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Mary Jo Asmus

Great Monday post, Steve. And congrats on your efforts to teach managers to coach. I believe the process and skills of coaching, when learned and supported by an organization's leadership, can send wonderful ripples of learning throughout the organization. There is such energy that can be created there!

One of the most successful initiatives I experienced was with a city government organization that wanted to develop their entire leadership team on limited funds. We began by giving the top leaders a 360 and found that they could benefit from learning to coach the managers in their organizations. We taught the top leaders to coach, and voila! Through their ongoing dedication to coaching others, the entire organization's leadership is stepping up to focusing on developing others and helping them to lead with their strengths.

And the most amazing thing, the cost to the organization was minimal. A great lesson in these tough times.

Steve Roesler


That's encouraging because it reinforces the underlying principle: when people in influential positions take the time to coach/teach/mentor, the results in performance and morale are huge and the cost is next to nothing.

Mark McGuinness

Well you're preaching to the converted here. :-)

I think a critical element of your success was getting buy-in from the senior management. As employees are most influenced by their immediate boss, then it makes sense to start at the top - if you want the benefits to cascade down through the organisation.

Having been involved in several initiatives to develop managers' coaching skills, I've noticed that if senior management are 'walking the talk' and actively coaching others, it raises the status and perceived benefits of coaching - which means everyone is more willing to invest time giving and receiving coaching.

On the other hand, on those initiatives where we started training middle-managers first (not out of choice) there were invariably a number of managers who didn't see why they should be spending valuable time coaching (their words) when 'I'm not getting it from my boss'.

"How often do you see the top leadership in a company totally dedicate two full days to the talent beneath them?" Not often enough - great to see you pulled this off, and thanks for sharing.

Steve Roesler

Right, Mark, you are the choir:-)

It seems as if we have a "shared experience" here, which is not doubt shared by many others.

I've never seen a coaching/training initiative yield really good ROI when it was started at the middle or the bottom. There are always a few people who are seeking professional growth and who leave with a new sense of purpose and the skill to go with it. They probably would have done the same had they read a good book or been to another event that sparked their learning.

We used to get too many engagements that began to fall into the "fix them" category. And companies would pay for it even when told the results wouldn't match the investment without real leader involvement. Now, the statistics (at least in the U.S.) are showing that money spent on employee development is plummeting in large corporations; however, top leaders are spending for their own development.

More of the coaching/training money is being spent by small and mid-sized businesses who are more closely in touch with the relationship between development and results.

Anything similar over there?

Mark McGuinness

"We used to get too many engagements that began to fall into the "fix them" category. And companies would pay for it even when told the results wouldn't match the investment without real leader involvement." Yep, I've come across a fair few of those! And in relation to all sorts of communications training, not just coaching. And the irony is, of course, that the 'throw money at the problem' attitude is usually symptomatic of the problem we're being asked to 'fix'...

I've not seen comparable stats for the UK, but my impression is that company culture is more of an issue than size when it comes to spend on training/development. I've seen big and small organisations that 'get it' and vice versa.

Steve Roesler


Thanks for the response.

I think the "get it" phrase sums up the issue. Additionally, experience shows that throwing money at the problem is frequently an indicator that "they" are seen as "the problem. In fact, the individual contracting for the services may be a large part of the root cause.

Training often ends up being a back-door to coaching. . .

David Hinde | Orgtopia

Hi Steve,

Thanks for another great post. Having just started a blog myself and only so far managed a post per week, I'm blown away by the the quantity and quality of your posts and also that you find time to personally reply to so many comments as well! I have some productivity lessons to learn from people like you!

Regarding this post, I totally agree and can only echo the other comments. I get involved in a number of management development initiatives with my clients, and find that any change programme (coaching or not) is really only a success with total buy in from those at the top of the organisation. I think that leaders understimate the effect they have on the behaviour of those below them.

Kind regards


Mark McGuinness

Hmm, there could be a whole new blog post all about the multitudinous problems indicated/created by the use of the word "they". :-)

Steve Roesler


Best wishes on the launch of your blog. No doubt you'll find a "response" rhythm after a while that suits your style and that of your readers.

Thank you for taking time to weigh in here. . .

Steve Roesler


Such a post could prove that "they" are, indeed, out to get us. . .

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