Does coaching work? Is it worth the expense? What about the time it takes? And how much time should it take? These are just a few questions associated with coaching and its effectiveness – or lack thereof.
Since I do coaching, this topic is of immense interest to me and how I serve my clients. But it should be of interest to every executive and manager who seeks to achieve goals, improve performance, build relationships, and excel at leadership.
Don’t get the idea that I’m going to tell you that coaching is the silver bullet you need to solve all your problems as well as the problems of your executive team and managerial staff. Unfortunately, the Lone Ranger was the only one with silver bullets. Sorry, Kemosabe. However, because coaching is a relatively new tool in the scheme of things, research on its effectiveness has been at best sketchy and some of it downright bad. Of course, every study has its flaws and recommendations for the next study team to do things differently, better, bigger, or in more detail. The information for this blog post is drawn from three studies, listed at the end of this article along with apologies to AMA rules and guidelines.
All three studies found that coaching can have a positive impact in several areas. While that may not be too surprising, the study by Jones (2016) suggests that it can be helpful not just at the executive level but at the managerial level as well which has not been the case in the past. Further, managerial level coaching should be separate from other managerial developmental processes. In other words, a separate coach other than the manager’s boss is a better idea.
The Coaching by Numbers (2016) study suggests that CEOs want to be coached and that the CEOs engaging in coaching find it to be both effective and enjoyable. One of the outcomes of coaching that CEOs desire is to be a better teambuilder. Another goal of CEOs is to keep costs down.
Well fear not. One of the outcomes of the Effectiveness of Workplace Coaching (2016) study posits that coaching need not be a long-term contract. The study indicates that neither the number of sessions or the length of the coaching intervention reduce or increase the impact of coaching results. Moreover, there appears to be no plateau of impact of the coaching.
Further, according to Bozer (2012), the effects of executive coaching have a far-reaching impact. The study states: “Overall studies have consistently found a positive relationship between executive coaching and both executive effectiveness and job performance based on multiple perspectives, including self, supervisor, subordinate, human resource brokers and other stakeholders.” While the positive effects of coaching touch many, the feedback of many may not be desirable.
The Effectiveness of Workplace Coaching (2016) study suggests that the coaching outcome is stronger and more positive without multifaceted feedback. Therefore, this makes it unnecessary to involve others and will save time thereby cutting the cost of coaching. On the other hand, involving multiple or blended formats in coaching does prove to be effective. This does not necessarily involve extra costs as coaching can be face-to-face, by phone, and Skype. Saving time and money is music to a CEO’s ears.
What was not music to my ears comes from The Effectiveness of Workplace Coaching (2016) study as the services of an external coach may not be as preferable as an internal coach. Of course, I take exception to this as I feel my coaching clients have made great strides in many areas. Further, I find it hard to believe that a coachee would be willing to open up on some topics as my clients have done over the years. If you have the opportunity to have both an internal and external coach, I suppose you'll have to be the judge.
In summary, the questions at the beginning of this blog have been answered. Further, new and improved studies illustrate that coaching is effective, affordable, and there is no shortage of coaches to select from that would be a good match for any coaching participant as well as the culture of the organization. Yet, according to a study by Stanford about 66% of CEOs do not receive coaching; even though it’s estimated that 100% of CEOs would be open to making changes based on feedback. So, get busy already, call a coach or maybe I should ask, "Do you have any openings for an internal coach?"
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Bozer, G., & Sarros, J.C. (2012). Examining the Effectiveness of Executive Coaching on Coachees’ Performance in the Israeli Context. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring.
Jones, R.J., Woods, S.A., & Guillaume, Y.R.F. (2016). The Effectiveness of Workplace Coaching: A Meta-Analysis of Learning and Performance Outcomes from Coaching. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.
Tkaczyk, B. (Nov/Dec 2016). Coaching by Numbers. Ivey Business Journal.