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Home > News > April 2004 > 29-Apr-2004

Study: ‘Coaching works but it could be better'

Against a background of increasing demand and heightened expectation, the provision of external coaching services across the UK has soared over the last few years.

The spotlight is now on coaching and, as a result, there has been an influx of providers offering a wide variety of solutions to organisations who increasingly see coaching as a key component in their development strategy. There is ample evidence to show that coaching works and yet, at the same time, there is growing confusion in the market around the quality and value of provision. How do organisations determine who will meet their requirements most effectively? How do they distinguish one coach from another? How do they ensure their chosen coach will contribute real value?

This is the background for ‘The Coaching Study 2004', a study by the University of Central England and Origin Consulting. The study, undertaken during early 2004, set out to discover how coaching contributes value to businesses and organisations across the UK.

Over 100 organisations have contributed to the research and including many household names such as Royal Bank of Scotland, EMI, Unilever, Cadbury Schweppes, Pfizer, and Debenhams.

According to the authors, the overall message from the research findings is that ‘Coaching works but it could be better'. The study also revealed a growing awareness and appreciation of the potential value of coaching and, at the same time, a recognition of its limitations. Some key points which have emerged are:

  • There are a significant number of medium/large sized organisations not using coaching due to a lack of understanding of how to measure its return and value
  • Size matters…the larger the organisation the more likely coaching is being used in a variety of situations
  • Use of external coaching services is far more established in the private than public sectors
  • The majority of coaching is provided at executive/management levels in support of personal development and performance improvement
  • There is variable procurement and contracting practice
  • Sourcing coaching providers primarily comes from referrals and prior awareness
  • Coaching is a complex, intuitive and unique buy compared to other professional services
  • The majority of coaching services are provided by established coaching firms and professional networks
  • Certain key criteria have emerged as being critical to the buying decision, in particular… personal style, cultural fit, a good track record, coaching experience and professional standards
  • At the same time a number of factors have been identified as key determinants in producing positive business and individual outcomes; these include showing evidence of professional development, coaching qualifications and having a structured approach
  • There is a strong expectation that coaching demand and usage will increase in the future and, with this, a need for greater rigour, standardisation and consistency
  • There is clear evidence that a more systematic and structured approach to the use of coaching will lead to greater value

A detailed account of the research, together with specific guidance for both providers and users of coaching, is now available in the report, ‘The Coaching Study 2004'. To order a copy of the report (price £30), please contact Jerry Arnott at Origin via e-mail:

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