The Working Environment
The results are a bit difficult to interpret, since we don’t know if the respondents are focusing on their own personal workplace or on the workplace in which their client’s work. In other words, is their own coaching agency or organization inclined to be toxic? If they are in private practice as a professional coach, is this working environment unpleasant and counter to their development as a coach? Conversely, are they focusing on the challenging environment in which their clients work. Do they find the place toxic in which their clients tend to operate? Is that one of the reasons why they were called in to do some coaching? We don’t know which is the case, but this certainly is an important distinction to be made between one’s home environment and the environment of one’s clients.
Regardless of the distinction to be drawn, there is an important implication to be drawn from these survey results: some coaches are facing major challenges regarding their own care and feeding. If the source of their discontent is the environment in which their clients operate, then what is the lingering impact on the coaches? Are they “infected” by the environment of their clients? Do they need to take care of themselves, while taking care of their clients? Why are some coaches quite positive about the environment in which their clients work, while others are quite negative? Will our demographic analyses yield any insights?
What if the toxicity is to be found in their own coaching home? How do some of the coaches who responded to our survey avoid burnout if they face challenges in their own professional practice setting? We may be getting some beginning idea about why professional coaches (as I noted in the second report) often work in isolation and operate, as “autonomous professionals.” It might have something to do with the environment in which they are working. This could be their “home” environment (the office or organization in which they work) or the working environment of their clients. We can’t tell from this set of data.
Influence of Direct and Indirect Experience
Professional coaching has often been described as an “in the moment” and “here-and-now” experience. Some of this emphasis on direct, immediate experience can be attributed to the origin of many coaching schools and perspectives in the environment of personal growth training and workshops (originating in the 1960s) and in the environment of organization development consultation with its emphasis on feedback, disclosure and experientially-based team building. Whatever the origins of this emphasis, we see it alive and flourishing among the coaches who responded to these two surveys.