Can Workplace Coaching Impact Organisational Performance?

In this article, we aim to answer the question: ‘Can workplace coaching impact organisational performance?’

We show some recent findings and highlight areas to consider when you look to build the case for workplace coaching in your organisation.  

We then finish up with a recent case study with the House of Commons, to bring to life how their organisation has built an in-house coaching faculty to drive performance.  

The Global Increase in Coaching

The 2020 ICF Global Coaching Study shows the global increase in coaching.  There is now estimated to be 71,000 coach practitioners in 2019, an increase of 33% on the 2015 estimate1.  Interestingly, for the same period, there has been an increase in the number of managers/leaders using coaching skills (+46% increase in 2015).    

What is driving the Increase in Coaching?

We can see that the global uptick trend no doubt reflects the desire of leaders and managers to develop their skills and performance through coaching.  That is reflected in our work with leaders and organisations worldwide, as we continue to experience a growing demand for our coach training and supervision services.

However, there is another shift we have experienced with our clients in recent times, particularly during the pandemic.    

Coaching as a lever to achieve business goals

That shift is that many leaders and organisations we work with now leverage coaching in the workplace to achieve their business goals. It means a move away from coaching as an intervention for just individual or group performance. It shows an increased interest in coaching systemically – where in-house teams of people learn how to proactively – and effectively – coach colleagues and staff to perform at their best.

However, does coaching in the workplace impact performance?

We seek to explore that further with you here.

What is coaching in an organisation, anyway?

Workplace coaching is characterised by “the triadic nature of this developmental intervention (coach, coachee, organization), and reflects the intended outcomes of coaching in an organizational context.2”  Workplace coaching is particularly favoured as the work-based objectives (being behaviour or task-related) are agreed with the three parties and reviewed together at the end of the coaching cycle.

The Outcomes of Workplace Coaching

Workplace coaching, using internal coaches, started to grow in the early 2000’s with three main objectives:

  • To reduce external coaching costs.
  • To recognise coaching as a vital managerial skill and increase and maintain this within the organisation.
  • For coaches to be able to report confidentially, high-level organisational issues to be addressed.

Value to the Individual

The Institute of Employment Studies (IES) found that workplace coaching brings immense value to individuals in many ways, including:

Value to the Organisation

The assumption from the IES study is that the value coaching brings to the individual, will feedback into the organisation. The outcomes an organisation could achieve, were reported as4:  

  • income generation and sales performance increases  
  • cost savings or increases in capacity/output for the same cost  
  • service quality improvements
  • non‐productive induction time minimised by accelerating transitions into executive roles  
  • retention of key people in the organisation who might otherwise have left through being demoralised  
  • sickness absence reduced during change, such as a merger  
“It is incredibly difficult to isolate the specific impact of a coaching intervention on an individual or group of individuals performance.” – Grover and Furnham  

The IES study does not consider the impact of changes in the marketplace, technology, and society on the organisation. That is what systemic work aims to address.  While coaching can help individuals in a variety of ways, it is "incredibly difficult to isolate the specific impact of a coaching intervention on an individual or group of individuals performance" (Grover and Furnham).  

Buyers of coaching services look at a variety of indicators to assess coaching success, including return on investment (ROI), Staff engagement, staff retention, well-being.  Coaching alone cannot guarantee organisational success, and the research into coaching is lagging in terms of clearly evaluating the business outcomes.

Supervision of Internal Coaches

Internal coaches have reported several outcomes ranging from learning more about how the organisation works, to how to tackle internal politics and being more effective in their day jobs 5. Another outcome of Workplace coaching comes from the supervision of internal coaches.  By introducing supervision by trained experts, internal coaches:

  • Are supported in their coaching development.
  • Can learn from an experienced coaching supervisor
  • Can share and learn from each other.

Coaching and Culture Change

However, some workplace coaching schemes are set up with a wider cultural context.  From the supervision group, organisational cultural themes are identified, de-personalised for confidentiality, and reported to the executive.  The executive then commits to the organisation to act on these themes.  This feedback loop, once established, can give valuable insight into employee engagement results, and can save considerable costs of culture and HR consultancy.  It can also help address issues the leaders want to grapple with such as gender inequality, diversity and inclusion and agility.  

Summary/ Conclusion

Today is an exciting time for the right approach to workplace coaching.

With the pandemic forcing employees to work from home – juggling work and home responsibilities – employee engagement and motivation has never been more critical.

A systemic approach to coaching has helped leaders take time to share their struggles, re-evaluate their ways of working and feel re-energised to face the challenges ahead.

What we have found is that the ‘systemic coaching’ approach captures vital organisational culture themes and challenges for the executive to tackle.

That has been essential because it has allowed leaders to identify – with a “finger on the pulse” – the strategic levers that will have the greatest impact on their success.

Workplace Coach Training at the House of Commons – Case Study

Here we have included a link to our case study about our partnership work with the House of Commons, to bring to life how their organisation has built an in-house coaching faculty to drive performance.  

View case study here.

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Written by:
Matt Burdock

Executive Coaching, Culture Measurement, Leadership Development.

November 6, 2020