The Project Team
We are pleased to announce a forthcoming Stimulus Paper on the impact of coaching in Higher Education. The project is funded by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and the Stimulus Paper will be available in 2017.
The use of coaching in Higher Education (HE) has grown considerably in recent years and this has been evidenced, to some extent through the literature, and through the growth in informal and anecdotal discussions between practitioners via a range of professional forums, such as the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, Organisational Developers in HE Group and the Staff Development Forum. The growing use of coaching to support the development of staff in Universities has required a significant investment in terms of time and money and yet the practice of evaluating the impact of that investment appears to be spasmodic, as does the use of coaching itself. The sector does not appear to have fully explored the value of coaching, if any, and neither does it have the tools to do this at the moment, although there appears to be a presumption of value in most cases.
The Diamond Review has prompted the HE Sector to re-examine its practice and to identify ways in which it can be more effective and yet efficient. The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) therefore commissioned this Stimulus Paper in order to explore the investment that HE is making in its workforce through coaching and to:
(i) Help to address the evidence gap on how coaching is used and valued in organisations, and most specifically in HE
(ii) Provoke thought leadership and debate within the sector, specifically on how coaching is evaluated
The aim of the Paper is to provide a resource for University leaders, commissioners of coaching, coaches, coachees and researchers to prompt institutions to consider what questions they need to ask when initiating, developing, implementing and evaluating coaching interventions, set against the wider policy/efficiency landscape, to ensure coaching effectiveness for individuals and organisation.
The project was designed to explore the following questions:
(i) How is coaching being used across the UK HE sector?
(ii) How is coaching valued in HE?
(iii) How do we know if coaching works?
(iv) How is coaching impact measured in organisations, and in HE?
(v) Provide a provocation for HE that relates to the value of coaching; how it measures its impact; and to what extent coaching has the potential to drive, or support, improvements in efficiency and effectiveness in HE.
In order to address the questions the following methods were used:
Our thanks go to all of the institutions and individuals who have contributed to the formation of the Stimulus Paper so far and, in particular, to the thirty respondents to the survey and to the Universities of Hertfordshire and Westminster and to Bournemouth, Leeds Beckett, Liverpool John Moores and Ulster Universities who provided case studies. If you would like to find out more about how coaching is being used in some of these institutions, please visit the coaching case studies on the LFHE website at:
Planned Outputs for the Stimulus Paper
Part One of the Paper will present the findings from a review of the literature on coaching in organisations and the ways in which it is defined and evaluated, including some of the instruments and models being used by the profession in order to evaluate coaching.
Part Two will provide a snapshot of coaching in Higher Education and use findings from the HE literature and data collected through the project to highlight how coaching is defined, used, valued and evaluated in the respondent institutions. The findings show that the purposes are varied, although what connects them is the spirit of an individually focused and supportive activity with a view to enabling staff within their organisational contexts. Coaching is valued for both tangible and less tangible benefits, and for the opportunity that it creates to develop coaching cultures, and thus more empowering styles of leadership in universities. Evaluation does exist, although the practice varies across the sector.
The findings from Part One and Part Two are used to create a ‘Taxonomy’ of Coaching that demonstrates some of the factors that can impact on coaching, for example: the purpose of the coaching; the environment in which it takes place; the characteristics of both the coach and the coachee; the relationship between the coach and coachee, and between a variety of stakeholders; the coaching format and approach. A variety of administrative factors, such as the coaching contract; how coaching is targeted; managed and evaluated can also impact on the coaching. The literature highlights some of the more tangible benefits of coaching, such as those that are associated with: goal achievement; improvements in performance; measurable through multisource feedback; and those with harder metrics such as increases in promotion or retention; or where a Return on Investment can be calculated. Intangible, or less tangible, benefits from the reviewed literature include those that are more associated with: changes in perspectives on the self; improvements when working with others; enrichment in wellbeing; enhancements in skills and behaviours; and increased commitment to, or engagement with, the organisation.
Part Three of the Stimulus Paper will explore the theme of coaching evaluation. In particular it develops six Provocations designed to stimulate discussion around the theme of coaching evaluation and introduces a series of challenges in the pursuit of a frank and authentic exploration of the topic. In particular they will challenge our thinking on:
Each of the provocations will highlight some initial recommendations for consideration – twenty three in total. Although these arise from a process of challenge they are intended as practical and realistic steps that might be taken by the Sector to advance the work in this area.
The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education www.lfhe.ac.uk/
If you would like to know more about this Stimulus Paper prior to its publication please contact Colleen Harding, Project Lead, firstname.lastname@example.org or Telephone: 01202 965082
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