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Durham University

Human Resources & Organisational Development

External Coaching Framework


Occasionally senior academics and senior managers have turned to coaches to help them explore their behaviour and preferences in order to help them to develop as leaders and managers. A number of individuals have also requested coaching to help them make a successful transition from one role to another.

To ensure that coaching activities across the University are co-ordinated, cost effective and meet the needs of both the University and the member of staff, the HR-OD Team has a Coaching Framework. The framework consists of a number of external coaching professionals each with experience of coaching managers and academics within the Higher Education sector.

“The coaching sessions I signed up for were by far the most useful and productive form of professional development I've received at Durham. Working with my professional coach over many months has been an incredibly rewarding and positive experience. I would strongly welcome future opportunities to work with this coach and also encourage others to take up the opportunity to work with a professional coach.”

Professorial member of staff and former HOD

Accessing Coaching

Identifying the need

Coaching will be identified as a suitable personal development intervention for a member of staff through dialogue between the member of staff, the relevant Divisional Head and the HR-OD Team.

The member of staff can initially meet with Claire Hunter, Senior Organisation Development Manager. The purpose of this meeting is to ascertain the needs of the member of staff and to discuss the drivers behind the coaching request. The Divisional Head will be contacted to ensure that they approve of a coaching approach.

Selection of Coaches

Based upon the outcomes of the above meeting and the needs identified, the HR-OD Team will send the member of staff the CVs of a number of coaches within the framework. The coaches will be chosen based upon their area of expertise and their experience of working with the level of client requesting coaching.

The member of staff will choose a coach, with whom, based upon the C.V., they feel they can develop a coaching relationship.

The initial "Chemistry Check" meeting

It is important that both the coach and the member of staff feel that that they can work together over a series of meetings.

An initial "chemistry check" meeting will be arranged by the HR-OD Team between the member of staff and the chosen coach.

The purpose of this meeting would be for the coach to discuss and clarify the needs of the member of staff and to scope the proposed coaching assignment. The meeting would also be an opportunity for both parties to explore their compatibility.

Based upon the outcomes of the "chemistry check" meeting the coach will produce a fully costed outline of the coaching assignment and will send this to the Senior Organisation Development Manager for consideration. This proposal will be shared with the member of staff and the relevant Divisional Head to ensure that it is likely to meet the needs identified.

The costs of the "Chemistry Check" meeting will be met by the HR-OD Team

Financing Coaching

The cost of a coaching assignment can vary as it depends upon the coach employed, the needs identified, the coaching approach (for example, whether it involves any psychometric tools) and the length of the assignment.

Before the coaching assignment is authorised the member of staff's department and/or division must ensure that funds are available to meet the cost of the coaching assignment based upon the costed proposal provided by the coach.


At agreed times the Senior Organisation Development Manager will contact the member of staff being coached to determine whether the coaching process is beneficial. The content of the coaching meetings will not be discussed and confidentiality will be maintained at all times.

At the end of the coaching assignment the member of staff will be asked to review the coaching process to determine the effects on their behaviour and performance as a leader or manager to help to determine a return on the investment in coaching. The review of the coaching assignment will be discussed with the relevant Divisional Head without breaking the confidential nature of the coaching assignment.