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Five questions to ask before taking on a coaching and development project


Do you need coaching in your organisation? James Pentreath thinks you need to ask a few key questions before you do dive in there.
The benefits of developing the talents of business leaders, managers and team members within a company have been well-documented, and in a perfect world money would be thrown at training companies giving them the opportunity to coach and mentor individuals to generate a solid base of invaluable resources.
But, with the economic cloud still hovering ominously above many sectors of UK industry, those holding the purse strings appear to be accepting the value in training and development, but need to know that the programme they select and the coach they use will provide the required return.
Below are five questions that companies should consider at the early stages of a development and coaching project, because having answers to these questions will provide a strong decision-making platform with which to move forward and find the returns needed. The quickest way to squander budget is to neglect the planning stage.
"Without clearly knowing what you want to get from this development programme, you will have little idea of which programme will suit your business and where in the world you will find that expertise."

Have you identified what your key drivers are for investing in a leadership development programme? 

Without clearly knowing what you want to get from this development programme, you will have little idea of which programme will suit your business and where in the world you will find that expertise. So, delve further and work out what the changes are that you need to make internally: they could range from boosting motivation among certain team members right through to transforming a culture from traditional to modern and innovative. Answering this question will give you the intelligence to see what the tangible results of a successful programme will be.

How urgent is this change needed, and what is my timeframe?

If you can answer this question you will have identified whether you need to make long-term and sustainable shifts, or short-term quick-fixes. Making wholesale organisational changes cannot be done overnigh - it takes time and effort from the consultant delivering guidance around the change, and the organisation implementing the change.

How do I know which programme is right for me?

This is one of the most challenging questions to answer, but also one of the most important. From question one you should have identified where the pain and key challenges are in the business, and this is vital intelligence when it comes to working out which intervention or programme will offer the greatest reward and hit the targets you need to be hit. If you know the challenge, you can task consultants with identifying the antidote. Benchmarking will also help you answer this question, so look at what your competitors are doing in terms of coaching and training, and identify the kind of results they are getting.

Do I have the capacity to do bring about change internally?

To do this effectively you will have to take proven concepts, such as the key ingredients involved in motivating a team, and then deliver them internally. To answer this question you need to consider whether any of your current employees have the time to manage this considerable task, and whether any of them would be willing to get accredited to deliver a variety of programmes to other sections of the company. Also, consider what the programmes are in the UK today, and ask yourself whether your employees could deliver them effectively internally.

What are the pros and cons of coaching internally?

Answering this question will enable you to decide whether your business challenges need external help, or whether you can deal with it internally. There will be many factors that are unique to your business here, but it is worth bearing in mind that by delivering it internally you could potentially cut costs by two thirds. On the flipside, the challenge is usually finding the resource internally that has the time to get accredited and then deliver the programme. Then there is the cost of re-distributing workloads or in some cases recruiting a new employee.

"There will be many factors that are unique to your business here, but it is worth bearing in mind that by delivering [coaching] internally you could potentially cut costs by two thirds."

A third party consultant will be able to offer fresh perspectives, and when it comes to organisational development this is hugely valuable. It will force your entire company to look in new directions and has the power to expose an innovative way of thinking like never before. But, when an external consultant leaves at the end of a project, so too does the energy, so as a company you need to work out how you will retain this within the business long after the consultant has left.

Readers can download these questions and subscribe to more information on how to find an effective return on coaching, mentoring and training programmes at

James Pentreath is the founder of organisational development company, Leadership Consulting Partners. Leadership Consulting Partners has delivered its results-driven programmes to large organisations like AXA, Visa, UBS and Betfair, and has a pool of consultants working on a global scale. Leadership Consulting Partners is also responsible for accrediting independent consultants giving them the opportunity to deliver their programmes to new and existing clients, and also employees who can then offer the leadership and development interventions internally within their organisation

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