Internal or External Coach? How to Decide?

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    My coaching clients often ask, what is the difference with working with an internal coach (an employee) or an external coach (an independent contractor)? Here are a couple considerations to keep in mind as you make the decision to hire a coach.

    1. Clients tend to talk more freely with an external coach than with someone within the organization. An external is “unbiased” while an internal may be influenced by the goals, politics and culture of the organization. For example, it is very common for senior management to “open up” only to an external coach due to the sensitivity of issues they are working on. No matter how well self managed the internal coach may be, if the focus of the coaching is on strategic issues, executives may not feel free to discuss them.

    2. Be sure to have a clear agreement upon how coaching information will be exchanged among the client and sponsor. For purposes of identification, the International Coach Federation defines these roles as follows:

    • Client: The “client” is the person(s) being coached.
    • Sponsor: The “sponsor” is the entity (including its representatives) paying for and/or arranging for coaching services to be provided.

    3. An internal coach may have access to organizational resources that could enhance the coaching. They may also be more available between coaching sessions for extra support.

    4. The external coach may have broader range of experience as they often work with many different organizations.

    5. This does not have to be an either/or situation. Many progressive organizations choose to use both internal coaches and external coaches in order to provide best match of coach for the client as well as the objectives of the coaching engagement.

    What do you think?

    For more resources, see the Library topic Personal and Professional Coaching.


    Pam Solberg-Tapper MHSA, PCC – I spark savvy business leaders to fire up their cutting edge, be extraordinary and do great things for their world. How can I help you? Contact me at ~ Linkedin ~ 218-340-3330