Research Paper By Bikramjit Maitra
(Executive Coaching, INDIA)
Coaching is a new and evolving profession. On the one hand, it is getting defined by professional bodies and organizations like ICF, ICC which take stock of the progress made in the profession on an ongoing basis. On the other hand, new boundaries are being created by very active and creative set of practitioners of varied backgrounds, beliefs and methodologies. On one end of the spectrum, practitioners include very rational research oriented thought leaders like Marshal Goldsmith and at the other end of it, there are highly spiritual and belief oriented coaching gurus like Betska Barr. While these practitioners and the movements in this emerging profession are making it more defined, there are some basic questions as yet unresolved.
- Is coaching really beneficial?
- Who can benefit from coaching?
- What benefit one can get from coaching?
- Are there some folks who are not coachable?
The answers are getting increasingly more complex and fuzzy. Keeping this in mind, I have decided to focus my current research on a set of simple questions which tries to primarily address the first question while trying to get more clarity for the other corollary questions. It also has two questions which seek qualitative opinion on the strength of coaching and the selection criteria for a coach.
The questionnaire design has focused on one major constraint that coaching as a profession is relatively new to India unlike in countries like US where it may me more than three decades old. So it is not very easy to find people who can talk about effectiveness of coaching from their direct experience in their own career or life.
The value of the answers of these questions will also depend a lot on how one selects the respondents. One major constraint is in corporate India not many are aware of coaching and very few people have deep understanding of it. To overcome this constraint this questionnaire is administered to folks who belong to one of these four categories:
- They are already coaching
- They plan to get into coaching
- They have at least attended one training for coaching
- They are involved in hiring coaches?
The questionnaire has two major parts. Part one focuses on demographic or profiling parameters of the respondent. As administering of the questions was done by approaching people through email belonging to different professional groups where the respondents are known to each other, special importance is given to design of part one in order to maintain confidentiality of the respondents. The first part has four questions which for purpose of ease in tabulation are codified. The results are shown in the consolidated result tab while codes tables are shown in the codes tab of the spread sheet attached as appendix II of this paper.
The second part of the questionnaire has 11 more questions. I will take up each of these questions and explain the reasons for its inclusion and any special consideration for framing it in the particular manner.
- Question number 5 asks the respondent to evaluate his / her achievement against the ambition. Here the success criteria are left deliberately open recognizing the fact that different individual can have different success criteria and measures.
- Question 6 is a simple factual question asking the respondent about his / her exposure towards coaching and is used as a switch for the next set of four questions.
- Questions 7 and 9 are similar and need to be answered on the basis of direct experience or on basis of extrapolating his / her knowledge of coaching on to his / her own traversed career path.
- Questions 8 and 10 and very similar to question 7 and 9 pair, but the focus here is more towards life outside the work space. It may appear that when somebody who has given highest score to himself / herself in ambition fulfillment can think of no further improvement possibility through coaching. In reality this contradiction or confusion is nonexistent as people are requested to comment on performance on career or life front where as fulfillment is against ambition which is not absolute and could have been different because of higher level of performance achievement through coaching over a significant period of time.
- Questions 11, 12 and 13 are forward looking and ask for opinion of the respondents about who can be coached well and what change can be brought about and what can make it more effective. Of these three questions 13 merits a little different handling as it also provides means of including more reasons than listed in the body of the question what can make coaching ineffective. Outcome from this question would be multiple reasons which are popularly believed to be the reasons for making coaching ineffective.
- Finally, question 14 and 15 are intended to elicit qualitative inputs on the strength of coaching intervention and the key factors for selecting a coach. The intention is to take these qualitative ideas and subject them to the process of affinity grouping. An affinity group is a group of answers which are very similar in meaning. Our aim is to come up with 3 representative statements for 3 more populated affinity groups for either of these two questions. These statements will give us good understanding about what is felt of coaching and what makes a coach get more business.