HR advisors are coaches too!

Maybe the simplest possible definition for the act of coaching is, helping someone get from where they are to where they want to be. The process itself includes goal-setting, development planning, skills and knowledge acquisition… – all activities dear to the HR heart.

No wonder coaching is becoming a core competence for HR advisors, as acknowledged by the CIPD in its latest professional skills framework.

Besides, senior managers and executives are increasingly looking to coaching as an effective approach to personal and organisational development. And not just for themselves but at all management levels. As with any service provider, HR should consider giving the client/customer what they need in the manner that they want it. Coach them!

A professional skill

The CIPD Professional Map states, “Increasingly HR and L&D business partners are expected to demonstrate coaching capability. This particularly relates to the ability to coach business leaders to help them identify and solve particularly business challenges.” And the same goes for line managers expectations of their HR advisors. In fact, the use of coaching is cited at all levels within the part of the Map relating to Learning and Talent Development, and the first two levels of Insights, Strategies and Solutions (applicable to HR advisors) is very clear:

  • 1.17.1 Support the implementation of change by coaching employees in understanding their role in the change that is happening, the reasons for it and the results that are expected.
  • 1.17.2 Coach managers to help them drive and sustain changes in the culture of the organisation.

Remember, it’s not HR consultancy (in which you offer tailored solutions) but HR coaching (in which you help the client find their own solutions) – though admittedly some of the necessary communication skills (questions, active listening, etc.) are the same.

When might you coach?

So what coaching opportunities are open to HR advisors? Resisting a cop-out answer such as, every conversation is a coaching opportunity, the following specific circumstances are a good place to start:

  • A manager taking on a new team and responsibilities.
  • A team impacted by organisational changes that will affect their role(s).
  • An individual conversation about personal or career development.

A caveat

A tiny word of warning: you can’t just shift into coaching mode anytime you find yourself in the middle of a conversation and spot a development opportunity. Don’t forget that the coaching relationship is all about trust. The coachee needs to respect the skills and experience that the HR advisor has to offer and agree to engage in the coaching process – you need permission to ‘go coach’ otherwise you risk the customer becoming frustrated because they came to you for advice and solutions and you’re answering questions with more questions…

For HR advisors, and HR in general, coaching is a chance to not only provide an excellent (better?) service but also to forge deeper, ultimately perhaps more effective, relationships with key members of the organisation as you help them achieve better results. Or, to refer back to the simple definition, get then where they want and need to be.


For more on HR coaching, check out our two-day workshop. Or simply give us a call on 01582 463462. We’re here to help!

Categories: HR

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