Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: Is Coaching a Fad?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Is Coaching a Fad?

With so many organizations rushing to develop programs for managers as coaches, is coaching turning into a fad?

A recent presentation sponsored by the Human Capital Institute, and given by Peyton Daniel and Anne Doster of DBM gave the statistics that over 80% of the respondents to their survey used "coaching skills training" at least sometimes, and nearly 70% were using external executive coaches at least sometimes. Now, survey samples are notoriously, so we don't want you to conclude that coaching is, as yet, that prevalent. But could it be well on its way to becoming too fashionable for its own good? The perquisite to go with the corner office? The emblem of the high-potential? The consultant's favorite gig?

Before we dismiss coaching and mentoring as another passing fad, let's look at more closer what current research is showing us about executive coaching.

  • Executive coaching is found increasingly on a routine basis for C-level execs, and both less frequently and less often for senior executives; and almost never for non-managers.
  • The primary drivers for coaching are:
    • Derailed executives
    • Enabling capable executives to achieve greater excellence
    • Supporting the development of high-potential employees
    • Improving team effectiveness
  • Executive cite benefits for coaching to include
    • Continuous one-on-one attention
    • Expanded thinking through dialogue with a curious outsider
    • Increased self-awareness, including blind spots
    • Personal accountability for development
    • Effective learning delivered just-in-time
  • Coaching failures are linked to
    • Lack of commitment from the client
    • Lack of clear goals and purpose
    • Client too busy to focus on developmental goals
    • A mismatch between client and coach
    • Client's manager is not involved or supporting
  • ROI ranges from the value of the coaching investment up to more than 500% depending on study cited
  • Successful coaching engagements have:
    • Coach evaluation including
      • Coaching methodology
      • Senior-level business, industry and/or functional experience
      • Chemistry with client
      • Measurement system
    • A willing client
      • Open to increasing their self-awareness and enhancing their personal growth
      • Entering coaching with enthusiasm, interest and a commitment of time
    • Measure the ROI of all coaching assignments using
      • Achievement of agreed-upon objectives, including performance metrics as appropriate
      • Evaluations by client, clients boss, and coach
      • 360 assessments
    • Clear expectations around the process from initial meeting, overall time commitment (typical agreements are 4 to 6 months, twice per month), confidentiality, and management support and involvement

David B. Peterson, in a chapter on Coaching and Mentoring Programs, adds depth to this research report by outlining the major assumptions around effective coaching. His assumptions about positive, proactive coaching are modified and included below.

  • People are motivated to learn and grow; the coach's role is to clarify and engage that motivation
  • Insight is ever-evolving and should be developed through the coaching process, whether initiated with a current situation or a 360 assessment
  • While coach can and does provide feedback, the main goal of the coaching is to enable the client to gather and gain their own insights
  • Coaches should be expert in helping people learn how to change and adjust their behaviors to become more effective, with a goal of enhancing ongoing learning and development
  • Coaching is about achieving results by working on the areas of greatest leverage and payback.

The executive coaching methodology practiced at Read Solutions Groups is then to provide customized coaching that moves iteratively through the following steps:

  • Clarify personal goals, values and motivations
  • Develop insights into what needs to be developed
  • Establish and agree to measures for success
  • Evaluate reasons for and barriers to change
  • Explore or chose alternative ways of behaving
  • Practice new skills and behaviors
  • Develop action plan and measure progress, watching for additional insights
  • Ensure that other people and structures are put in place to support progress and ongoing feedback

So, is coaching a fad? Studies, whether focused on feedback from executives, clients or HR, point to solid returns on the investment of coaching when the systems employ recommendations like those above.

Email us to receive references to additional studies on executive coaching.

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