June 14, 2021

The “what” and “why” of coaching

Companies are quickly finding out what coaches have always known: coaching is a powerful tool for well-being and development. Gone are the days when coaching was remediation for underperforming executives or a reward reserved for perceived “high-potential” employees who fit a specific and exclusionary profile of success.

Coaching has always been for everyone — at least in the sense that anyone can benefit from the practice. Today, increased access via technology and innovative business models mean coaching can be for everyone in a more literal, tangible sense.

Knowing how coaching differs from the practices and ideas it sits adjacent to — including mentorship, traditional management, training, and therapy — can be helpful in understanding its effectiveness.

What is coaching?

At Bravely, we define coaching as:

a solutions-oriented, collaborative process of creating strategies and building skills to move forward and thrive at work

Every word in that definition informs our philosophy and approach, including:

  • The coach-employee relationship. Coaches approach the employees we serve as collaborators. Unlike mentors, who impart experience and expertise to their proteges, coaches provide value through genuine partnership. The person receiving coaching isn’t being prescribed solutions but rather using coaching as a tool to identify their own solutions.
  • The outcome. Coaching supports people in building momentum and moving forward. While therapy faces the past and explores how past events and patterns impact present behavior, coaching looks forward, helping the recipient define their ideal future and take meaningful steps toward it.
  • The access model. Bravely’s coaching is entirely self-directed — people identify actual pain points and opportunities in their work lives and work with a coach at their own pace to develop and problem-solve however they need to. This model contrasts with training, which relies on a set curriculum to achieve a predetermined outcome.
  • The confidentiality promise. Bravely sits outside the walls of the recipients’ company, and we maintain the confidentiality of our coaching sessions. For sensitive topics, this adds the benefit of being able to speak freely without fear of repercussion. More broadly, it gives people a lower-stakes opportunity to articulate their needs and desires before bringing them to their manager or HR — resulting in more productive internal conversations.

Equitable access to coaching — providing access to everyone at every level of the organization, alongside interventions for harder-to-reach populations — allows the impact of coaching to multiply across an organization and reach people it otherwise may not have.

Why coaching?

The total value of coaching is difficult to quantify. Yes, there’s a measurable (and considerable) boost on retention, engagement, and productivity. Still, it’s the intangibles — improved relationships, greater confidence, and stronger connection to one’s work — that drive the true impact.

For the company

Several studies have quantified the results of coaching:

  • SHRM reported findings from an International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Human Capital Institute (HCI) study: 51% of respondents whose organizations had strong coaching cultures reported revenue above comparable companies in their industry.
  • The same survey found that employees were 62% more likely to self-report as “highly engaged” in companies with strong coaching cultures.
  • A Gallup survey comparing traditional management styles to management styled after coaching found that workers who knew their strengths saw higher sales by about 10-19% — indicating that coaching’s strengths-based approach has bottom-line results.
  • Finally, a study commissioned by the ICF and conducted independently by PricewaterhouseCooper asked companies about their return-on-investment from coaching found that 86% recouped their investments. Even better, almost half saw an ROI of at least 10x, and 19% saw an ROI of 50x or more. (Notably, this study precedes Bravely and our democratized approach, which we feel allows for even greater multipliers. If just one employee stays with your company due to using Bravely, the investment has already paid for itself.)

For the individual

Coaches emphasize self-discovery, action, accountability, and follow-through. Because the employee self-selects into coaching based on their own needs, outcomes can vary from one person to another. The possibilities are as endless as people are different. To name just a few:

  • Increased self-confidence
  • Increased motivation
  • Lower stress
  • Reinforced communication skills
  • A sense of control 
  • An action plan toward achieving goals
  • Time management skills
  • Self-awareness
  • Organizational awareness
  • Empathy
  • Smarter goals
  • Greater engagement
  • A sense of empowerment
  • Feeling more optimistic

People who regularly engage with coaching are more satisfied in their jobs. They communicate more effectively, take greater responsibility for their success, are more open to learning and growing, are more equipped to problem-solve, and more resilient and agile.

In its toolkit Coaching in a Business Environment, The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) names several applications of coaching. These include:

  1. Management development. Managers achieve that status by succeeding as individual contributors, but developing and supporting a team of employees is a unique skill set. New and experienced managers can refine those skills with the guidance of a coach.
  2. HR development. HR representatives often carry the burden of supporting the “difficult conversations” at their companies, from addressing misconduct to steering an overnight switch to work-from-home. The outside perspective of a coach can help these leaders get the support they need to support their people.
  3. Inclusion. Members of marginalized groups are more likely to use Bravely than their peers, and access to Bravely helps them advocate for themselves. At all levels of their organizations, people turn to coaching to develop strategies for addressing microaggressions, communicating across cultural differences, and contributing to inclusion.
  4. Transition. The catalysts for many coaching sessions are, in one way or another, a form of change: a promotion, a new manager, a company reorganization, increased responsibilities, or a new stressor in someone’s life affecting their work. The skills and support offered by coaching can ease these transitions.

Bravely is on-demand coaching for everyone

At Bravely, we know we can have the greatest impact on people and their companies when coaching is accessible to everyone. The self-multiplying, rippling effects of coaching mean entire companies benefit from individual increases in confidence, performance, and engagement.

We designed our Momentum Method to drive meaningful action. In this model, coaches foster empathy, challenge and support thoughtfully, and clear a path to success.

Coaching is the ultimate individualized employee support and development solution. With the right coach on their side, anyone — from a new hire at their first job to the most experienced executive — can better move forward and achieve their potential.

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