For a while I’ve been exploring the world of coaching. What is coaching? What happens during a coaching session? Who accesses coaching and why?
There have been a couple of surveys that have grabbed my attention: the 2009 CIPD’s “Taking the Temperature of Coaching” Survey and the 2010 Henley Management College’s Corporate Learning Priorities Survey Report.
These reports have made the headlines as
“90% of organisations are using coaching” (CIPD)
“61% of respondents said developing a coaching culture was one of their top 5 priorities” (Henley).
These figures don’t appear “real” to me. I talk to a lot of different organisations due to my “day job” and I have friends who work in all sectors and at different levels of their chosen profession. To me, these figures seem a bit high.
It’s led me to think that perhaps we (and I include myself in this, as I’m the kind of person who would fill in such suveys) have a misunderstanding about what coaching actually is? Is this because it’s an unregulated field?
On a recent LinkedIn discussion forum, a significant number weighed in to give an answer to the question “How would you describe HR to a 10 year old?”
It was a great question with many diverse answers (is this a reflection on how much our 10 year olds understand?). But if a group of experienced and qualified HR professionals don’t (or can’t) present a unified definition of their profession, what what chance has the coaching profession?
I decided to dig deeper into these surveys, and interestingly both the authors agree: The Henley report wonders if there is “an uncertainty about how to go about it or a concern as to whether the senior team will support [coaching]?”; the CIPD report commented on the high percentage: “This is a very high level and may reflect a re-appraisal and re-labelling of other management practices and programmes”.
From my perspective, the lack of clarity also arises from the fact that some people call themselves a “coach” when in fact they’re not. And there are a lots of people who “coach” who have not had thorough training or even hold a basic qualification.
So in essence, I don’t think that I can get definitive answers to my questions. And whilst the coaching industry remains unregulated, the misuse and misperception of coaching will continue.