The world of work is complex and constantly changing. Fast-paced and high pressured, it places increasingly tough demands on employees throughout organisations. Consequently, leaders and managers at all levels need a broad portfolio of management and leadership tools and techniques to do their job effectively.

Coaching is a particularly powerful tool in the modern workplace – one that has proven to be a highly effective way of developing individual and organisational performance by unlocking capability. At its best, this key management tool can deliver considerable benefits, helping managers get the most from their teams, boosting employee engagement and developing high performing workplaces.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that coaching is increasingly widespread in organisations. Yet there is little objective research to tell us for certain how organisations approach the use of coaching. What, for example, is behind the rapid growth in the use of coaching? How and why do organisations use coaching, and what can we learn from them? What criteria are used to select coaches, and how is the effectiveness of coaching measured?

The Institute set out to provide some definitive answers to these and other related questions. Our findings establish the extent to which organisations are embracing the coaching concept, and identify and share coaching best practice. They provide valuable insights for employers looking to maximise the effectiveness of coaching, and for coaching professionals about the market they serve and the expectations of their customers. 

Our report found a widespread culture of coaching among UK businesses, resulting in measurable benefits to both employer and employee.

What we found 

Who uses coaching 

80% of organisations surveyed had or were using coaching. Another 9% were planning to. The more employees in the organisation, the more likely it is to use coaching. 

At present only just over half of organisations make coaching available to all their staff. Whereas 85% of organisations said that coaching was aimed at managers and directors, and middle management. An inference is that more people should be able to benefit from coaching in organisations.

Sourcing coaches

A significantly higher number of organisations source coaches internally than hire them in. However, external coaches are used primarily to coach senior managers. Interestingly, there is more rigour over selecting external service providers, and benchmarks of quality are still required.

Support for internal coaches

Coaching is a discipline, a complex practical skillset that requires hands-on experience, evaluation and refinement. A greater focus on developing internal coaching capacity is needed. Most organisations recognise the value of coaching qualifications. A third of organisations do not offer any support or development for internal coaches.

Benefits

The benefits that are obtained are well recognised and varied. Almost all organisations believed coaching as a development tool benefited the organisation, and even more believed it benefited the individual.

At its best, coaching addresses personal skills and development, as well as business and work skills. More organisations use coaching for personal development than for improving specific areas of organisational performance.

Many organisations still view coaching as a tool for correcting poor performance. However, good coaching is about achieving a high performance culture, not managing a low-performance one and should not be seen as a primarily remedial tool.

Impact measurement

Approaches to evaluating the effectiveness of coaching are inconsistent. Some organisations simply use internal appraisal systems and only two-fifths undertake ‘specific evaluation of coaching interventions’, while just under half assess against business KPIs and goals.