Internal Coaching: Why You Need It And How To Perfect It

Internal Coaching: Why You Need It And How To Perfect It
Summary: Giants, like Google, are including internal coaching to their employee development programs. Discover all the benefits that are making this approach so popular, and decide whether it’s time your organization joins in.

Why You Need Internal Coaching For Your Employees

Have you heard? Internal coaching is on the rise! Over the past 4 years, the number of internal coaches has grown significantly. Why the sudden surge? Because an internal coaching strategy is key to building a pipeline of change-ready leaders.

What Is Internal Coaching?

Wait. What exactly is internal coaching, again? The definition of internal coaching in business is simply when your coaches and coachees work within the same organization. These coaches can be managers, leaders, or any employee with oodles of experience and wisdom to share.

So, is this something that your company might benefit from? Let’s find out.

The Top Benefits Of Internal Coaching For Employees

You know first-hand that the modern workplace is rife with change and uncertainty. This has made coaching, whether internal or external, a necessary strategy for supporting leaders as they navigate new challenges.

But the merits of coaching are not in question. Every company needs coaching. The real question is whether yours should be internal or external. Explore some of the benefits of internal coaching below before you decide.

1. Closer To The Company Culture

Nobody understands your organizational culture and processes better than the employees who work there, right? This is especially true for employees who’ve been a loyal part of the team for a number of years (love those guys!). So, why not leverage the internal knowledge and experience of these gurus by turning them into coaches?

Plus, empowering respected senior leaders and managers as coaches is the best way to show employees that the company values continuous growth and development. As employees receive support and guidance from leaders, they themselves learn coaching skills too. This way, you’ll foster a culture of coaching and collaboration.

2. More Accessible

It’s tough to deny that internal coaches are more accessible than external coaches. Being in the same offices, sharing the same calendars and using the same software makes it quick and easy to schedule and facilitate coaching sessions internally. No travel, no fuss.

Coaches might even find opportunities to chat informally with their coachees in the cafeteria or after a team meeting. This gives the coach more time to get to know the coachee on a personal level, which provides valuable context for the coaching assignment.

3. More Affordable

Now, this is a benefit that every manager likes to hear! Internal coaching for employees is a more cost-effective choice than external coaching. The reason is that it utilizes the time and knowledge of people who are already on the payroll, rather than hiring external consultants. This is probably why Google launched its Career Guru coaching program [1].

This program includes 350 internal coaches around the world. Coaching sessions take place virtually using Google Hangouts, and coaching on a targeted assignment can last from one to eight sessions. This means that employees can access "gurus" from Google offices across the world without the costs of travel and external consultants.

4. Easily Integrated Into Development Programs

When coaching is internal, it’s far easier to turn it into bigger employee development programs and processes. For example, coaching can support online manager training courses so that learners receive a blend of self-driven eLearning and personal on-site guidance. This often improves training results.

You can even integrate a coaching course into your development program so that employees, managers and leaders on all levels have the opportunity to develop their coaching skills. Plus, when development program incentives and rewards are used to reinforce coaching behaviors, you’ll be able to foster a coaching culture in no time!

How To Put Internal Coaching Into Practice

The benefits of internal coaching for employees speak loud and clear. If you really want to take advantage of these benefits for your company though, you’ll need to follow a few practical guidelines. Let’s dive in.

1. Define Coaching Expectations Up Front

Most employees won’t understand the difference between coaching versus training. So, it’s important to clarify the values, expectations, and goals of your internal coaching program upfront. Explain the role and responsibilities of the coach, as well as the responsibilities of the coachee to learn, ask questions and attend all coaching sessions.

When both parties understand what’s expected of them, and which goals they’re striving to achieve, the coaching experience is likely to be more effective and enjoyable.

2. Set Ethical Guidelines For Coaching Relationships

While there are many benefits of internal coaching for employees, this approach does come with one big obstacle: confidentiality. Because coaches work at the same company as their coachees, some employees might not feel comfortable enough to open up to their coaches. They might worry that the things they say or do are reported to their boss or colleagues.

The good news is that there’s a way around this. Set clear confidentiality policies and ensure that both the coachee and their manager have understood them. Also, try to match employees with internal coaches outside of their team or department. In other words, make sure that the coachee doesn’t report directly to the coach.

3. Develop A Pool Of Skilled Coaches

A strong and effective internal coaching program relies on a large pool of high-quality coaches. One way to achieve this is to select coaches who already have the needed skills and certifications. For example, select those who are certified by the International Coach Federation (ICF) or another approved coach training organization.

Still, there might be many gurus in your company who haven’t yet developed the skills to effectively share their knowledge and facilitate another’s learning. So, it’s important to use ongoing training to keep growing your pool of skilled coaches. Leverage a powerful enterprise LMS to create a continuous and engaging training program that enables coaches to learn what they need, when they need it, from anywhere in the world.


Following internal coaching best practices could help your company to foster a coaching culture, and build a strong line of leaders ready to tackle new situations. In fact, your company’s very survival could rest on the strength of your coaching strategy. So, does internal coaching sound like something your company might benefit from?


[1] Google’s Former Career Coach Recommends This Trick to Boost Employee Engagement

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