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Executive Coaching’s Effectiveness Questioned


Only one-quarter of the companies providing employees with executive coaching find it very effective, according to a national survey of senior managers and executives at 230 organizations by AMA Enterprise, a division of American Management Association. And while nearly two-thirds of organizations regard coaching as somewhat effective, 12% consider coaching ineffective.

Generally speaking, how would you evaluate the impact of coaching delivered at your organization?
Very effective 26%
Somewhat effective  62%
Ineffective  12%

“The mixed grades for coaching aren’t unexpected when compared to the effectiveness of other executive and leadership development opportunities,” observed Sandi Edwards, Senior Vice President for AMA Enterprise, which offers advisory services and tailored learning programs to organizations. “A big challenge for development professionals is to make sure all forms of learning are assessed critically, so the coaching numbers shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. But they’re a reminder that measurement and accountability may not be taken for granted.” 

“While coaching is more often seen as a benefit for high-potential managers,” Edwards said, “there’s sometimes a perceived stigma, that the coaching may be an intervention to solve a problem. In any case, it’s key that the organization is clear about what’s expected with such initiatives as coaching, leadership development or stretch assignments. In this way, their value may be seen not only by participants, but also the organization at large. Visible outcomes are essential to the success of both the initiatives and the organization’s growth.”

Compared with other development tools (e.g., on-the-job training, workshops, formal courses, stretch assignments, functional training, etc.) how often does coaching deliver a measurable business impact?
More often 35%
About as often  37%
Less often 28%

The survey, Edwards noted, also explored difficulties occasionally involved with coaching. “The coaching process may be ongoing, time consuming or open-ended, and that seems to be the biggest issue. Assessment, however, seems a lesser concern.”

In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge facing the effective delivery of coaching?
Conflicting priorities/time constraints 32%
Lack of sponsor/manager support and involvement  17%
Lack of resources to provide coaching needed 16%
Difficulty assessing its effectiveness 14%
Lack of accountability 13%
Difficulty choosing effective coaches  8%

Edwards advised that everyone engaged in the coaching process – coach, individual and training professional – be unambiguous about the needed results and committed to delivering them. “Coaching demands the same determined commitment by all parties as does any other successful venture.”

AMA Enterprise conducted the online survey in July and August 2011 in order to explore policies and practices with respect to executive coaching. The survey population consisted primarily of senior-level business, human resources and management professional contacts drawn from the AMA database of contacts.

With more than 85 years’ experience and headquartered in New York, American Management Association (www.amanet.org) is a global leader of comprehensive talent development. AMA Enterprise, a specialized division of AMA dedicated to building corporate and government solutions, transforms enterprise-wide talent to fuel a culture of innovation, high performance and optimal business results.

AMA is one of the most widely recognized leaders in business training, having provided corporate training solutions for over 95 years. From leadership, communication and managerial training to sales, customer service and analytical skills, AMA has developed a vast array of content and training solutions to help individuals and organizations achieve business results . Each year, AMA delivers thousands of seminars and courses across the United States. With courses offered in a  classroom near you or live online, AMA is a flexible, convenient resource for all of your organization's talent development needs. AMA also offers customized solutions based on your specific talent development requirements.