Friday, 22 May 2009

Choosing a business coach – the influence of gender on the coach-coachee matching process

Coaching has enjoyed substantial commercial growth, but empirical support for its effectiveness is thin. Nowhere is this more so than in the matching process between coach and coachee. A study that we have just completed describes the results from a coaching programme in which coachees were asked to reflect on and justify their choice of coach. Initial, qualitative results, suggested that female coachees favoured the choice of female coaches, partly as a role model of business success. Male coachees tended to justify the selection of a female coach as more approachable for the discussion of sensitive, personal issues. A minority of male respondents also displayed sexist attitudes in their comments on the selection process. Subsequent quantitative analysis of the data, however, revealed no bias towards the choice of either female or male coaches. While the results show no statistical significance in gender choices, for a minority of coachees, gender is a compelling factor in the selection process. For people such as HR professional who commission coaching, it would seem appropriate, then, that coachees are offered a gender mix of coaches from which to choose.

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