ILM set out to investigate the extent to which organisations are embracing the development practice of coaching. The survey of learning and development managers, decision makers at 250 large organisations, revealed a number of important findings.

Most companies use coaching as a development tool: 80% of organisations surveyed had used or are using coaching. Another 9% are planning to. The more employees in the organisation, the more likely it is to use coaching.

90% of organisations with 2,001+ employees used coaching in the past five years, but this fell to 68% of those with 230–500 employees.

It is mostly middle managers and above who receive coaching: More people should be able to benefit from coaching in organisations. At present only 52% of organisations make coaching available to all their staff.

By contrast, 85% of organisations surveyed said that coaching is aimed at managers and directors, and middle management.

95% of respondents saw direct benefits to the organisation, and 96% saw benefits to the individual. A broad range of specific benefits were  identified including improvements in communication and interpersonal skills, leadership and management, conflict resolution, personal confidence, attitudes and motivation, management performance as well as preparation for a new role or promotion.

Coaching is aimed at improving the individual rather than the organisation: At its best, coaching addresses personal skills and development, as well as business and work skills. More organisations use coaching for personal development  53%) than for improving specific areas of organisational performance (26%).

On an individual level, though, more organisations (95%) use coaching to focus on business and workplace skills, than personal skills (70%). 

Many organisations still view coaching as a tool for correcting poor performance. However, good coaching is about achieving a high performance culture, not managing a low-performance one, and should not be seen primarily as a remedial tool.

Organisations wishing to maximise the benefits of coaching should focus on increasing its scope and availability to create a coaching culture that permeates throughout their workforce. This means that coaching must be supported at the very top of the organisation, but not limited to senior executives, and that organisations need to devote resources to developing their internal coaching capability.

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