisational coaching in general.
The advantages of career coaching are readily apparent to an ill-informed employer or manager: the sessions cost less since they are delivered individually and charged to the employee alone, the employer does not have to be involved in any phase of the process once he has simply recommended the service, the employee is coached off the clock enjoying an additional corporate benefit, and the employer merely expects him/ her to improve by compensating him/ her for the cost.
However, as experience and knowledge accumulate, one can easily understand why executive/ organizational and not career coaching is the service that ensures maximum benefit and protects both the employer and the employee from missteps, since it is a tripartite and not a bilateral cooperation, which implies that:
- The coach is in contract with the employer, so his ethical obligations and civil liability apply to the organisation as a whole and not just to the coachee.
- The organisational/ executive coach temporarily becomes part of the organisation’s system and as such serves his/her coachee with the aim of mutuality of interests between the coachee and the organisation.
- Being part of the system, the organisational/ executive coach has access to important information, which is often (intentionally or not) omitted by the coachee in a career coaching programme.
- Where values and aspirations do not coincide, the organisational/ executive coach works to align them (which is not necessarily a goal of career coaching)
- The employer, through the coachee’s manager and/ or the representative of the HR Department, formulates the objective of the cooperation with the coachee, a process that is extremely creative and enlightening as well as binding for everyone involved.
- By having direct access to the coach and participation in the process, the employer also evaluates and gives feedback to both the coach and the coachee, further supporting the service offered.
- Aligned with the priorities and aspirations of his/ her employer, the coachee develops in a direction that is more beneficial to his/ her personal path within the organization and not in a direction defined by his/ her own subjective and limited perspective.
Therefore, coaching for professional development is a beneficial service in either case for the coachee, but it is worth examining where his/her goal-setting of his/her future in the organisation can lead him/her when it does not have the aligning support of the organisation itself. It is also worth examining whether a service completely independent of the employer can actually serve the employer’s interests, when the a priori endorsement of them as a whole by the recipient of the service is a basic premise. The ex post compensation of private career coaching sessions to the employees of an organisation is for a service that belongs only to them.
In terms of something concrete and tangible, it is like buying our own desired vehicle in order to then give it to someone else, who will drive it whenever, however and wherever they see fit. It is worth noting further that the risk does not lie as much in the potential misjudgement of the employee, as in the professional coach’s limited understanding and awareness of the employer’s objectives, priorities and particular requirements.
It is the high standard of demands, the extent of commitments and the complexity of the context, relationships and circumstances that determine the value – and therefore influence the cost – of organisational/ executive coaching. Organizational and career coaching are two completely different services, offering different results to different recipients with a similar approach. Career coaching is addressed to employees as individuals within and outside their employer; executive coaching is addressed to employers and their managers (with organisational coaching including the executive, but also addressing lower hierarchy individually – and in groups in the form of team coaching).
For further information do not hesitate to contact us.