2013 Organisational Coaching Study

ICF conducted a qualitative and quantitative global client survey and interview research project on the application of coaching in organisations.

The Organisational Coaching Study aimed at exploring when and how coaching is used...

and how coaching can become the preferred resource for the business community.

The design phase of the research consisted of two components: Firstly, 24 telephone depth interviews were conducted with respondents across the globe. The majority of the individuals responsible for making decisions about coaching came from within the Human Resources (HR), Learning and Development (L & D), or Organisational Development industries. Secondly, a survey was delivered to Internal Coaches Community of Practiced Members to gauge how coaching is applied in organisations today.

The 2013 Organisational Coaching Study illustrates how professional coaching takes hold in organisations. In many cases, the research shows that coaching evolves via a trickle-down effect, with a senior leader receiving coaching for themselves and experiencing its benefits firsthand. These individuals then became coaching advocates who fronted the rollout of coaching on a wider scale across the organisation.

According to the 2013 Organisational Coaching Study, most coaching programs use a combination of internal and external coaches. Organisational Coaching Study respondents identified several benefits to using internal coaches some. They found that in addition to having an inherent knowledge and understanding of company culture, internal coaches are readily accessible to the organisation. Some respondents also noted that using internal coaches and providing coach-skills training to staff members helps accelerate the growth of a ‘coaching culture’ within the organisation. Individuals who have completed coach-specific training tend to use their newly acquired skills not only as coaches, but also within their own teams—a phenomenon with a trickle-down effect.

Conversely, external coaches are hired mainly to “do the job”.

They are perceived by the organisation to have more training and tended to have some level of accreditation that internal coaches seemed to be lacking of in some organisations. Besides that, many external coaches are reported to have experience in leadership – this stemming from the seniority in organisational positions held by external coaches in the past.

Results also indicated that coaching decision-makers within organisations place a high value on ethical practice, with confidentiality a top priority. Regardless of whether the firm was using internal or external coaches, ethical standards were a key driver in the selection of the coach and organisations emphasised on client confidentiality within coaching conversations.

Besides that, the study includes a number of other key conclusions and implications for the coaching industry:

  • Coaching is utilised effectively by a variety of organisations, but the extent to which it is used varies widely.
  • The use of coaching has evolved over time indicating that there was no specific event that initiated the use of coaching in organisations.
  • Most organisations take advantage of ‘hybrid’ model, using both internal and external coaches. Some exceptions lie with a small number of large global organisations who used external coaches only.
  • Organisations look at coaches’ reputations and recommendations when making hiring decisions.
  • Credentials, certification, accreditation and academic background were important to some organisations when choosing the ‘right’ coach, but not to all. These factors were treated as an advantage towards the deciding factor.
  • Coaching yields a host of positive organisational impacts, including leadership development and performance, increased levels of employee engagement, reduced attrition and improved teamwork.
  • Although organisations use tools such as 360-degree feedback assessments and employee surveys to measure coaching impacts, formally assessing and quantifying the return on investment and success of coaching remains a challenge.

Hiring a coach is a significant investment of both time and money, so an important first step is to determine whether your organisation is ready to commit to coaching at this time. Whether your organisation develops a comprehensive, in-house coaching program or contracts external coaches on a temporary basis, coaching is growing and being implemented throughout organisations globally.