Insider Secrets To Choose The Best Employee Coaching Companies
Ultimately, employee coaching is in place to motivate and inspire, as well as provide structure for those who lack a solid game plan. As such, your strategy must include follow-up support and social learning supplements. That’s where employee coaching companies step in to offer their niche expertise. But how do you find the best outsourcing partner for your business?
What You’ll Find Inside This Guide…
- Top Advantages Of Employee Coaching Versus Employee Mentoring
- 7 Questions To Help You Decide If Coaching Program Outsourcing Is Best
- 7 Secrets To Set An Accurate Employee Coaching Budget (And Stick To It)
- 7 Tips To Choose The Right Coaching Solutions For Your Team
- 8 Free Resources To Quickly Qualify Coaching Vendors
- Steps To Write A Stellar RFP For Employee Coaching Outsourcing
Employee coaching usually focuses on short-term goals which facilitate targeted and timely support; for example, performance behaviors or skills employees need to develop right now. On the other hand, employee mentoring takes the long-term approach. For instance, mentors meet with individuals or groups every month to update goals and discuss career plans. As a result, coaching is ideal for timely and targeted support. Employees concentrate on their current pain points so that they can achieve their full potential. In fact, many organizations include targeted employee coaching in their employee mentoring strategy. Here are few other notable advantages to consider:
Reduce Online Training Costs
Many organizations avoid employee coaching because they think it’s too costly. In reality, it stretches your L&D budget. Unlike employee mentoring, coaching has a smaller scope, which means that you can tackle emerging gaps if and when they happen. Another perk is being able to reuse assets. You can even repurpose mentoring resources or certification activities to fill in the gaps. That said, you should still set an accurate budget. Factor in outsourcing fees, authoring tools, and seat time.
Make Long-Term Objectives More Manageable
Sometimes, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, especially when long-term objectives are involved. Employees know they need to reach their final L&D destination. But do they have the drive and inspiration to get there? Employee coaching makes these objectives more manageable because it breaks them into milestones. Each coaching session adds another building block. They’re able to track personal progress and see how far they’ve come, as well as evaluate performance behaviors that tie into long-term objectives. For instance, they’re trying to get that big promotion. Employee coaching helps them determine which skills and talents they need to work on and how to make the most of online training resources.
Focus On A Specific Skill Or Task
In most cases, employee coaching centers on a skill set, core competency, or task. Employees can tackle each pain point individually and at their own pace. For instance, they need to improve customer service skills or sales techniques. They’re able to explore all the elements that tie into this online training topic, from compliance challenges to positive work habits. This might even spin off into other employee coaching activities. As an example, they disclose additional skill gaps that hurt workplace productivity.
Boost Employee Motivation
The last thing you want is for employees to feel like another cog in the machine. Every aspect of your online training program should be personalized. Fortunately, employee coaching keeps them motivated and fully engaged. Every element is custom-tailored to suit their needs. A side benefit is retaining your top performers. Motivated employees are more likely to stay with your organization since there are always opportunities for advancement. Granted, they must be passionate about their work. There’s no substitute for that. But, employee coaching often gives them the nudge they need.
Work coaching gives employees control of their professional growth. The coach is merely there to support and facilitate change not to dictate terms or push them in a certain direction. As such, employees are more empowered and self-confident. They know that dedication and hard work is the only way to achieve success. However, they can always rely on their support network to overcome obstacles. That said, you need to gather employee feedback to meet their expectations.
Employee coaching program outsourcing brings many benefits. But is it the right choice for your company? After all, you need to make a strong business case and get staffer buy-in. There are two work coaching routes. The first is to develop content internally, which adds to your L&D workload. The second is to hire a third-party provider. These companies specialize in employee coaching solutions. As such, they have all the necessary tools, talents, and expertise. So, which option delivers maximum value for money? Answer these 7 questions to decide if employee coaching program outsourcing is best for your business.
Do You Have Experienced Employees Who Can Coach?
First, and foremost, you need to look at your talent pool. Are there members of the team who can peer coach, even if it’s on a case-by-case basis? Conduct assessments and evaluate LMS metrics to see who stands out. You can also consider online training certifications. For example, a sales employee outscored all the others in the negotiation and product knowledge courses so they may be a prime work coaching candidate. The follow-up question is: Does your L&D team have the time and resources to develop complementary online training activities?
Do Those Employees Want To Coach Their Peers?
If you do have talented staffers who possess all the necessary skills, do they even want to peer coach? There are several factors to consider. Maybe they’re already pressed for time. Or, they’re more introverted and don’t feel comfortable stepping into the role. Another hurdle is willingness. For instance, they may be so focused on their job duties that they don’t have the desire to coach co-workers. Finally, some employees might already accept that responsibility in a different form. As an example, they host social media groups or online discussions to support their peers.
Does Your Organization Have The Necessary Resources?
This covers a broad range of resources, from JIT activities to development software. I’ll address money a bit later. For now, you need to inventory your assets. Do you already have eLearning authoring tools and an LMS? What about microlearning tutorials and demos to enrich your work coaching program? Keep in mind that the human element is just one piece of the puzzle. Employees still need online training content to build skills and alleviate pain points. That said, you can always hire an employee coaching program outsourcing company for content development. Then host the sessions in-house to cut costs.
Is It More Cost-Effective To Outsource Your Employee Coaching Program?
Employee coaching program outsourcing has to make financial sense. Is it more cost-effective to develop your work coaching strategy internally? Should you hire a bespoke content provider? Or is it best to purchase off-the-shelf solutions? This is one of the most challenging questions because it involves so many elements. For example, you might be able to buy all the necessary software and your L&D has the right skills, however, outsourcing reduces the development timeline. As a result, you can promptly bridge gaps and reduce L&D payroll expenses. Ultimately, you should choose the approach that delivers maximum value for money, even if that means more up-front costs.
Are There Widespread Gaps That Require External Expertise?
You have experienced employees who are ready to become peer support coaches. The catch is that they don’t have targeted know-how. For instance, your top sales staffer is strong in product knowledge but weak in interpersonal skills. The same goes for the entire sales department. Therefore, you may need to hire an eLearning content provider to fill common gaps, especially when team leaders are already overwhelmed with other work tasks. For example, your sales manager usually steps in to offer one-on-one support. But they’re busy with onboarding, compliance protocols, and team evaluations. Employee coaching program outsourcing also minimizes their stress since third-party providers take over some of the skill-building duties.
Do You Need A Fresh TNA Perspective?
Another reason to outsource is that employee coaching solutions offer a fresh perspective. Many outsourcing partners help you evaluate your current approach and identify areas for improvement. Then create a work coaching plan that works best for your team and budget. Outsourcing partners have also gone through trial and error. They know what works and what doesn’t. As such, they’re able to fine-tune your online training strategy and avoid common mistakes. Just be sure to add this to your work coaching wish list. Not all employee coaching companies offer training needs analysis services.
What Is The Scope Of Your Employee Coaching Program?
Just like any other online training strategy, you need solid goals, objectives, and outcomes. You must also determine the project scope. In short, how many staffers need work coaching and to what extent? Subject matter is yet another consideration. For example, you can hire a third-party provider who’s an expert on team building or interpersonal skills and another for product knowledge and sales online training. Outsourcing allows you to diversify or even hire an eLearning content provider with industry contracts. For instance, they consult external SMEs to fill in the gaps.
Budgets are meant to be broken, right? The reality is that every outsourcing cent must be accounted for. An accurate employee coaching company budget is essential for online training success because overspending and unexpected fees can derail your entire project. But setting a realistic budget is just half of the L&D battle. You also need to stick to it, and that’s easier said than done. In other words, avoid all the common pitfalls and leave a little room for unexpected expenses. Let’s look at 7 insider secrets to create a spot-on employee coaching programs budget and follow through.
Gather All Your Assets
It’s a shame to let all those archived assets go to waste, especially when you can re-purpose them for your employee coaching plan and reduce costs. But, you shouldn’t stop at assets that are collecting dust. It’s also essential to inventory online training materials that are still active. That way, you avoid repetitive content and redundant outsourcing tasks. Plus, employee coaching companies may be able to lower their fees since you already have content to work with and they don’t have to purchase third-party assets. You can also hire an eLearning content provider for TNA and resource evaluation.
Create An Employee Coaching Plan Wish List
An accurate employee coaching solutions budget is all about the necessities. You may not have room for “wants.” However, it’s always good to have a wish list, even it includes upcoming projects. For instance, you want to host weekly employee coaching events for each department in the near future. You should also have a list of must-haves that you simply can’t do without. These are the deliverables at the core of your business case. In short, all the online training activities and JIT resources that boost ROI.
Put A Pin In Long-Term Objectives
Employee coaching is usually intended for short-term goals. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons it’s so cost-effective, as you’re able to concentrate on specific gaps and performance behaviors that impact your organization right now. However, shifting to long-term objectives may push you over budget. That’s not to say that you should ditch your objectives altogether. In fact, your employee coaching plan plays a crucial role in long-term growth. Think of it as steppingstones. Every work coaching project allows employees to build vital skills and expand their knowledge. As a result, they’re able to overcome one L&D obstacle at a time. Eventually, they achieve the learning objectives at their own pace and the process is more manageable.
Evaluate The Outsourcing Price Range
How much do employee coaching programs cost? What do content providers charge for each deliverable? Granted, every activity has its own price tag based on the amount of work. However, doing some market research can help you create a more accurate employee coaching solutions budget. Even if you’ve outsourced before, evaluate current vendor rates to see if anything has changed. For example, your last project was three years ago. Since then, your go-to vendor has raised their rates because of higher overhead. Maybe they purchased cutting-edge authoring tools or expanded their team. These factors have a significant impact on their outsourcing fees.
Submit Requests For Detailed Estimates
Online research only gets you so far. You need to submit proposal requests to your top choices for detailed estimates. Your RFP includes the objectives, budget, and timeline. Vendors respond by the deadline so that you can review all your options. The request should also have evaluation criteria and necessary support services. For instance, you absolutely need one-on-one support to implement employee coaching. The vendor must be willing and ready to walk you through the process and help you master the software.
Consider Off-The-Shelf Employee Coaching Programs
Most of us automatically think of bespoke content when it comes to outsourcing. However, you can also purchase off-the-shelf employee coaching solutions to reduce costs. These are pre-built courses or activities that are ready to launch. That said, some vendors do allow you to incorporate your own branding. Off-the-shelf work coaching programs are ideal for bite-sized support too. As an example, you hire a custom content developer for modules, events, and certifications. Then supplement that with pre-built JIT tools. So, check out course catalogs before creating your accurate employee coaching solutions budget.
Link Outsourcing Costs To Measurable Outcomes
Every outsourcing project should be more cost-effective than developing in-house, even if it’s not a matter of money. For example, it gives your L&D team more time to work on other tasks, or it lightens their workload. Thus, you should be able to link every cost to measurable outcomes. In other words, how does this deliverable or vendor add-on benefit your bottom line? Do their advanced support services minimize the learning curve? And how can you determine if it’s really worth the expense? To illustrate, one of the top outsourcing costs is live video conferencing sessions with an employee coach or group events based on shared gaps.
The right employee coaching companies adapt to your needs. They know what it takes to motivate staffers and bridge gaps discreetly. Tech skills and industry experience are also part of the package. But finding the ideal outsourcing partner is usually a logistical nightmare. You need to choose the right keywords, visit every landing page, and look for targeted solutions. And that doesn’t even include the qualification process or contract negotiations. Fortunately, there are ways to streamline your search and maximize value for money. These 7 tips can help you choose the right employee coaching solutions for your remote workforce.
Look For Niche Work Coaching Expertise
Top employee coaching companies are aware of work coaching best practices and industry challenges. So, your outsourcing partner should have niche expertise. In most cases, vendors highlight their specialization areas. For example, they understand the obstacles that your sales staffers face every day. Or how to support your HR team streamline the recruiting process. If they don’t have much experience in your sector, they should know someone who does, such as SMEs or industry authorities they hire for certain projects.
Evaluate Their Training Solutions List
You can use a variety of training solutions in your employee coaching programs, from microlearning to gamification. Thus, you should evaluate all the solutions your vendor has to offer. Every directory listing has a services list. But, you can also check out their website for more info. For instance, they may offer online training solutions that aren’t featured on the checklist. This gives you the opportunity to assess their design skills too. Do they choose style over substance? Is the layout cluttered or cohesive?
Compare Your Top Choices
Top online directories also feature a built-in comparison tool. You can choose up to 3 employee coaching companies and evaluate them side-by-side. This covers everything from pricing options to solutions, as well as ratings and reviews. Keep in mind that you may need to develop a scoring system to declare a winner. For instance, vendors who fall into your price range receive 5 points, while those who offer training needs analysis add another 10 to their total. These scores are based on your top employee coaching priorities.
Prioritize Value For Money
Many organizations focus on the cost. And rightfully so. After all, your vendor has to accommodate your budget. However, value for money should be the most important factor. Does the vendor offer something unique? What does your investment get you? And how does it translate into real-world benefits? Ideally, employee coaching companies should communicate with your team. They should deliver high-quality service and value the customer experience since all these elements enhance the value for money. A perfect example is background experience. The vendor helps you avoid common coaching pitfalls and achieve the best results because they’ve seen it all before. Thus, even if they charge more than competitors, it might be worth the cost difference.
Test Vendor Support Services
Employee coaching programs providers offer different types of support, while some have live chat and phone support. Others keep it more basic with email and contact forms. Ultimately, your team’s experience is the deciding factor. For instance, you may need help implementing new software or mastering the reporting system. Here are a few ways to assess support services before hiring vendors:
- Check out their social media page to see how they interact with followers
- Send an email to test their responsiveness and insider know-how
- Evaluate user ratings and reviews that address support services
- Visit their help center and submit a sample trouble ticket
- Peruse their online knowledge base, which usually features demos and FAQs
Qualify Work Coaching Vendors With Small-Scale Projects
It’s fine to start small. In fact, why not hire work coaching vendors for test projects to evaluate their process, as well as their design talents and niche expertise. For example, they need to create an employee coaching simulation for communication skills. How do they approach the task? Do they deliver on time? Are they willing to make revisions? Small-scale projects also help you compare top solutions. Hire them to develop microlearning coaching tools. Then see who meets all your criteria. Of course, this also involves a contract. Everything should be in writing to avoid confusion. For instance, outline the price, deadlines, and project milestones. Don’t forget to include your objectives and outcomes. That way, you can add it to your JIT library at the end.
Schedule A Live Meet-And-Greet
Some vendors are happy to meet with potential clients and discuss the project, even before you submit RFPs. Just be sure to prep a list of questions beforehand. Meetings also give you the chance to get to know vendors on a more personal level. I’m not suggesting that you pry into their love life, but you can get a feel for their personality and work ethic. Are they passionate about what they do? Are they passionate about what you do? Can they align the content with your brand image? When all is said and done, you need to build a rapport with your outsourcing partner.
All employee coaching program vendors have their standout selling points. While some are masters of customer support, others are IT experts who can help you troubleshoot any problem. Then there are those who understand your niche inside-out. Ideally, you want an outsourcing partner that offers the total package. But how do you find this L&D “unicorn” on a tight time frame? Preferably, without spending half your work coaching budget to qualify companies and compile a shortlist. These 8 free resources have all the vendor vetting essentials you need to make the best buying decision.
Exclusive Employee Coaching Solutions Directories
The top employee coaching program vendors create listings in exclusive online directories. This gives them the opportunity to showcase all their skills and expertise. These listings also feature key selling points, such as support services, training solutions, and background experience. Another notable perk is that you can compare your top 3 choices. Simply click the “compare” box and view their features side-by-side.
Reviews offer a sneak preview of what it’s like to work with the vendor. You can evaluate employee coaching solutions without any risk, as well as assess the pros and cons and then compare them to your work coaching priorities. Review sites should also allow you to verify the use case so that you can qualify vendors that align with your needs. For example, you’re looking for a company that specializes in sales employee coaching, but the reviewer hired them for HR work coaching. On the other hand, a few of the other reviews do center on sales online training. Maybe the negative HR review boils down to lack of experience since that’s not their area of expertise.
There are social media groups dedicated to online training. Many of them feature recommendations and vendor reviews. Also, you can post questions about employee coaching companies and their qualifications. Or, even post your project specs and ask for suggestions. Another place to check is the vendor’s social media page. Are they responsive? How do they interact with followers? And do they seem to know their stuff? For example, they reply to everyone’s comments within a day and they are always professional. A major red flag is companies that lash out at negative comments instead of trying to remedy the situation.
Ratings aren’t as detailed as reviews. However, they usually cover broader evaluation criteria. For instance, you can verify the vendor’s quality of service or communication. There should also be an overall satisfaction score. Not to mention, a high-level performance overview that sums up all star ratings. For instance, they only received 3 out of 5 for achieved results, which prompts you to dive deeper into the reviews. Why did clients have an issue with their service? Finally, check out the likelihood to recommend score for employee coaching program vendors.
Employee Coaching Solutions Portfolios
Every vendor should have an online portfolio. This showcases all their best work, but there needs to be context. For instance, what are the objectives, challenges, and delivery time frames for each deliverable? In some cases, employee coaching solutions providers can’t include past projects. Typically, because they signed a non-disclosure agreement, or it contains sensitive information. If so, they should add samples that feature their skills and expertise, like simulations or demos to highlight their work coaching experience.
The vendor’s landing page or website gives a feel for their brand image, as well as their design skills and aesthetics. Of course, your outsourcing project will reflect your branding. But the employee coaching solutions site helps you zero in on their strengths. For instance, cluttered layouts and grammatical errors are warning signs. They should take pride in their work, particularly their professional website.
RFPs are free, but they do take time. You need to assess your needs. Then write requests that cover all the basics, from scope and budget to support services and tech specs. In return, vendors send you a personalized estimate for your employee coaching plan. They’re also able to determine if there are scheduling conflicts. As an example, they’re already booked for the next 4 months, but you need to launch your employee coaching programs this quarter. You can also schedule a meeting with the vendor after you review proposals just to discuss your concerns or ask for more details.
If any of your employees have had coaching in the past, ask for recommendations. It doesn’t have to be L&D or HR staffers either. For example, a customer service employee participated in coaching at their old job so they can give you the name of the provider and sum up the experience. You can also host a live event to ask for everyone’s input or even create a suggestions box in the LMS where employees can leave ideas.
Employee coaching companies won’t go into a project blindly. They need to know all the details before they commit. But that’s not the only reason to draft RFPs for employee coaching solutions. Requests also help you fine-tune your outsourcing budget. With all the information on hand, vendors can provide personalized estimates, as well as tie all their services to real-world perks. For example, their advanced support services lower the learning curve and prevent launch delays. The question is: How do you draft a stellar RFP that covers all the essentials? Follow these 8 steps to write requests that maximize your online training ROI.
Clarify Outsourcing Goals And Objectives
All successful endeavors start with clear goals and objectives. You need to know how employee coaching fits into your online training strategy, and how it can help you boost employee engagement. These must be measurable goals backed by evaluation criteria so that you can determine if your employee coaching programs are successful. Bear in mind that these objectives are separate from your online training aims. They focus on the outsourcing results instead of performance behaviors or skills. That said, you should also have your work coaching goals in place before hiring a vendor.
Outline Your Employee Coaching Program Budget And Time Frame
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a bottomless budget. So, you need to set a spending cap to keep your expenses in check. This is also the time to develop an outsourcing schedule. It should cover everything from vendor vetting to the final product. In short, how quickly do you need employee coaching solutions and how much can you spend? It’s also wise to expect the unexpected. Leave a little space in your budget and timeline for L&D emergencies. For example, the vendor needs another week to develop the work coaching simulation.
Include Deliverables That Employee Coaching Companies MUST Provide
Every outsourcing list usually has two sides. There’s the section that covers all the “luxury” items. These are the resources that might be nice to have if they don’t push you over budget. Then there are must-haves. These deliverables are crucial to employee coaching success because they target specific gaps. As such, they deserve their own section in the RFP. Include a brief blurb about the deliverable so that vendors know how to approach it. For instance, you need branching scenarios that build decision-making skills. Who is the target audience and what are the objectives? Which performance behaviors are you trying to reinforce?
Add Support Service Expectations
Never underestimate the importance of vendor support. You may not think you need it right now, but it offers added peace of mind. For example, you run into a software glitch and simply call the vendor to quickly resolve the issue. Support even extends to the development process itself. Do vendors accept your feedback and incorporate it into the finished product? Are they able to walk you through their work process and highlight potential challenges? It all boils down to CX and responsiveness.
Highlight Tech Requirements
Compatibility issues are a real possibility, even if employee coaching solutions providers have years of experience. They deliver the content, but it doesn’t mesh with your current learning management system or authoring tools. Another conflict might be the delivery format. For instance, employees can’t access resources on their mobile devices. As such, you need to include tech requirements in your outsourcing RFP. Highlight employee preferences and your current software setup.
Explain Your Vendor Evaluation Process
Your qualification process shouldn’t be a secret. Of course, you don’t have to disclose all your criteria in the RFP. But you should let vendors know what to expect and how you’ll evaluate their proposals. For example, you have a scoring system that includes support, pricing, and solutions. Among other things. They should also be willing to meet with you or answer some follow-up questions. Your top choices may even have to complete a test project because you want to mitigate risks.
Mention Deadlines And Contact Info
Vendors need to know when to submit their proposals and how. Who is their point of contact? What is the proposal due date? Do you have a submission form, or can they send it via email? Additionally, where can they direct their questions? In some cases, vendors require more details about your employee coaching programs. For instance, you mentioned reusable assets in your RFP. What are they and is there a lot of content reformatting involved?
Follow Through With Follow-Up
Reach out to vendors for more info after you review their proposals. You should also stick to your decision-making deadlines. If you need to go over, then let them know about the delay. Keep in mind that vendors need to plan ahead to avoid scheduling conflicts. For example, you follow up with them a month later than expected, but they’ve already taken on another project. Likewise, you should reach out to vendors who miss the submission deadlines. Send an email nudge to see if they’re interested in your project.
Many organizations treat employee coaching as a quick fix; a last resort that’s one step shy of employee termination. However, it should be an ongoing process. Staffers should always have access to support tools for performance management. It may not target long-term development like employee mentoring does, but work coaching is part of that holistic online training process, as it allows employees to identify emerging gaps before they turn into negative habits.
Download the eBook Outsourcing Success: Secrets To Select The Best Employee Coaching Companies For Your Business to bridge gaps and empower your team to achieve their full potential.