Trends in Executive Coaching 2014

November 12, 2014  |   Executive Coaching Blog   |     |   0 Comment

What is going on in the Executive Coaching market? Who is provided with Executive Coaching and for what kind of reasons? How is Executive Coaching evaluated? These are some of the questions that are regularly asked by Executive Coaches and Clients alike.

Here we give you our experience and compare it with two large 2014 surveys. One survey is by Sherpa which is specifically about coaching. The other is the 2014 Learning and Development survey by the CIPD.

Understanding Coaching

Trends in CoachingWe still find that many clients are offered coaching without any real understanding about what it is. The main confusion is whether coaching is a consultancy process where the client is advised what to do, or a process where the coach enables the client to find the right solution to the topic for themself. To be fair if the work is coming from the HR team there is a better understanding of Executive Coaching and how it works.

Sherpa found in their survey of 866 people that 46% of respondents said that coaching was ‘never’ or only ‘sometimes’ defined. There appeared to be much confusion between the terms coaching and managing.

It seems there may be a need for wider communication of what coaching is and how it works.

Who Gets Coaching?

Budgets have become tighter over the last few years and therefore those being offered individually tailored development appear to have reduced. We have found a continuing demand for coaching at the senior level (Executive Committee and their direct reports). Often organisations will provide personal development to Executives by offering Executive Coaching on topics as they arise through the year. At the middle management level we have found that coaching is often provided to those on an organisational leadership development programme. This is likely to be for fewer hours than an Executive and focused on a particular competency or area. A good example would be considering how to use the training content and 360 feedback to build personal leadership capability.

Sherpa found that 60% of respondents said that leadership development was the most common topic area for coaching. They also found that access to coaching was primarily given to Executive Committee members.

In the CIPD survey 75% of organisations said they used coaching. Internal coaches are used in 83% of the cases and external coaches in 17% of the organisations. Again the CIPD report that 46% respondents said that coaching was the most effective for leadership development.

In terms of L&D budgets the CIPD reports that the median training budget per employee has moved down from £303 in 2013 to £286 in 2014.  Our experience would suggest that the level of spend on senior management has not changed, but that the cuts have been made to the funding of development for other staff.

It appears that organisations are continuing to invest in their talented Executives with Coaching to build leadership capability.

Coaching Delivery

One interesting piece of information in the Sherpa survey was that Skype was used by 3% of respondents in 2008. In 2014 it is being used by 35% of respondents. The increase in the use of technology for coaching delivery has also been experienced in our business. It means that high quality coaching can be offered at better rates to a wider group of clients than those at Executive level. For example we are able to offer career coaching to middle management around the world at an affordable rate.

Evaluation of Coaching

This can be a bit of a minefield. Coaching companies can often offer clients sophisticated approaches to calculating an ROI for coaching. It seems that in many cases the client organisation is less interested in a financial return than seeing a change in behaviour. So clients tend not to want to get involved in lots of number crunching. However they are more than happy to find the most objective methods for identifying behavioural change. In most cases this is by instruments such as results changes in staff engagement surveys or before and after results on 360 feedback.

Sherpa looked at this topic in their survey and found that only 11% of respondents used ROI measures. The majority of those in the survey used 360 feedback


Although the last few years have seen tough economic times organisations have continued to offer coaching. It seems that Executive Committee members are the main recipients of coaching for leadership development purposes. However coaching seems to be available in a wide range of organisations for the purposes of staff development. External Coaching Companies continue to need to be clear on their market segment. There is still a strong demand for external coaching for specific employee groups.

Tony Goddard

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