Focus: People Management - Sector access to affordable coaching

Graham Willgoss,

An executive service is offering management training at a reduced cost.

An executive coaching service designed to support senior managers and chief executives during the first three months of a new job aims to target fundraisers and new recruits to the voluntary sector.

The service is run by life and business coach Trevor Cousins, himself a former fundraiser. He says new employees need to have a transition strategy that gives them the best chance of success. Without this, he adds, they can often fail to achieve the desired results.

"Making a job transition is a complex business, however confident or experienced you are," he says. "You are entering an unknown situation with high expectations placed on you. It involves relationship building, knowledge gathering, managing expectations and fitting into a new culture."

Mike Caudrey, a consultant and trainer at Blue Spark Consulting, believes there is "an undoubted need" for coaching for those who are new to a senior position or joining a different organisation.

"But it is often only after a new employee has established him or herself in a new role that they have the confidence to ask for training," he says.

"A receptive employer will invest in coaching and support from an early stage, to help their new and existing staff realise their potential."

Cousins believes people would like to work with an executive coach but find their organisation will not meet the costs. So he is offering coaching at a reduced rate to persuade voluntary organisations to invest in staff development.

Acevo's 2004 remuneration survey, based on the responses of 450 chief executives from the voluntary sector, shows that although organisations recognise the importance of professional development, they are struggling to make significant funding available for it.

The survey shows that 87 per cent now invest funds in training their chief executive, up from 75 per cent the previous year. However, the annual median sum spent by voluntary bodies on training for their employees is £700 a head, a slight drop from the previous year's figure of £725.

Caudrey says: "It is next to nothing, especially when you compare it with the amounts private-sector companies are prepared to spend on their top people."

Gail Scott-Spicer, deputy chief executive of Acevo, agrees: "Organisations expect more and more from their chief executives, without a corresponding increase in the training or remuneration available to them. Investing in the sector's leaders is not optional."

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