Academic literature confirms the importance of business coaching on career and personal development. Such power leaves no excuse for companies not to invest in such a solution. However, only a high-quality business coaching format will deliver all the intended benefits. For example, individuals trailing in emotional intelligence will face obstacles in achieving desired change through average or less-than-average business coaching.
By evaluating relevant studies and literature, we have identified the six following norms to a business coaching crafted for effectiveness.
Joo Joo included the one-on-one component in the very definition of business coaching that went as follows: a one-on-one relationship between a professional coach and an executive (coachee) to enhance the behavioral change of coachees through self-awareness and learning, and thus ultimately for the success of the individual and organization.
In this sense, solutions presented as business coaching but not delivered one-on-one may not be business coaching solutions in the first place. Van Oosten adopted the Joo’s definition “due to its saliency and comprehensiveness” „aufgrund ihrer Prägnanz und Vollständigkeit“. She went further, adding the element of an external coach as a component of proper, highly-effective business coaching. We will treat the externality element of effective business coaching further below.
Through one-on-one business coaching, implementing the highly efficient strategy of bite-sized learning becomes possible. Such a strategy suits with the dyadic supportive relationship a highly effective business coaching should manifest. That is the optimal relationship for self-awareness and self-directed development of the coachee.
2. Compassion for sustainability
The positive change triggered by excellent business coaching should sustain over time. A business coaching solution becomes meaningless if the change outcomes it generates do not last long. That means, during exceptional business coaching, learning has to happen at a deep level. The triggered change should apply to thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, not just manifested behavior. As Kolb & Boyatzis iterate, a productive business coaching experience is one of an epiphany (or “discovery”).
Excellent business coaching results in targeted behavior change internalized by the client as salient and meaningful. Such learning solutions appear in literature as coaching with compassion (not compliance), meaning coaching for sustained, desired change. The benefits of such an approach even impact the physiological dimension, literally. Business coaching for sustained change boosts the immune system and enables neurogenesis (deeper neural pathways) in a person. Then it gets cyclical. Deepening neural pathways enables individuals to leverage their best selves and experience a magnified sense of cognitive, perceptual, and emotional openness.
3. Reliability of the business coaching relationship
Another study revealed that a quality coaching relationship (or coach-coachee relationship) is one of three attributes of a productive coaching experience. Boyce et al. confirmed this conclusion by relying on a study conducted in 2008 by the American Management Association. That study showed that 65% of incomplete or terminated coaching assignments happened because of ineffective client-coach relationships. Current literature provides broad elements that contribute to an effective coach-coachee relationship. The scholarship usually prescribes five must-haves of a business coaching relationship. Such must-haves are the genuineness of the coach-coachee relationship, effective communication, comfort, facilitation of development, and trust and positive confidentiality.
For a coaching relationship to be at its best, companies should rely on external coaches rather than internal ones. In external business coaching providers, managers find the safest environment for navigating the challenges of organizational life. The sessions between an external coach and manager focus on development untainted by internal politics. Coachees trust an external coach more and faster than an inside coach.
Such a relationship with an external coach works particularly best for senior leaders. Seniors commonly suffer from the so-called CEO disease. Indeed, as managers climb the company ladder, they increasingly get detached from informal social networks. The introduction of an external coach lets positive behaviors among seniors flow unrestricted. Coachees become more open intellectually, emotionally, and physically, which leads to cyclical benefits at both an individual and organizational level.
5. High-quality connections
An effective business coach-coachee relationship results in high-quality connections (HQCs). According to Dutton and Heaphy HQCs have high emotional tensity, carrying capacity, and generative connectivity. The HQC broadens the potential for learning and self-awareness. HQC, as a result of an external business coaching intervention based on trust and empathy, leads coachees to more openness, deeper engagement in self-reflection, and expansion of self-awareness. These outcomes are all elements of the so-called ideal self (a concept part of the self-discrepancy theory of Higgins and the intentional change theory of Boyatzis ). Accessing properties of the ideal self (who you want to be) initiates a dynamic process that triggers self-directed, enduring change.
6. Fewer coaching sessions
The number of coaching sessions in business coaching depends on the specific provider or platform. In all, we can group business coaching offers into two groups. Such groups include either an offer of less or equal to five business coaching sessions or an offer of more than five sessions. Theeboom et al., also cited earlier, indicated that empirical results show no clear sign of one group better affecting the effectiveness of the coaching intervention.
However, the same study revealed nuances concerning specific coaching outcomes. Notably, business coaching solutions with more than five sessions were beneficial to both coping and self-directed regulation. On the other hand, business coaching implementing five or fewer sessions was superior in impacting outcomes such as work attitudes, well-being, and performance and skills.
Due to the high monetary cost of more coaching sessions, companies should prefer few-session business coaching. Adopting fewer business coaching sessions will strengthen companies in a sustainable, efficient, and resource-saving way. Such a format, advocated by Sparrks, brings significant changes in a shorter period through the targeted use of resources, time, and money. Business coaching implementing five or fewer sessions will provide more value than high-number sessions.
Business coaching for effectiveness - Conclusion
A low-quality business coaching compromises the effectiveness of this solution. Thus, managers should consider six ultimate criteria when choosing a business coaching crafted for effectiveness. 1. Business coaching has to be delivered one-on-one. 2. Compassion for sustainability must prevail. 3. A reliable coach-coachee relationship must flourish. 4. The coachee has to be external. 5. High-quality connections need to thrive. 6. Last but not least, a few coaching sessions are better than many.