the correlation between the coa- chee’s self-efficacy and the effec- tiveness of coaching, see Table 2.4 A higher coachee self-efficacy rating

therefore makes a real difference even for the effectiveness of coaching as rated by the coach. However, as mentioned earlier, the bulk of this effect is me- diated by the coaching relationship. In other words, it appears that higher self-efficacy on the part of coachees leads to them achieving better agree- ment on tasks and goals and thereby achieving a greater coaching effect. Finally, one more component was found that may be important in coaching effectiveness, namely the gender of the coach. Te study revealed that female coaches performed better than male coaches, with both male and female coachees (the effect was very small yet significant: correlation 0.05, and p < 0.05). Tis is something that merits further investigation. After all, coaching has often been described as a ‘female profession’, with the ‘midwife’ as its metaphor and the Goddess Athena as its ‘patron saint’.

What do these results mean for coaching practice?

We can provisionally – provided no other studies yield contradictory re- sults – state the following conclusions

regarding the effectiveness of coaching. 

Coaching is the only organisa- tion consultancy intervention known to have proven efficacy.5


Te strongest active ingredient is the coaching relationship and specifically, within it, the agree- ment that coach and coachee are able to reach on goals and tasks.


Self-efficacy of the coachee is also important and appears to contribute to the reaching of agreement on goals and tasks between coach and coachee.


Personality factors and the match between personality factors of coach and coachee appear to be much less

 Recommendations for coaches and organisational sponsors

Avoid external matching of coaching assignments All of these results argue against ‘external matching’ in which, for example, an HR director or manager decides based on CVs which coach is assigned to which coachee. Not only do we find no significant effects of personality factors, but Boyce et al. show compellingly that demographic characteristics of coaches are also not significantly related to effectiveness, so for the time being there is no evidence for matching.6

A better

way to start a coaching relationship is to allow coachees to meet one or more coaches and to assess the relationship themselves, and then to allow them an opportunity to make proper arrangements within that relationship concerning the goals to be achieved and the tasks of coaching.

Optimise the coaching relationship From the early 1990s, the working relationship has been described as the ‘best predictor’ of helping conversations. That finding is clearly confirmed in this research into coaching. Coaches and sponsors would therefore do well to optimise

important, with little effect on the quality of the working relationship between the participants or the general effectiveness of coaching.

It seems that after some 20 years of quantitative coaching research we are beginning to see tangible results that may inform our everyday practice of helping conversations and help to identify factors which determine the effectiveness of coaching.

Erik de Haan is director of the Ashridge Centre for Coaching and Professor of Coaching at the VU University; he can be contacted via

 Correlation coefficients

Self-efficacy of coachee Self-efficacy of coach

this relationship, especially the aspects concerning agreement on tasks and goals. They should pay attention to contracting; provide clarity about intended goals and methods, and negotiate on them; and work in a relational way, which means discussing the emerging quality of the coaching relationship.

Optimise the self-efficacy of the coachee The coachee's self-efficacy has been repeatedly recognised as a key active ingredient in the effectiveness of coaching, and coaches and sponsors can make use of this. It is always good to discuss motivation and ambivalence at the contracting stage. Motivation can be increased, for example by placing more of a focus on the coachee’s own goals or by providing as much clarity as possible about intended goals and methods. It may also be useful to have coachees complete a questionnaire on self-efficacy at the start of coaching. If low self-efficacy is identified, this could be discussed, and developing self-efficacy could be proposed as a goal for coaching.

References 1 De Haan, E., Burger, Y., Grant, A. & Eriks- son, P. O. (2016). A large-scale study of    - 

  - 

  Coun- , 23.1, 1-16.


according to coachee .24

(not significant) The three correlations are significant (p < 0.01)

Effectiveness according to coach

.09 .12

- -  , 161-180.     - 

   -   

22 | july 2016 | @TrainingJournal

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