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Cohort Coaching:
Talent Investment at Scale

Engage and Retain Your Talent with Cohort Coaching

Cohort coaching is due for a moment in the spotlight, considering that thorny elephant in the room: likely recession. Organizations are dealing with a tight labor market and the need to hold on to key talent. Then there’s the continuing adjustment to structural work changes resulting from the pandemic. As companies re-evaluate their talent strategies within this strange and uncertain market, cohort coaching can amplify the investment by scaling leadership development and support efforts (and dollars) across the organization.

What is Cohort Coaching?

Cohort Coaching - The Creative Executive

Cohort coaching is bespoke development and support for a group of people at an organization brought together horizontally. Because cohorts consist of people of similar seniority who often have shared concerns, challenges, and pain points, this type of coaching offers an added level of targeted support, co-learning, and accountability.

Cohort coaching differs from team coaching, which engages vertical teams who work together daily. While the subject matter might be similar, the tactics and learnings will differ. Take conflict resolution. Team coaching might look at ways to recognize and diffuse conflict in real time, bringing in specific team dynamics. Conversely, cohort coaching might deal with universal strategies for managing diverse people, identifying conflict styles, and learning to mentor direct reports in navigating conflict.

What a Cohort Might Look Like

  • High-performers transitioning from individual contributor roles to managing people 
  • VPs tasked with leading their teams through restructuring or strategic change 
  • Directors who show C-Suite potential and have expressed interest in further development 
  • Senior managers up-skilling together to further a cultural directive or strategy, such as coaching tactics for next-level people management or driving action around new DEIB goals
  • Cross-departmental leaders from an underrepresented group (Black, LGBTQ+, etc.) participating in a leadership acceleration program

How Cohort Coaching Works as a Talent Investment

Everyone is under a lot of pressure, but managers are particularly overwhelmed. We aren’t just relying on the stats either, we’ve heard this over and over from many of our clients. Unlike individual contributors, who, by many accounts, thrive in the hybrid environment, managers struggle under the weight. The quick evolution to hybrid work changed managers’ roles overnight, often without the support and training they need to succeed. It’s not a question of if they’ll leave, it’s when. But, even if they stay, there’s this: people quit managers, not jobs. Disenchantment from a lack of support, growth, and engagement at one level of an organization cascades down.

Cohort coaching can be part of the antidote for this cascading disenchantment. Providing learning and support to leaders with acute needs is a great way to show them you see and hear them. The cohort will take their learnings and foster more resilient, engaged teams.

Builds Cross-Functional Trust + Support

Cohort coaching brings together people across the organization. This serves to break down silos and develop deeper cross-functional relationships, lateral peer support, and accountability. Leaders confronting a particular management challenge know they are not alone and that there are people they can reach out to for help and insights.

Increases Engagement + Job Satisfaction

Engaged employees feel greater ownership of their jobs, stay in those roles, and direct their teams to more successful outcomes. Cohort coaching provides an avenue for leaders to affect change in how they approach their job, mentor and lead their teams, and tackle the most important issues in the organization.

“Future-Proofs” Your Leadership

A group of managers learning and growing together as a cohort provides them with development opportunities that will last their careers. This skill-building effort also raises the quality and scalability of your organizational leadership, the ability of those leaders to accomplish (and inspire) great work, and the sustainability and success of your business overall.

The Stakes are High

The stakes couldn’t be higher for your people or your business. Cohort coaching is a mutually-beneficial talent investment strategy to consider to retain and engage your high-performing talent and boost performance. Through cohort coaching, your talent receives much-desired development and avenues for growth. And your organization expands its leadership competencies across the company. Together, you create the leadership culture you need to ride the waves of uncertainty and set the stage for future growth.

What does cohort coaching look like in practice? The Creative Executive created a year-long leadership program for Directors and VPs at a global advertising agency that included 48 hours of group learning and training, qualitative assessments, and individual coaching. Read more.