What customers want

Organisations want executive coaches to have both a sound track-record in business and psychological expertise, according to research on buying trends in the UK coaching market.

The research, by management consultancy Ridler and Co, found that 95% those organisations surveyed believed that it was important or very important for executive coaches to have had a prior career in business, which included working at a senior level. Some 85% of those polled said psychological expertise was also an important or very important asset for coaches.

This does not mean, said Ridler and Co, that professional training in psychology was a must for coaches. Rather, it said, most respondents wanted coaches to be capable of dealing with challenging relationships with coachees that have a “difficult psychological dynamic”.

But 50% of respondents valued coaches who could provide psychometric profiling services.

Coaches’ continued professional development (CPD) was cited by 95% as very important or important. “Organisational clients clearly expect coaches to invest continually in their learning,” said Ridler and Co.

It added that it would only be “a matter of time” before recognised minimum standards for coaches will emerge. These will cover various issues including CPD, understanding of psychological principles and supervision.

More than 90% of those surveyed said supervision was important or very important. Yet, the 2006 CIPD Learning and Development Survey reported that only 44% of executive coaches received supervision on a regular basis.

As for measuring the return on investment from coaching, only 12% of respondents said they used provable financial measures. More than 70% used 360-degree appraisals, while 54% relied on feedback from coaches. Some 32% said they relied on the subjective analysis of HR and training departments.

The research was based on 70 questionnaires returned by various organisations, including 14 FTSE 100 companies and seven large law firms, plus interviews with senior buyers of coaching and coaches. The survey was undertaken in March 2007.

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