Designing a coaching intervention to support leaders promoted into senior positions

Terblanche, N. (Nicky) H. D. ; Albertyn, Ruth M. ; Van Coller-Peter, Salome (2017-05)

CITATION: Terblanche, N. H. D., Albertyn, R. M. & Van Coller-Peter, S. 2017. Designing a coaching intervention to support leaders promoted into senior positions. SA Journal of Human Resource Management / SA Tydskrif van Menslikehulpbronbestuur, 15:1-10, doi:10.4102/sajhrm.v15i0.842.

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Orientation: Coaching is sometimes used in organisations to assist and support people when they are promoted into senior leadership positions. These coaching interventions are not optimally designed. Research purpose: The objective of this research was to investigate how a transition coaching intervention should be designed to cater specifically for people promoted into senior leadership positions. Motivation for the study: Leaders face daunting challenges when promoted into a senior position. Coaching could offer powerful support, but very little research exists on how to design a transition coaching intervention specifically aimed at supporting recently promoted senior leaders. Research design, approach and method: A constructivist, grounded theory approach using purposeful, theoretical sampling was used to identify 16 participants (recently promoted senior leaders, coaches, Human Resource [HR] partners and a line manager) from various organisations with whom open-ended interviews were conducted on their experiences of coaching during a transition. Main findings: Transition coaching is used reactively, started too late and was not continued for long enough. Transition coaching design should take cognisance of coach–coachee matching; goal setting that includes the organisation’s goals; location of coaching session (away from the office); should include reflection and active experimentation; and use assessments and involving the line manager, mentors and the new leader’s team in the process. Practical and managerial implications: The findings of this research provide practical recommendations for applying coaching during transitions into senior leadership positions and may be useful to human resource practitioners when designing leadership support and succession planning interventions. Contribution and value added: To address the serious and real possibility of failure once leaders are promoted, and to optimise the time and money spent on coaching during career transitions, this research provides insight into the design and execution of tailor-made transition coaching interventions to help recently promoted senior leaders succeed in their new role.

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