Home Research Literature Review Survey of Current Themes in Coaching Research with a Methological Critique

Survey of Current Themes in Coaching Research with a Methological Critique

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The Boston University study sought to determine what works and does not work in coaching engagements. They determined trust to be one of the most important issues for coaches to address, whether the coaches were internal or external. Although internal coaches may seem to have the edge since they can develop a high level of trust over an extended period of time, the coachee may be aware that as an employee of the organization, the internal coach may be required to pass on information to top management.

Executives often feel they have to monitor their words because they aren’t sure exactly how the information will be used by the organization. Some executives in the study said they were more likely to trust an external coach because they would protect the information as being privileged client communication. The fact remains that some external coaches do provide assessments of executives to top management. In such cases, a clear separation of the coaching role and the assessment role is vital.

What Worked Well and What Did Not

Executives and coaches do not always see results in the same way, as reported by the Boston study. The executives they interviewed believed that good coaching was results-oriented. They went on to say the two most important factors in coaching are honest, reliable feedback and actionable ideas. Coaches often said the process was the product. They stressed the value of connecting personally with the client to ensure a good fit. Some external coaches were perceived as trying to sell more consulting time or sell a model of management that did not match the organization’s or the executive’s goals. Other examples were given of what does not work in coaching engagements including coaches giving negative feedback, being too “touchy-feely”, and giving unrealistic or impractical action ideas. Coaches and executives agreed that good listening and solid action ideas were important. Executives suggested that peer and group coaching were valuable and could enhance organizational communication, provide better organizational information, and generate good ideas.

Peer Coaching

While the bulk of research on coaching revolved around executive coaching, there were a few studies that discussed the value of peer coaching. In research conducted by the International Personnel Management Association (IPMA) in 2002, the Benchmarking Committee identified “best practices” in human resource development. One of the best practices identified was peer coaching. According to the IPMA study, peer coaching circles have been helpful in assisting new supervisors to develop strategies to resolve real-life supervisory issues. The study featured evaluation per the Kirkpatrick Model levels 1-3. [10]

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