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UK — Millions spent on coaching without a business purpose

01 September 2010

While multi-millions of pounds are spent on coaching across the UK, nearly one in seven organisations (15%) admit they have absolutely no measurements in place to assess the impact of their programmes.

A new survey from Hays Senior Finance, working with expert coach/mentors LeaderShape, shows that coaching is often undertaken without evaluating the return on investment. The survey also reports that two thirds of businesses (68%) fail to use coaching directly to address corporate objectives and they confess that outcomes are often simply referenced at a personal level.

According to the data, the majority of coach-mentoring programmes are for individuals, with nearly three quarters (72%) deployed to develop individual talents or address personal worries.

Chris McCarthy, Director at Hays Senior Finance, says "in far too many cases companies are leaving it to individuals to set the framework for their own coaching or mentoring with little or no reference to business needs. They then fail to check the standards of their programmes and show little concern for the outcomes. Support can be extremely effective when a professional starts a new role, but it is essential it is carried out in the right manner by people who understand the specific needs of these individuals."

The survey showed that if a senior finance professional leaves within three months of starting a new role not only is there a financial cost, but it dampens staff morale. The vast majority of respondents (96%) agreed that these appointments would benefit from confidential support during this period.

More than half of UK companies responding to the questionnaire said they wish to expand their business coaching provision. And budgets for coaching continue to rise, with 85% of companies reporting that their business spend will hold firm or grow next year. 37% of survey respondents expect a small increase this year and 2% expect significant budget uplift.

One major concern revealed by the survey is the lack of ongoing professional development for providers. Internal coach-mentors are the preferred choice by those who use coaching, with 73% of companies using in-house support. However, 16% of coaches and 28% of mentors do not receive any training or support themselves, while companies describe nearly one in three (29%) team or group facilitators as untrained.

Chris Gulliver from expert coach/mentoring faculty, LeaderShape, commented "this is a very expensive missed opportunity for UK Plc in fast-moving times. Increasing amounts of money are being spent on coaching as a universal panacea but many companies have no comprehensive overview or sense of purpose."

"There is a clear lack of framework and training given to those who are delivering many of these programmes with the obvious outcome that they simply don't understand how to use coaching effectively and spend money wisely. In what other area of business would money be laid out with so little thought to evaluating its impact?"

Gulliver added "coaching is not regularly applied where it can often be most effective, within the leadership teams. And it is clear that many services are being given to staff, often in difficult situations, by people who are themselves untrained and unsupported. We believe it is essential to upskill internal providers by training them in a range of coach mentoring and facilitation options. It is equally important to track observed outcomes against business objectives. Otherwise businesses could waste time and money and miss the opportunity to boost success."



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