Executive coaching 'requires management support'

Economy July 18, 2012 00:00

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Four leading executive coaches - Apiwut Pimolsaengsuriya, Jean-Francois Cousin, Kriengsak Niratpattanasai and Potchanart Seebungkerd - recently invited their clients and guests to their "Thailand Coaching Society" forum to exchange views and perceptions o


The leaders set four topics on coaching for the participants to discuss – ROI (return on investment), best practices, sustainability of behavioural changes of executives and ways to enhance effectiveness.
The participants were executives of human resources and other functions from organisations including the Bank of Thailand, Banpu, Kasikornbank, PTT, Mars, CP Retailing and Marketing, DKSH, 3K Battery and HSBC.
Many agreed that an organisational culture conducive to coaching, a fine selection of coaches and the willingness of coaches who appreciate the value and benefits of coaching are among the key success factors for a coaching programme.
The “coaching culture” essentially has to be created by top management, who are actively engaged in the coaching process and acknowledge and reward the progress and achievement of their subordinates who are being coached.
“Maybe top management should try coaching first,” one participant said.
“It all starts from the CEO. If the CEO is old style, there’s no place for coaching at the company,” said Jean-Francois Cousin of the 1-2 Win executive coach company. Most participants concurred it was not an easy task to measure returns from a coaching investment, which largely offers “intangible” values such as showing how the company cares for its staff, improving the workplace atmosphere, and the individual’s behaviour.
“I love the idea of ‘intangible values’. I’m sure it [coaching] will eventually create values at the [company’s] bottom line,” said a human resource executive from DKSH, a leading trade and services company. A CP Retailing and Marketing executive said a successful coaching programme requires the coach to know more than the professional background of his team.
“The profiles provided are usually about work but I think a coach needs to know what his players really are as individuals,” he said.
A PTT executive questioned the notion of an individual’s willingness. “We don’t coach a person who is not willing to be coached. But isn’t he the one who needs coaching the most? 
Apiwut Pimolsaengsuriya from Orchid Slingshot said coaches don’t think they can change people unless they want to change themselves.
“I think coaching may not be an appropriate methodology [to handle this type of staff]. The success rate is very low. From my experience, less than 30 per cent can be changed among people who have problems or some attitude that they don’t want to change.
“But we still need to handle those people … such as through performance management [measures] or straight talk from the boss,” he said.
Kriengsak Niratpattanasai from TheCoach said the success rate for coaching “problematic people” is four times lower and it isn’t worth the resources and efforts of every party.
“Or people in the wrong job ... Ask if we would hire this person again in this position. If the answer is no, coaching should not be conducted,” he said.
Many participants praised the importance of coach selection to ensure that companies are recruiting coaches who are credible, trustworthy and have a “chemistry match” with their subjects.
“When playing golf, we want to have a ‘good pro’, but we are upset sometimes when we get instead a ‘wrong pro’. I’ve found there needs to be certain criteria to select a coach. Not sure if there’s a certificate or standard to ensure?” asked one executive.
Gerrit Pelzer, an executive coach from Vivo Coaching and vice president of the International Coach Federation’s newly-formed Bangkok chapter, said the proper criteria for coach selection was a question that was hard to answer because it concerns “very individual” preferences of each person undergoing coaching. However, certificates can help to a certain extent as they show that a coach has a set of competencies.
Kriengsak said that hurting from his “focusing to much on weaknesses” attitude, he decided to find a coach three years ago by inquiring to his clients and then came up with a fine selection of a coach who was “very good at listening”.
“This guy tried to learn from me, very patient … he forced me to think by using good questions. And integrity ... he honestly told me the truth – at risk of him losing his business.” 
Potchanart Seebungkerd of Jimi The Coach said a good coach would not try to judge his subjects, but would give them his advice based on his own experiences since the task is to “escalate the potential within them”.