Leadership Development

Why Companies Like Zappos & Shopify Are Hiring Coaches

A lot of pro-active leaders work with executive coaches, but a new breed of company—which includes Zappos and Shopify—is extending the benefits of coaching beyond the C-suite.

This sort of leadership development initiative shows an admirable investment in people and culture, and appears to paying off in spades.

Boris Wertz, Version One Ventures
Boris Wertz, Version One Ventures

“Coaching at Shopify began ordinarily enough,” explains Boris Wertz, founder of Version One Ventures. “Cody Fauser, one of Shopify’s first employees, was promoted to CTO. It’s a common situation at tech startups: Cody was one of the best and brightest, but didn’t have C-level leadership experience. Executive coach Cam Gregg began working with Cody one-on-one. Soon enough, Cam began coaching other Shopify executives as well.”

By the time the company had grown to about 60 employees, Cam was hired as a part-time coach. By 160 employees, he was full-time, offering one-on-one coaching for executives, and ad hoc mentor coaching for first and second level managers.

Zappos, famous for its growth-based culture, takes things a step further with several in-house life coaches available to every level of employee.

“Company coaching programs have been shown to increase employee retention and engagement, boost productivity, and overcome performance issues,” the Zappos blog explains. “Employees find opportunities to strengthen their skillsets, gain confidence, and assume more responsibility in the workplace.”

Offering coaching as a employee benefit not only helps show your people that you’re invested in their growth and development, but it could help prevent cultural disasters (like the open letters by former Yelp employees that are circulating Medium).

By pro-actively giving people a resource to turn to when they feel professionally challenged or frustrated—or simply to develop their personal and professional goals—companies can help increase employee engagement and retention.

When you look at the costs of low productivity, turnover, negative reviews on Glassdoor, and candid grievances aired by disgruntled employees, a coach sounds like a pretty sound investment.

Does your company have coaching benefits? Let us know in the comments section below!