At Genius Within we are committed to evidence-based practice.  Since there is so little research in our field, we often do our own and indeed Nancy Doyle our MD is a PhD student at City University, London.  We wanted to find out more following our evaluation of our own coaching programmes, which showed:

1) The types of issues our clients raised in strategy coaching.

2) A large improvement for line managers and coaching clients.

Pilot study summary

For our follow up study, we teamed up with a County Council and compared coaching (1:1) to workshops, with a control group (no intervention, just assessment).

We measured the following outcomes before, immediately after and 3 months after:

1) Job performance (line managers and coaching clients)

2) Working memory test scores

3) Working memory related issues, such as concentrating in busy places and following instructions

4) Self-efficacy (our belief in ourselves to be effective)

Just as in our evaluation study, we found that 1:1 coaching clients report a large improvement in job performance.  The workshop participants also reported a large improvement, but the control group did not, showing that the intervention was responsible for the impact.

Coachee work performance

Our participants also reports a decrease in issues caused by working memory difficulties, as shown below.  Note how the control group also report a decrease, but the participants’ results seem to improve even after the coaching or workshop has finished.

Coachee WMRS

Similarly for actual working memory test scores, everyone gets a boost at the T2, straight afterwards, but after 3 months only the participants have sustained a result, the control group go back to baseline.  We think that the boost comes from having the assessment – a strengths based testing de-brief with one of our LOVELY psychologists and simply understanding a bit about working memory and how it affects us at work.

Working Memory

The results for the workshop participants was slightly stronger, suggesting that the workshops could have been slightly more effective than the coaching.  There was only one significant difference between the 1:1 coaching groups and the workshops however, as below.


This shows that the coaching had a slightly negative effect on participants.  We think this may be a result of feeling ‘dependent’ on a coach, who then leaves.  However, some workshop participants continued to interact afterwards, which may have made them feel more capable and engaged.  Also, the workshop participants had more sessions, which could also explain the difference.

One major difference between the first evaluation study and this one is that we didn’t find an effect for line managers:

line manager performance

We think this is because:

a) The latest study used volunteers, not genuine clients who were struggling at work, therefore the line managers had less to worry about in the first place.

b) We didn’t invite line managers to sessions or send reports as we normally do in genuine coaching programmes.

We think this shows how important it is to keep line managers involved, as ultimately whether our clients keep their jobs or not depends on the way their line managers perceive their performance.

Overall, we propose the following conclusions from this study:

summary of results

And we have made the following recommendations to our clients:

recommendations for HR and Line managers

And we are coming to the following conclusions about the ‘Return on Investment’ on coaching:

ROI for coaching


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