A coachee’s manager can either derail or accelerate behavior change. How are you involving them in the development process?

Coaching Tools Change Behavior

The content of your program is important. The great coaching you do is important too. But if you don’t effectively integrate the appropriate external factors into your work, sustainable change will not happen.

In our previous posts, we’ve touched on some important external factors including…

One additional external factor, and the focus of this post, is the coachee’s manager. The extent to which you involve and engage the coachee’s manager will dramatically accelerate or derail the results in your coaching and leadership development programs.

We’ve noticed two costly and critical issues emerge when managers aren’t appropriately integrated and we’ve developed coaching tools to help you overcome these challenges.

Issue #1: The manager isn’t informed about the time commitment required.

Dave is the SVP of sales at a technology company in California. He was a participant in a major leadership development program that involved assessments, workshops, coaching and measurement. The foundation of the program was an initial two-day, simulation-based workshop that involved small cohorts of participants working through a series of business events. Upon entering the workshop on the morning of day 1, Dave let his coach know that the CEO needed him to attend an important meeting that afternoon. The impact? Dave missed critical experiences in the workshop, completely lost momentum in the program, and went on to derail the experience for others. All because his manager (in this case, the CEO) didn’t provide him with the time and space needed to be an engaged participant.

Issue #2: The manager doesn’t truly understand the importance of their involvement.

Sarah is a participant in a six-month coaching engagement at a global manufacturing company. She elected to participate in a coaching opportunity that her company offered. Throughout the engagement, she attempted to update her manager on the progress of her coaching but her manager often skipped one-on-ones, didn’t participate in the 360 process, and largely ignored her requests for ongoing feedback. In essence, the manager didn’t actively support the importance of the development process.

When managers fail to actively support the participant throughout the development process, they can derail a team member’s motivation to change. Additionally, the managers lose out on creating a common leadership language and taking advantage of key coaching opportunities when a coachee is most open to them.

Engage the manager and accelerate results.

Everything changes when a manager is involved in a coachee’s development effort. There are clearer expectations, a higher level of accountability, and a better chance that the development effort will make a significant contribution to the business.

Here are a few coaching tools that we’ve implemented to enroll and engage managers in the coaching and leadership development process:


Actions to Integrate the ManagerDosDon’ts
Conduct a manager kickoffSet clear expectations of the time commitments required of participants. Set clear expectations of how managers can coach.Make the meeting too long
Provide a manager overview letter about the programLay out components of the program and time commitment required of participants.Get overly detailed
Provide regular updatesAfter each workshop or coaching session, provide questions the manager can use in one-on-ones to reinforce learning.Violate confidentiality agreements with the coachee
Calibrate action plansEnsure the coachee shares their action plan with their manager and revises based on input.Use paper-based systems (lack of transparency among coach, manager and participant).
Involve the manager as a coachee’s ongoing supporter to provide feedback about the coachee’s progressAsk the coachee to enroll the manager with both verbal and written communications.Enroll and engage the manager with email-only communication.
Share ongoing measurementShow patterns of behavioral change throughout the engagement.Share confidential data without the coachee’s opt-in and buy-in.
The coach should conduct check-ins with the manager periodically throughout the coaching engagementInform the manager in advance of the purpose of the sessions.Fail to schedule in advance
Involve the manager in the graduation processAsk the manager to publicly acknowledge the changes noticed in the coachee.Forget to prep the manager on how to share behavioral observations

How to Apply These Tools in Your Leadership Development and Coaching Programs

The bottom line is that the coachee’s manager plays a critical role in the coachee’s development. Fail to engage the manager and your client won’t maximize the return in their leadership development investment. Engage the coachee’s manager effectively and you’ll accelerate leadership change, having an even greater impact on business results.

In this post, we laid out just a few tools and ideas to help you better enroll and engage your coachee’s manager. Select some or all to generate better program results.

And, as always, we’d love to hear from you. What tools and tips do you have for enrolling and engaging a coachee’s manager?

Recent Posts
Contact Us

Get our white paper on How to Measure Results in Executive Coaching and Leadership Development by filling out the form

Click here to check out our demo