Summary

This work was inspired by a lack of consultancy effectiveness in our country in general, as assessed by the clients. There is a widespread feeling that consultants just do not deliver what is expected from them. In many projects consultants are not able to respect basic principles of dealing with people as with free and independent personalities who are well able to be experts on their own business. Practice as well as management literature show, that if people are treated in a directive way, they tend to refuse solutions given them from outside.

I felt that clients are worth of a more respectful form of help from consultants. That is why in this dissertation we investigate the effectiveness of one of the non-intervention consultancy methods – a nondirective coaching. Some comparisons with more directive approaches - such as mentoring, counselling and expert consulting - are also made, but the main aim of this work is to find conditions under which nondirective approach can be efficient and offer guidance how it should be offered to bring clients required benefits.

The research has been conducted on the experiences of a group of 24 coaches (listed in an Appendix No. 1) representing different nondirective schools and of their clients. The primary sources also include material from my own coaching sessions as activities of a new consultancy division of NEWTON Group and data collected during my two-year-long training in coaching as well.

We did not concentrate on comparing the differences among separate nondirective coaching schools but rather I tried to generalise those conditions for delivering effects that they all have in common. We also made some comparisons with directive approaches in theoretical part of the work and found that they radically differ, which has a strong influence on their impacts.

Due to the social features of our theme an inductive qualitative method was used as the main research tool, based on non-structured interviews namely with coaches and partially also with their clients. Inductive approach allowed us to study specific effects nondirective consultancy had on clients, as reported by coaches. Interviews with clients themselves, that followed afterwards, provided us with necessary independent feedback. But I did not have time to talk with many clients that would not be at the same time coaches as well. So we need to be aware of the fact, that their experience from coaching is different from laics and their evaluation of coaching effectiveness thus might be a bit tendentious.

To help me cope with enormous bunch of collected material, I used as my main research methodology the Grounded Theory that - thanks to its unique coding features - allowed me to distinguish important and not so important findings and present results in a systematic way. The research conducted like this by substance surely could not avoid certain level of subjectivity, but I believe the collected data can be treated as a representative sample of what is happening in the realm of nondirective coaching in the Czech Republic at this time.

The conclusions of this dissertation concern only nondirective coaching, so they cannot be generalised for all types of consultancy and are also limited by the spectrum of coaches and clients in the research sample. The coaching sessions usually concentrated on business themes in the areas of either growth of personal effectiveness, improving interpersonal and managerial competences or solving some professional problems. The most important limitation of this work is the fact that evaluation of coaching effectiveness was done mainly by coaches themselves and only in a very low measure by other independent clients, except for coaches in their roles of coachees.

The main results of the research can be summed up like this: We were able to generate a theoretical model of coaching methodology, putting together what all the nondirective schools have in common. This model from an Appendix No. 2 shows not only the most important features of an efficient nondirective coaching, but at the same time also describes the way, how the research findings are presented in this dissertation, including numbering of chapters.

We saw that the most important conditions for achieving effectiveness of any coaching intervention are real use of a nondirective approach and competence of a coach. As further aspects influencing effectiveness have been found: existence of a specific requirement of a client company from coaching, positive attitude of the coachee, proper use of coaching methodology, establishing a trusting relationship between a coach and a client and agreement on the contract – the objectives that are to be achieved. But from all the interviews and observations a coach’s personal maturity in using nondirective approach arose as a key and vital factor for achieving considerable outputs. So the main part of this work considers from all the angles coaching competence as the major prerequisite for effectiveness of coaching.

Concerning effectiveness itself we came to a conclusion, that it has to be measured mainly by coachees themselves to carry responsibility for achieving their targets. This measurement usually consists of comparing their needs and original requests with finally achieved results. After a good coaching session clients often spoke about surprisingly much bigger effects, than they originally expected – going deep into their personality structure, interpersonal communication and business achievements. They also shared that thanks to coaching they really achieved absolute majority of the professional goals they contracted.

We can see that coaches believe in what they do, have good experiences with effects of their work, even if they are in positions of coachees themselves. Based on these findings we finally came to a conclusion, that nondirective coaching is without a doubt powerful method for improving personal and company effectiveness, but in the Czech conditions it still needs be fully discovered and recognised.

For that to happen we need well-trained, professional and experienced coaches who know how to work with assignments and requests not only of the coachees themselves, but also of their supervisors. Their key knowledge is a nondirective approach itself. An absolute must for them is personal maturity, ability of self-reflection and enjoyment to work with people.

My work on this dissertation did not finish with these recommendations for coaches and companies, but there are also some real outputs already:

With several colleagues we initiated establishment of the Czech Association of Coaches as a professional body that will encourage quality of coaching in our country. In preparing its founding materials like vision, mission, definition of coaching and coaching competences I could already use some of the results of this work.

On top of that, inspired by the need to train and equip new nondirective consultants, with some representatives of several nondirective coaching schools we are just preparing a common and comprehensive course, aimed at proper training of managers and coaches in all the competences, that are described in this work. So this research report can serve also as a list of minimum professional requirements for the graduates.

The third real outcome of this dissertation is that I was invited to present the main results of this research at the conference on coaching that will take place in Prague in autumn. This will provide me with an opportunity to share the conditions for coaching effectiveness with wider public.

At the end I feel that this work brought what it could, when we take as a given limitation that our main sample were coaches themselves and their experiences with effectiveness of their own work. If I had more time I would deeper investigate the specific methodology of some of other coaching schools, except for systemic (e.g. Gestalt), and talk with more long-practicing professionals including some of the best coaches abroad.

But if I had another opportunity to work on a similar research project, I would especially like to shift my emphasis from interviews with coaches to the vital experiences of their clients. I would probably describe less coaching stories but I’d rather go much deeper into them. My aim would be providing complete case studies including feedback of long-term effects and results of coaching from the perspective of people also in a broader environment of the client.

So if we meet each other next time, we will be treating more stories from the other side of a bridge…

Milan Bobek, 2003