HR Hartley: Beware life coach masquerading as mentor

I should have spotted the warning signs in the MD’s office.

Just before Christmas he installed a desk-top fountain, replaced the decaying potted ferns with expensive flowers and began sporting a bangle on his left wrist. “It’s got energy- and mood-enhancing properties HR,” he told me. “You should try it.”

Well so has a good night’s kip, I thought. Not that I’ve had too many of those since he told me coaching was top of his training agenda – and therefore mine. It seems our dear leader has spent some “quality” (ie company) time with a life coach.

Just picture it: Carol Caplin meets Tom Peters on some cushioned couch in an over-designed room bedewed with the aroma of essential oils.

He wants me to “energise” our corporate coaching programme.

I didn’t know we had one, although I’ve seen some strange individuals pulling up in pricey cars and swanning around as if they owned it. Many could, judging by the odd stray invoice for one-to-one interpersonal skills coaching which lands in my in-tray. I used to send them to the department in question. But not for much longer – when the MD speaks I must act. So I’m drawing up a corporate coaching policy as a first step towards my grand coaching plan.

This will include the usuals: drawing up controls; measuring impact; deciding on suitability; assessing individual needs; briefing the coach; costings, etc. There’s one special condition: no one wearing scarves, bangles bow-ties is to be hired. Period.

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