Does coaching work? Yes, and good coffee helps

Developing people always brings the age-old question of measurement, as business leaders want to know what difference it will make. Rupert Cornford digs down into academia to find out

I was sat having coffee recently with a business owner, someone I know well, and we were talking about coaching.

The power of helping people come to their own insights – for development and progression – with good questions and listening (and a splash of psychology).

Because that’s what you do in a trendy Northern Quarter café, right?

And the conversation turned to outcomes, because everyone wants to know how effective things are, what difference these things make to people.

“How do you measure it,” he asked…

Much of the feedback we get talks about enhanced clarity of direction, renewed confidence, an understanding of what’s been getting in the way (including themselves), or an understanding of how to tackle a problem.

I could go on.

But the real measurement, the stuff which makes people sit up and take note; that’s getting deep down into the academic world to prove it’s no flash in the pan.

In 2016, Rebecca Jones and colleagues published a paper in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, and looked at 17 separate studies on coaching. Yes, 17…

The good news is that businesses can “expect positive performance and impact improvements from investment in coaching”.

Because people are doing individual work – personalised to them – it’s easier to transfer the results straight into the workplace.

We are talking about improved attitudes, performance and knowledge – development of problem solving skills and leadership and technical skills.

Which all lead to tangible outcomes for the business around productivity, reduced conflict, and job performance. Happier people = happier bottom line.

And this can be done by coaches inside and outside the organisation, formal and informal settings, in groups or individuals. We can coach colleagues over a cup of tea, or take part in more structured programmes.

Trust me, I have experienced both.

Coaching is a simple and powerful tool and it sounds like the research is starting to catch up with the reality.

That’s got to be worth a flat white, right?

If you’d like to listen to a podcast on this topic, have a listen to this from the CIPD, which explores some of the challenges around coaching and getting the best from it.