The argument for internal coaches

Exec Coaching

The argument for internal coaches

Which will most suit your organisation – Internal or External coaches?

Whichever way you look at it, we all go to work for personal reasons. Most of us have the organisations best interest at heart, but often poor interpersonal dynamics can get in the way of good performance….and this can naturally have a negative impact on the bottom line.

We all now know that coaching can make a real difference in this area, but should an organisation that is looking to create a learning culture use internal or external coaches?

There is an argument which says that external coaches have no political agenda and therefore can approach each situation objectively.  Of course, the counter argument is that internal coaches know the organisation intimately and know how to reconcile its needs more effectively.

At Thinking Performers we would argue that a balance is what is needed.

If the organisation has no coaches, the benefits of bringing in experienced outside eyes are obvious.  However, if you already have trained and experienced coaches inside you organisation, it is time to take advantage of this valuable resource.

Thinking Performers has the experience and the ability to coach, mentor and train.  We can help your people to become better coaches, so that you achieve more consistent results.

We believe that when your coaches understand the Thinking Performers model and begin to behave like partners in the development process, then the coaching process can generate genuine bottom-line results.

It takes time

To create a truly effective internal coaching team takes time and effort, of that there is no doubt. We would argue that this is time well spent. We see the role of external coaches as ‘enablers’, helping to create your coaching environment and build a self-sustaining culture.

Tips for using internal coaches

To ensure that your coaches are successful they need to be carefully selected, trained and given on-going support.  Choose people because they are right for the role, not by their position in the company. Remember a coach has different skills to a mentor. Naturally a level of seniority will be expected, but what is most important is that the coaches are respected, have credibility and are trusted.

Most people want coaches who are either in their peer group, or more senior, in which case a range of coaches should be trained an appointed. Bringing on a team of coaches who can also work to coach and support each other will bring amazing insights and drive help in creating the right culture.

Having high level executives as coaches also sends a clear message out across the organisation that you embrace the idea of coaching – this is really ‘walking the talk’!  Though, of course, care needs to be taken for those coachees who might feel intimidated by being coached by someone at the top of the organisation.

Matching coaches and coachees is vitally important, and care must be taken to ensure that there is a ‘fit’.  Internal communications at this time is critical; it’s all about being open and honest about the company’s plans and the role of coaching in those plans. Don’t keep the people in the dark, and remember to celebrate successes!

Some organisations put a fee against the internal coach, so that departments can see the value.  They often use the cost of an external coach as a benchmark. Sometimes, it is only when an organisation can see the cost/benefit that they will they start to see the ‘value’.

Back to the internal communications and the celebration of success

Recognise and reward your coaches and coachees for their achievements.

Coaches are not consultants. We often fall into that trap of offering solutions instead of listening and asking questions. Your coaches need to be skilled in listening and questioning, such that they can help their coachees explore their own ideas and find their own answers. When appropriate, this will lead to the coachee seeking specific help from others, perhaps subject experts or experienced specialists. Sometimes the coach may need to perform this role as well – the skill is to know ‘when’ to wear the coach’s hat and ‘when’ to temporarily wear the mentors hat.

Regular monitoring of your coaching provision, coaches and processes, is vitally important.  This provides the objective measurement of your coaching programmes and helps identify potential ongoing improvements.  This role is sometimes performed by a trusted external partner, but this can equally be handled by an objective internal body.

When you first build your relationship with your external coaching provider you should be looking for them to migrate eventually into a supportive role – providing occasional feedback on your coaching programmes or helping you take your programmes to the next level, as it is likely that they will have experience of best practice in many different sectors and organisations.


  • Start with a trusted provider who takes time to understand you and your goals.
  • Work with them to select, train and monitor your coaches and programmes.
  • Create a sustainable internal coaching resource that can support programmes as demand grows within the organisation
  • Tap into external expertise as and when you can, in order to help you continually develop your approach
Call us today to chat about improving performance and thinking with coaching.
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