Are You Focused on Your Coaching Tree?

During a sports business career development panel I had the pleasure of moderating earlier this year, the discussion turned to professional “coaching trees”. For those unfamiliar with the term: in sports, a coaching tree is a lot like a family tree. Head coaching “godfathers” are the heart of each tree, while the branches represent all the coaches that “godfather” mentored, those coaches’ trainees who moved on to coach their own teams, and so on.

The coaching tree exists in business as well, and I find it bears mentioning, largely because as managers in their 30s and 40s rise through their careers, they are sometimes too focused on themselves to develop the people around them. It’s also not uncommon for such managers to get territorial with their employees, and take it as an insult when an employee wants to move on to another job or opportunity.

If you feel you encourage your employees to take the next step outside of your organization, I applaud you. Not enough people do. For those who don’t:

Building your coaching tree starts with making time to have an open dialogue with your employees, and talking with them about their development, career goals, and objectives. Those conversations should include an honest assessment of what you and your organization can offer in terms of career development help. They can also servce as a way for you to communicate your expectations of what a particular individual should work on if s/he wishes to be considered for a promotion (either internally or externally).

Formally, you can meet either quarterly or semi-annually to discuss progress with the members of your staff. Allow your team members to share anything on their minds – an open environment for discussion will make for a more effective and impactful conversation. Relying on a single year-end review is not recommended.

Ideally, the regular review process gradually becomes informal, and your employees feel comfortable approaching you about career development without having to schedule a formal meeting.

As a leader and manager, it is up to you to make your employees’ career development a priority. And who knows: perhaps you will become the Bill Walsh or Bill Parcells of your organization!

Carolyne Savini, Managing Director



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