The Journal Gazette
Sunday, September 12, 2021 1:00 am

Coaching of employees might take mix of styles

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Employers who invest in employee coaching may find it easier to retain talent but will have to determine whether those teaching moments are best coming from skilled internal staff or external experts.

In many cases, the answer could be a mix of resources, but coaching is tied to organizational success, supporters of formal processes say.

Several studies have shown that coaching “over any sort of training curriculum offers the biggest bang for the buck,” said Kathy Laurnen, director of coach community for Sounding Board Inc. Her company uses a technology-based platform for coaching and development.

Cortney Marchetti, director of talent management at OverDrive Inc., said coaching programs show employees they are being invested in and helps develop staff, making it easier to promote people within an organization. After evaluating budgets and costs, though, many employers resort to broad-scale training programs instead of more specific and direct one-on-one coaching.

Laurnen and Marchetti, who is also a leadership coach with Sounding Board, were the featured speakers during an August webinar. It was hosted by Chief Learning Officer and facilitated by Kip Kelly, director of marketing for Sounding Board.  

Kelly said a 2021 Leadership Coaching Report, which Sounding Board partnered on with Chief Learning Officer Magazine, incorporates feedback from more than 400 human resources and talent development professionals.

Among the highlights:

• Most organizations use a mix of internal and external coaching. Just 10% rely solely on external coaching.

• Directors, vice presidents and equivalent-level staff are most frequently targeted, representing roughly 70%, of employee groups identified for coaching. That compares to just over 15% of entry-level workers.

• Asked about the principal need for coaching, nearly 80% agreed it was to improve skills for specific individuals and about 70% agreed it was to develop “leadership bench strength.” Employee engagement is a strong motivator, too, cited by more than 50%. That's about the same percentage that cited retaining key talent while nearly 40% said coaching supports diversity and inclusion and more than 20% indicated it helps gain competitive advantage.

Some employees perceive less value from internal coaching, but this approach can help within the direct context of an organization's objectives and goals, Marchetti said, because it can guide a person's actions to support those.

But coaching by an external source can be helpful because the outsider has “no skin in the game” nor an agenda. That, Marchetti said, means the time invested may be more focused on an individual's general development.

“There's a benefit to both,” she said.

Laurnen said many of her coaching conversations with individuals are about the culture of an organization and how they want to impact that. As an external coach, she doesn't have a view – other than wanting to help the individual achieve their goal of influencing culture.

New release

“Heart First: Lasting Leader Lessons from a Year that Changed Everything” by David Grossman. The book includes insights from Grossman's decades of working with leaders inside various Fortune 500 companies. It also includes input and interviews from more than 30 CEOs and other top leaders on lessons learned that can help anyone looking to move colleagues or teams through change.

“The lessons shared through the interviews are personal, and remarkable in their candor,” Grossman wrote in one of his email newsletters from “Leaders shared what it felt like during some of the darkest moments of the pandemic crisis, as well as what it was like to begin raw discussions about racial diversity and inclusion in the aftermath of the George Floyd murder.”

Worth repeating

“You're not ready to offer advice until you shift from problem to opportunity.” From a Sept. 1 Twitter post by Dan Rockwell@Leadershipfreak.

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at

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