Into the Light — Coaching Research Results


Coaches have a responsibility to meet organisational objectives in businesses. To find out if this is really the case, PCI commissioned a global survey of 15,000 people and share the findings here.


Michael Millar


One in three companies in the dark about what their executives are getting from coaching. More than one in every three companies has no idea just what executives are learning when they hire a coach to improve performance, according to new research.


The global survey of more than 15,000 people found that 38% of coaches were given a free reign and the company had no idea whether what was being taught was in line with company strategy. The independent research was split equally across both public and private sectors and was carried out by Christian Thing at Brunel University.

Kevin McAlpin, head of performance coaching at Performance Coaching International, the company which commissioned the research, says there are real dangers for organisations using executive coaching if they are not aligning the individual’s outcomes and aims with the needs of the organisation.

“Rogue coaches infiltrate one line of the business driving their own agenda not the organisation’s, taking the executive and in extreme cases a whole section of the business off in a different direction,” he said. “If they develop a strategy or leadership style that is not aligned to that of the organisation this will reduce efficiency and consequently results.”

Rationale for Coaching

The research was carried out to find out just what individuals hope to gain from coaching. It found:

  • 40% came to coaching to improve their performance
  • 34% wanted to increase their confidence
  • 30% to further develop their leadership style
  • 53% to develop a skill – the main areas of focus were:
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Time management and priorities
  • Presentation skills and image
  • Conflict
  • Handling stress or change
  • 21% for support, time to think or reflect
  • 34% to develop their career or set their career vision

It also asked what organisations who employed the coaches wanted to see as a result:

  • 69% wanted increased performance or profit
  • 21% to develop their leadership capacity, self-awareness, empower staff or improve communications within the organisation
  • 10% a mixture of balance, support, confidence and being happy in the workplace

The survey found that the duration of assignments has been radically shortened by companies wanting results faster than ever before.

Coaching Durations

Whereas traditional coaching periods lasted 12-18 months the survey found that the average time a coach worked with a client was:

  • 17% under 3 months
  • 17% under 3 months
  • 49% 3-6 months
  • 11% 7-8 months
  • 11% 12 months
  • 9% 18 months
  • 3% 18 months — 3 years

To Coach or not to Coach?

The top five reasons why companies didn’t choose to employ a coach were:

  1. Too much time spent away from the workplace
  2. Not sure of its cost effectiveness, or if there will be a return on investment
  3. Too expensive
  4. Concerned it is just a talking shop or cosy chat
  5. Remain unclear as to the benefits or results

The research also found long term coaching programmes tended to have massive impact in the first 60 days of coaching and then the speed of performance improvement or behavioural change reduced over the next few months. Then another acceleration in results occurred in the last 30 days as the programme finished.

The Response

In response to the survey findings Performance Coaching International have developed a technique — DART coaching — that is completely different to any other coaching method available.


  • Detect the key issues, challenges and outcomes the individual needs to focus on
  • Analyse the barriers and blocks to achieving success
  • Re-energise and refocus on the key actions that will have the maximum impact
  • Transform performance directly back in the workplace

“In this warp speed world of faster, quicker, greater and more value, the accelerated DART coaching programme is the answer to your organisations questions about how to maximise performance,” McAlpin said. “The style of the coaching is outcome focused and action orientated to achieve results.”

Explore the DART Programme


About the Survey:

78% of coaching took place in either the UK, USA or Australia with the other 22% from other countries including Czech Republic, Saudi, Russia, France, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Italy, Poland, Turkey, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Malawi and South Africa. The research covered 15,134 individuals split between coaches and coachees and the split was approximately 50/50 between public and private sectors. A wide range of sectors were covered including telecoms, oil, financial services, consumer goods, retail, media, NHS, local authority and central government.