The Coaching Conundrum Report 2016

By BlessingWhite , a Division of GP Strategies

Based on a global survey of 1,800+ employees & managers and an analysis of 3,700 manager assessments, The Coaching Conundrum 2016 is BlessingWhite’s latest analysis of the opportunities and challenges of building a coaching culture. Building on previous coaching research reports it provides best practice and practical guidelines to help organizations craft effective workplace coaching strategies.


Key findings


  • Manager’s top barriers to coaching include time constraints, ‘not having all the answers’ and age differences with those they aspire to coach.
  • A key factor in whether a manager coaches or not is whether they receive coaching from their own respective manager.
  • Managers and direct reports broadly agree on the top actions managers can take to ensure a successful coaching relationship.
  • While organizations set expectations and reinforce the importance of coaching, few provide hard incentives in the form of a bonus or other compensation.


The report explores the dynamics of coaching and provides practical workplace coaching strategies and recommendations aimed at training and organizational development professionals.


This coaching research report presents the following disconnects:


Most managers love to coach, and most employees like to be coached.
BUT… Only 1 in 2 survey respondents in North America and Asia receive coaching
(even fewer in Europe).

Organizations, managers, and employees appear to believe in coaching’s contribution to their success.
BUT… Managers sheepishly admit they don’t spend enough time coaching.

The large majority of managers are expected to coach.
BUT… Only one-quarter have compensation tied to their coaching activities.

Managers who coach regularly describe tangible benefits (e.g., increased team productivity).
AND… Two-thirds of employees who receive coaching say it improved their satisfaction and performance.
BUT… Coaching is often described as an almost-altruistic behavior to support employee needs or a strategy for building a talent pipeline. It is seen as something to do in addition to managers’ daily work.

Managers worry about having all the answers.
BUT… Employees want to be stretched and want help sorting through problems. They don’t want advice.

Organizations and managers talk a lot about coaching skills and processes.
BUT… A trusting, supportive relationship appears to be the most important ingredient in effective coaching.


Key implications and recommendations


Organizations need to avoid pigeon-holing coaching as a talent management practice because too often talent management takes a back seat to achieving immediate business results. They can’t rely on altruistic leadership and must hold managers accountable for coaching employees to higher levels of performance, career growth, and engagement.


Best practices for creating a successful coaching culture include:


  • It’s all about the conversation:  Think beyond coaching skills. (See page 10.)
  • The importance of frequency. (See page 11.)
  • Build a partnership: Take the weight off the manager’s shoulders. (See page 12.)
  • Coach the coaches. (See page 12.)
  • Tackle your next business challenge with a coaching initiative. (See page 12.)


Managers need to stop thinking of coaching as an event they schedule after their own work gets done or a reaction to a performance issue. The role of “coach” isn’t something that they should turn on or off. They need to adopt coaching as a daily leadership practice and focus on creating a supportive, encouraging, and trusting environment for their teams.