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Comment on the European coaching survey: An opportunity missed?

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Myles DowneyMyles Downey of the School of Coaching voices his disappointment with the scope of the European Coaching Survey.






Any effort to understand what is happening in the world of coaching must be welcomed. That said, in this survey there is quite a small pool of respondents – 35 only – so it is difficult to come to any real conclusions about the state of coaching in Europe.

It is slightly disappointing to notice that there is nothing about the quality of the coaching, the results being achieved and the return on investment. It feels like the data has been grouped around a number of themes and I'm not completely sure what the validity of those themes are. For example, there's a lot of conversation about the national approaches to coaching. I am far less interested in national approaches to coaching and more interested in other areas; predominant models, approaches, and what the coaching is intended to achieve. For instance, is coaching about performance or is it about development? There seems to be a bias towards coaching for development in many places, which is in the long-term a disservice to coaching.

"It is slightly disappointing to notice that there is nothing about the quality of the coaching, the results being achieved and the return on investment."

There is also a sense in the document that there should be some European approach to coaching. I'm not sure why that should be. The survey talks about the European model being somewhere between US and Asia. Europe is indeed geographically between US and Asia, but that is fairly meaningless. The article suggests that coaching grew up in the US. I'm equally not certain that is true. Whereas some of the initial disciplines that led to coaching, such as the Inner Game, NLP or various philosophies emerging from the post-humanistic movement did indeed come from the states, they mostly led into personal development rather than into the corporate world. It is my belief that the UK was the seat of the development of business coaching.

Another thing to question is the concept of coaching culture, which I believe is naïve. Certain cultures will be supportive of coaching and coaching may be symptomatic in a culture, but it is only ever a part of a culture. In the UK in the late 80s and early 90s we saw a real problem where people tried to dispose of notions of management and replace them with notions of coaching, and that did huge damage. We need to lead, manage and coach. Creating a coaching culture can be dangerous if it seeks to exclude the needs and the aims of the organisation.

"The background of many of the respondents may not have been quite so business-focused. In the UK in particular, we are entering a new phase which is driven most importantly by more intelligent buying, and not before time."

My final piece to say is that the background of many of the respondents may not have been quite so business-focused. In the UK in particular, we are entering a new phase which is driven most importantly by more intelligent buying, and not before time. The senior buyers in HR roles in larger organisations are becoming increasingly wary of delving into secondary networks to find recommendations for somebody who appears to be a good coach. That is no longer sufficient. What they are seeking is to develop a cadre of coaches that they trust or build firm-to-firm relationships with small coaching houses where it is much easier to do things with a good return on investment and more possible to create a standard approach. At The School of Coaching we welcome these developments.

Myles Downey is the founder and managing director of The School of Coaching. For more information go to: www.schoolofcoaching.com

See how we covered news of the European Coaching Survey.

News Comment:
Would you like to comment on recent news of relevance to the training community as Myles Downey has done here? We're looking for more people to comment on training issues: on evaluation, coaching, mentoring, NLP, learning and development and training issues in general. If you've got something to say then please get in touch. Email me at [email protected]

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