Roots, Purpose and ROI of Coaching


Coaching has its roots in the area of sports dating as far back as ancient Greece and the Olympic games. Workplace coaching is much more contemporary.

From the 1940’s to the late 1970’s coaches were usually organizational consultants with backgrounds in either psychology or organizational development (OD). During this period the focus was on organizing was mainly of OD issues.

Then from the 1980’s to the mid 1990’s, fuelled by the increase of downsizing, mergers and acquisitions, and outplacement the field expanded exponentially to include areas such as outplacement, career and life coaching. This was a time when the role of leading began to drastically evolve to take into consideration the pressure and ambiguity of growing global competitiveness. It was also a time of placing much more emphasis on the softer skills of both leaders and managers.

From the mid 1990’s to now the coaching field has continued to grow and shows no signs of slowing down.

Today external coaches come from a multiplicity of professional backgrounds such as business, human resources and teaching.

However, today more and more it is the day-to-day job of leaders, managers and supervisors to see their coaching/facilitating style as fundamental to accelerating the learning, development and full engagement of organizational talent, that is, all the members of the organizational team.


"Coaching is unlocking a person's potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them." - Timothy Gallwey

Learning and development is one of the main purposes for entering a coaching relationship today. Coaching assists leaders, managers, supervisors and high potentials transition into promotions, sideways or global positions. Coaching is also useful to improve performance and skills at all levels of the organization or to assist individuals to achieve career aspirations and goals.

In late 2007 and early 2008 the conducted a study into the Current Trends and Future Possibilities of Coaching. There were 854 North American and 176 international respondents. The participants were mainly in senior to mid-management positions.

The Influence of Globalizing Business

According to a report in Harvard Management Update (2007) the globalizing of business is accelerating the use of coaching. It assists leaders, managers and supervisors to quickly and effectively develop the comprehensive skill set required in today’s face-paced, highly diverse, global organizational environment.

Return on Investment

Correlations are not synonymous with causation.

However, it is imperative when organizations use vital resources to support anything from individual to organizational-wide coaching programs there is a clear purpose for doing so. If this clarity of purpose is missing then so will any view of the program’s success.

Although there is not a universal method for evaluating coaching benefits and success, clarity of how each organization will measure the success of their specific intervention needs to be there from the outset.

Like the Cheshire Cat explained to Alice if the organization and the individuals involved in the coaching program have not thought about where they want to end up, that is, their goals and objectives for coaching, then it won’t matter which route they take.

In my experience, to be most effective in measuring the success of coaching, there needs to be a benchmarking point of comparison, that is, a before and after picture. Some of the elements that could be benchmarked and measured are:

  • Performance indicators
  • Productivity indicators
  • Impact of the engagement/productivity of direct reports
  • Impact on retention
  • Impact of recruitment

This seems to correlate to two of the findings in the American Management Association study cited above.

The first finding was that the more an organization had a clear reason for using a coach the more likely that the coaching process would be viewed as successful.

The second finding was that the more frequently respondents reported using a measurement method of evaluation, the more likely they were to report successful outcomes in their coaching programs.

We must always be mindful that evaluation of any kind should be used as a learning tool both at an individual and organizational level. Evaluation is not at its most proactive if used simply as a means to justify unproductive ways of dealing with employees.

It is best used as a means of developing organizational cultures and environments which support the enhancing of skills already present within an individual or the organization and developing others that may be less apparent.

Two significant areas of ROI reported by the organizational respondents in the study above that were presently using coaching more than in the past were:

1. They are more likely to report higher levels of success in the organizational areas being coached.
2. They are more like to say that their organizations are performing well in the marketplace, in the combined areas of revenue growth, market share, profitability and customer satisfaction.



is the President of Integral Coaching and Meditation, assisting leaders and organizations to achieve strategic aims and objectives, while aligning those endeavours to the goals and aspirations of the people involved.

You may also like:

A Guide To Modern Business Manners
By No Author
$9.97 USD
Find Out More

Filed under Personal Development. Posted by The Corporate Toolbox on