Executive coaching losing its gloss

Jun 20 2007 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Executive coaching might have passed its peak of popularity, according to a new survey, with a third of organizations calling on coaches less frequently now than they did in the past.

Novations Group, a global consulting firm based in Boston asked 2,000 human resource executives about their organizations' use of executive coaching.

Exactly a third said that they were relying less on coaching, with almost half – 48 percent – saying that there was no change. That leaves just one in five – 19 percent – who are increasing their use of coaching.

"According to the findings, markedly fewer companies are expanding their use of coaching than are curtailing it," said Novations Executive Consultant Michelle Knox. "These are the first data we've seen that suggest that use of coaching may be slowing."

However she added that around half of major organizations never embraced the coaching boom in the first place, while it wasn't entirely surprising that coaching was seeing a slow-down after its dramatic increase in popularity over the past decade.

"It's understandable that such enormous growth would slow somewhat, but now it appears there may even be a slight downturn," she said. "No doubt this is due to senior management pressure for greater accountability and cost containment."

However she warned that the flip-side to this cost-cutting would be that less coaching would be made available to managers at middle and senior levels.

"Most of those leaders who in recent years were able to make a successful transition to the next level benefited from coaching," she said.

Earlier this month, research from the UK found that despite spending between £100,000 and £500,000 ($200,000 - $1m) a year on external coaches, two-thirds of companies believe coaching has become an industry riddled with cowboys and the same proportion never measure whether their money is being spent wisely.

In late 2005, the Harvard Business Review found a similar story, calculating that American companies were spending more than $1 billion annually on coaching, yet warning that its effectiveness was difficult to determine.