SURVEYS & RESEARCH - Summary Of Research Findings

Coaching Survey

In our "Management Development - What Gets the Best Results?" survey coaching was identified as one of the best ways to develop people at work. However findings also raised doubts over managers' ability to carry it out. So we conducted further research into "What makes an effective coach?" - after all, how can we expect managers to be committed to and effective in coaching if we are not clear about what it means to be an effective coach!

Firstly we wanted to be clear about what is meant by coaching. Many of our respondents explained coaching as an enabling, facilitative process, aimed at helping the coachee to learn and find out how to do things for themselves, as opposed to teaching or instructing. Based on our experience and the responses we defined coaching as:

  • user-centred - focused on the needs of the coachee
  • targeted - focused on specific goals/objectives
  • workplace - focused on factors relating to workplace success
  • performance enhancement - focused on increasing performance

The key output of our survey was a set of competencies defining the behaviours required to be an effective coach. This encompasses some areas of fundamental skills required by all coaches, and other competencies that appear to be more organisationally specific, and as such may warrant tailoring for application within individual organisations. The competency framework describes three layers of behaviours, as illustrated below.

Coaching Diagram

Our findings highlight that coaching is a complex activity requiring a high-level of skill in a variety of areas. In particular, high levels of what may otherwise be labelled as "Emotional Intelligence" appear to be required for successful coaching. It seems to us unrealistic to expect a manager to simply be able to coach, without any support or development in the skill areas required for this.

Furthermore, a key factor in the success of coaching as an initiative is whether those required to coach (and be coached) feel that this is a worthy use of their time and effort. This needs to come from the top of the organisation - senior managers need to be seen to coach, and to reward others for doing so! For as long as managers' objectives are purely task-focused, they are unlikely to see "softer" skills such as coaching as a priority. Managers need to be recognised for effective coaching of others. The introduction of a set of competencies against which to assess their performance may again be of benefit here.