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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In a bold step away from what most executive coaches are doing, world renowned author and executive coach Marshall Goldsmith has a policy that he is paid only for results, not on how much time he spends with a client or on how much a client likes him. Goldsmith believes that neither is a good metric for achieving the kind of positive, long-term change in leadership behavior that a client expects or deserves. To facilitate long-term behavioral change, Goldsmith secures agreement on two key variables before starting his coaching engagements. First he finds out what the most important behavioral changes that are needed and then he determines the key stakeholders who will judge the outcome at the end of the coaching engagement. With these two variables determined at the outset, he then moves on to qualify the executive to ascertain whether he is ready and willing to change. In the fall of 2004, Goldsmith completed research on changing leadership behavior which involved 86,000 respondents. Goldsmith found that the key variable for successful long-term change is not the coach, but the coaching client and their co-workers. He believes that involving team members and stakeholders from the beginning can exponentially increase the value of the coaching process. [19]

Return on Investment

One reason that research studies on coaching are important is to document the benefits of the investment by quantifying a return on investment (ROI). According to authors Sheila Maher and Suzi Pomerantz, “There is an increasing need to document the specific and quantifiable benefits of our service as we enter the market maturity stage.” [20] They believe coaching is a service industry that has reached the mature phase of its life cycle due to the impressive growth that has occurred. The authors state that “no market is infinitely expandable” and that now is the time to “design interventions that will forestall decline, such as refining and relaunching the product to better meet the changing needs of the market.”

Maher and Pomerantz borrow the product life cycle model to explain that coaching must be refined to add additional value and make coaching more responsive to changing client needs. They stated that this will restart the life cycle and hold off the decline stage, where it is possible that many coaches would be forced to leave the profession due to the decreased level of activity. Maher and Pomerantz recommend that more be done to credential coaches, internationalize the profession, and demonstrate a return on investment.

Stroud, a Senior Vice President with Right Management Consultants, reports that 93 percent of executives who have undergone coaching would recommend it to others. They acknowledge personal benefits that range from improved interpersonal skills and cultural sensitivity to a personal development plan and managerial effectiveness. Stroud states, “According to research, the coaching process delivered an average return on investment of nearly 600 percent.” She also states that “Seven out of ten individuals put the value of the return to the company at more than $100,000.” Stroud also found that the organizations reported measurable improvements in productivity, quality, organizational strength, customer service, and shareholder value. [21]

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