What does the research show about the science of coaching?

At Beyond the Podium, science informs our coaching work so that we can provide evidence-based services. Relevant research articles are linked below, with a short summary of their findings.


Does coaching work? A meta-analysis on the effects of coaching on individual level outcomes in an organizational context (Theeboom et al, 2014)

Tim Theeboom, Bianca Beersma & Annelies E.M. van Vianen (2014) Does coaching work? A meta-analysis on the effects of coaching on individual level outcomes in an organizational context, The Journal of Positive Psychology, 9:1, 1-18, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2013.837499

Researchers looked at the findings of 18 studies that examined the outcome of professional coaching done by external coaches. They found positive effects on all five factors they assessed; well-being, coping, performance and skills, work attitudes, and goal-directed self-regulation. They conclude that in solution-focused coaching, it is possible to jump straight to identifying solutions without extensive analysis and understanding of the problem. They also found that coaching can be effective even when the number of coaching sessions is relatively small, although there was more likely to be a robust impact with more sessions. Providing opportunities for critical reflection and active experimentation was found to be important, as these lead to deeper levels of learning.


Psychological safety and learning behaviour in work teams (Edmondson, A., 1999)

Edmondson, A. (1999). Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior in Work Teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44(2), 350-383. doi:10.2307/2666999

Team psychological safety means that people confident that “one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes”, and it stems from mutual respect and trust. When it is present, people are comfortable asking for help, admitting errors, experimenting, constructively resolving conflict, and seeking feedback – all of which are necessary for learning and growth. This study combined qualitative and quantitative measures with 51 work teams within a large organization. It found that team psychological safety affects learning behaviour, which in turn affects team performance. It also found that having the right organizational systems and structures (“context support”) on its own could not provide the same level of team learning. Team leader coaching contributed to increased team psychological safety.

Dr. Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School has done almost 30 years of research in this area, and offers the “Fearless Organization Scan” that can be done individually or with a team to assess psychological safety.


Revision and validation of an instrument measuring managerial coaching skills in organizations (Park, S., et al, 2008)

Many organizations are working to shift their management culture from traditional “command and control” to partnership and empowerment. One of the ways this is done is by developing a coaching culture, and by having managers interact with their staff in a coach-like manner. Park et al (2008) revised a previous measurement instrument to construct and validate a questionnaire that can be used by managers and their employees to assess five dimensions of coaching skill; open communication, team approach, value people, accept ambiguity, and facilitate development. The tool was determined to be reliable and valid, and could be used to assess current coaching skills within an organization as well as to provide a measure of effectiveness of training on coaching skills.

The outcome of this research is the “Measurement Model of Coaching Skills“, which is free for use in research and is available to clients on an honour system – clients are asked to make a fair contribution to the authors based on the extent of the project and the revenues realized.

Managerial coaching: A review of the literature (Hagen, Marcia S, 2012)

Hagen, M.S. (2012), “Managerial coaching: A review”. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 24 (4), 17-39. https://doi.org/10.1002/piq.20123

This is a review of the existing research on the impact of managers coaching their staff (as opposed to external coaches working with executives or managers). It notes that this type of internal coaching is a reaction to the need for more empowered and motivated employees. Covered in the review are definitions of coaching, qualitative and quantitative measurement tools, and a summary of the research on the impact of coaching on performance. Findings include:

  • Increase job satisfaction, job commitment, and job performance
  • Increased cost-saving practices by employees leading to organizational improvement
  • Improved organizational commitment and reduced turnover intent
  • Increased team performance, more creative and efficient
  • Improved morale, leading to increased sales
  • Improved project management outcomes, such as reduced duration, reduced budget, reduced time to completion, and increased customer satisfaction

Impact of managerial coaching skills on employee commitment: the role of personal learning (Park, S. et al, 2020)

Park, S., McLean, G.N. and Yang, B. (2020), “Impact of managerial coaching skills on employee commitment: the role of personal learning”, European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJTD-07-2020-0122

(summary coming soon)