5 Common Myths of Coaching in Organizations

The use of coaching has become more and more important for organizations to achieve their long term and immediate goals. The explosion of the the different areas of coaching such as executive or leadership coaching, team coaching, career coaching, skills coaching, performance coaching, sales coaching, etc. has seen more emphasis from organizations to embed coaching as a way of doing business. However, there are some common myths about what coaching is and isn’t, and this post reveals why it’s important to be aware of them.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In his book, Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others, James Flaherty states that: “Coaching is a way of working with people that leaves them more competent and more fulfilled so that they are more able to contribute to their organizations and find meaning in what they are doing.” If coaching is about developing people, then what are some of the common myths about coaching in organizations?

  1. If a person is already successful, then they don’t need a coach. A person in a management or leadership position typically is a competent person and quite often, they are expected to know how to bring the best out of themselves and others. The truth is every person can get better no matter how successful they are. We all have “blind spots” which a good coach can make you aware of, and support you in making the necessary adjustments you need to make.
  2. You have to be in a position of authority to coach others. In my experience working in and with different types of organizations, coaching is usually conducted by an external coach or someone in a senior management or leadership position. While that approach is extremely effective and beneficial, the truth is coaching can be conducted by people at different levels of authority in organizations.

    In order to sustain the benefits of coaching, a leadership culture must be in place, which means coaching needs to be a top-down and a bottom-up approach. Therefore, lower level employees could use coaching to support their supervisors or managers, if they are familiar with the skills of coaching. The skills of coaching can be applied universally. It can be an effective parenting skill, and it can also help improve your daily communication skills.

  3. You must have a similar background or experience as the person you want to coach. Coaching can be used as a last ditch way to solve problems. Oftentimes, people who are more experienced are called upon to help out. This becomes a mentoring relationship rather than a coaching relationship. The truth is coaches do not have an agenda except for their client’s best interest. There is no doubt that it can be an advantage for a coach to have experienced what their client is going through but that does not always need to be the case. Effective questioning techniques, attentive listening, engaging curiosity and allowing the client to think are some of the skills a coach brings to the coaching relationship.
  4. Coaching should be a short term thing only. In the corporate world, priorities change all the time. As a result, initiatives like coaching, which may have been important previously, can be replaced by the next important thing. The truth is coaching is really about changing behaviours and the more support a person receives while changing a behaviour, the higher the likelihood the new or changed behaviour will stick. Different aspects of a person’s life can be impacted by one change so having a longer term coaching relationship will best support the person through that change. Long term coaching is much more powerful than short term coaching.
  5. Coaching results cannot be measured so there is no way to determine if coaching has been beneficial. This is a very common myth. Performance management systems are usually used to keep track of how a person is performing throughout the year. A person will typically have specific metrics to measure their performance. The argument against coaching is since most of the outcomes are intangible, the rate of return on investment (ROI) cannot be measured. The truth is there are metrics in place that can determine the benefits of coaching. Some of these metrics include productivity improvements, employee retention rates, reduction in costs, and increase in profits. In my book Transition from Manager to Coach, I detail how the ROI from coaching can be calculated.

These are just some of the myths of coaching in organizations which ultimately affects whether coaching is accepted as a powerful vehicle for developing people or not. Coaching has numerous benefits both personally for the individual being coached and for the organization as a whole. In my next post, I will share what are some critical mistakes coaches make when they are coaching people.

Question: Which of these myths do you agree or disagree with? What are some other myths of coaching?

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  • Jane Ransom

    Thanks for pointing out that results can be measured. Knowing exactly what is working is good for the company AND the coach.

    • Neel Raman

      Knowing how to quantify coaching is becoming more and more important so having a formula to calculate the benefits of coaching is certainly helpful. Thanks Jane!