Last Updated 29 Jun 2021

Coaching – HRM

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One of the critical challenges faced by human resource management (HRM) is the development of employees to meet the needs of the changing market and operating environment of the organization. The contribution of the HR department lies in its constant evaluation and assessment of the employees within the organization and suggests appropriate strategies to overcome performance issues, address skills gap, and plan manpower requirement. Various strategies are adopted by managers to implement and promote human resource development (HRD) to enhance the competency levels of employees and improve organizational efficiency.

Organizational development and growth is strongly aligned with employee development and this is evident in the way learning improves the organization’s ability to manage work processes more efficiently, creating a better work culture through employee empowerment and collaborative management. Formal and informal training experiences that include on the job experience, coaching, mentoring, management development and basic skills training can have deep impact on employees’ development. The level of training provided to employees is based on existing human resource management practices. The extent of mobility between various teams and work processes requires transfer of skills and knowledge to enable effective utilisation of existing staff. Coaching and mentoring strategies have assumed increased significance in present business environment owing to the ease of application involved and the effectiveness of the method in transferring skills and knowledge within the organization.

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The paper provides a detailed insight into the various perspectives associated with this HRD process within the organizations and its impacts on organizational performance. The paper explores the various methods and research techniques that can be effectively utilized in HRM to analyse the significance and implications of adopting coaching as a HRD strategy within business enterprises. For the sake of clarity and focused approach to the research methods, the paper provides a literature review on the subject matter that seeks to present a theoretical framework attached with the subject matter.

Purpose of research

Research activities in HR concepts and strategies can help organizations in assimilating useful and relevant information related to the proposed strategies and its intended impacts on organizational performance and productivity (Anderson, 2004). “Research is used to justify why certain HR practices are beneficial and is also used to evaluate the success (or otherwise) of HR initiatives and activities” (Anderson, 2004). The process helps the organization in identifying the various parameters and variables that have an impact on the organizational culture and analyzing strategic alternatives that can help in improving the performance levels and increase employee commitment levels.

Organizations are exposed to the influence of number of factors and forces within the operating environment that drive productivity, performance, and work cultures. Each of these variables is strongly inter-linked and has a strong bearing on the competitive strengths of the organization. The purpose of this research study is to gain an in-depth understanding of the coaching strategy as an innovative method applied in the field of HRD. The study involves an overview of the strategy applied within organizations, its impact and scope of applications. The research establishes the significance of the process in harnessing human resources to its optimal levels and highlights the benefits of the strategic alternative in comparison to other HRD models applied by organizations. The next section provides a literature review on this strategic alternative and HRD tool to gain a theoretical perspective on the subject matter.

Literature review

“Theories and models seek to explain things, to make things intelligible, to suggest why things are the way they are, or to describe why they happen in the way that they do” (Anderson, 2004). The theoretical perspective hence provides a conceptual framework of various theories and models presented and analysed by researchers and practitioners. The literature review provides an insight into the HR concept and analyses its applications and effectiveness from various perspectives to enable an improved understanding of the coaching process.

Coaching has been identified as one of the oldest form of learning and employee development strategies used by business enterprises across the globe (Mathis & Jackson, 2007). Coaching has been defined as an activity “through which managers work with subordinates to foster skill development, impart knowledge and inculcate values and behaviours that will help them achieve organizational goals and prepare them for more challenging assignments” (Luecke, 2004). It is the process of shaping employee behaviours and skills through a constant exchange of feedback and training given by the supervisors or line managers. It is an informal mode of learning adopted by organizations to transfer work skills and process knowledge to newly inducted candidates or training employees on other work processes. This type of learning involves a continuous process of learning by doing approach (Mathis & Jackson, 2007).

According to Shermon (2008), “The objective of coaching is to build skills and relationships in order to achieve continuous performance improvement. Therefore, performance coaching is appropriate for all employees regardless of their performance rating”. Coaching is a two-way process and is most effective when it happens within a trusting relationship. It is an interactive process that relies on collaboration and is based o three elements: technical help, personal support and individual challenges. These three components are held together by the bond between the supervisor/coach and the subordinate or coachee. This emotional bond is very critical for coaching to be a success (Luecke, 2004). Coaching is a way of motivating employees by helping them overcome performance problems and grooming them to build on their strengths. It helps in training employees to develop new skills, more responsibilities and be ready to take up higher-level jobs. Coaching benefits both employees and organizations. It helps in meeting the organizational goals as well as personal development needs of employees (Shermon, 2008). Companies throughout the world are increasing using coaching as a tool for HRD.

It is the employee’s immediate supervisor or manager who has the primary responsibility of coaching. Many people can act as coach, but coaching is most effective when it occurs within the relationship between the supervisor and subordinate. It is the supervisor who has the required information, opportunity and authority to undertake coaching of the employees as he is the one who lays down the objectives of the employees and measures their performance. An external coach may not have the required information to act as an effective coach. In some organizations, peers are made coaches based on their seniority and performance. They may have the required skills, information and opportunity to coach their colleagues but lack the authority of a supervisor. Hence it is the supervisor who is best suited to carry out the coaching function (Werner & DeSimone, 2008).

There are different styles of coaching employees depending on the organizational requirement. Coaching for skills focuses on improving the employee’s performance in the current task at hand. Coaching for performance is focused on enhancing employee effectiveness in the present job. Coaching for development is for the future and involves developing skills of the employees for future responsibilities (Zeus & Skiffington, 2000).

The style of coaching gaining importance is team coaching. “Team coaching focuses on coaching groups of individual employees on how to work more effectively as parts of workforce teams. Such team efforts may utilize outside consultants and cover many different areas. Group coaching on leadership may help create high-performance teams” (Mathis & Jackson, 2007).

Competency skills coaching take a holistic approach to personal development by focusing on the core skills required to perform. “Competency skills coaching programs are tailored specifically to the individual, their knowledge, experience, maturity and ambitions and are generally focused on achieving a number of objectives for both the individual and the company” (Shermon, 2008). Competency skills coaching are different from classroom training as it is flexible and can be used on the job in live environment.

HRD is the provision of learning, development and training opportunities to enhance employee, team and organizational performance (Armstrong, 2004). It mainly focuses on developing the human capital in the business. “Strategic human resource development involves introducing, eliminating, modifying, directing and guiding processes in such as way that all individuals and teams are equipped with the skills, knowledge and competences they require to undertake current and future tasks required by the organization” (Walton, 1999). A successful manager has to coach, guide, motivate and reward employees to bring out their true potential, and thus increase their contribution to improving organizational performance. Coaching helps in overcoming performance problems of employees. It helps in making the subordinates understand the basics of the job at hand. It contributes in developing new skills in employees. Employees with good learning capabilities can be coached to take up more responsibilities of their manager. This in turn frees up time for the manager to focus on other important functions. Coaching also increases the productivity of the employees as it helps in imparting the best practices in performing a job from the superior to the subordinate. This increases the employee, team and overall organization productivity (Luecke, 2004).

Coaching is very important for team building and development. Managers should be able to groom and develop their team members for higher roles in the company through coaching. This type of team development is beneficial to both the manager and the employee as it provides for promotion opportunities for both. Coaching contributes in reducing employee turnover. When managers take more time in improving the skills of their subordinates, it motivates them to stay on in their role and contribute effectively to the company’s goals. It also fosters a positive work culture as there is a trust and bond in the relationship between mangers and employees (Luecke, 2004). Coaching requires emotional investment for it to bring out the best in the employees. According to Salaman, Storey & Billsbery (2005), “If you want people to work hard, you have to spend a lot of management time on them, coaching them, singling them out of praise, encouraging them, appraising them in one to one’s, and then devise all manner of recognition events to celebrate the successes”. But this extra effort and time spent is worthwhile as effective coaching increases employee performance, loyalty and productivity. It also shows the coaching manager as a person capable of building teams and provides them with opportunities for career growth.

HR has an important role in setting up and managing the coaching activities in an organization. “The role of the human resources professional certainly is a very important one in the coaching process. In most organizations, coaching budgets or approvals lie within the domain of human resources” (Valerio & Lee, 2005). The result of coaching in an organization depends on the kind of people chosen to impart coaching. They could be managers, senior employees or external coaches. The choice has to make by the HR according to the requirement in the company and the skills and competencies of existing managers. HR needs to be sure the situations where coaching is the appropriate method of learning and development. They have responsibility of choosing the people and the methodology used for coaching depending on the needs of the employees and the organization. HR also has to ensure that coaching mechanism set up is working and measure the performance and success of coaching (CIPD, 2010).

According to Werner & DeSimone (2008), “HRD professionals can help managers and supervisors become effective coaches by providing training in the coaching process and ensuring that the coaches have the interpersonal skills needed to be effective. In addition, other HRD interventions, such as training, may solve problems uncovered by a coaching analysis. HRD professionals can also help management create a climate that encourages coaching through the use of organizational development techniques.”

HR acts as a bridge between the employees and the manger. They only assist the manager and employee to realize their maximum potential by providing assistance when required. An HR coach has to work with every manager and supervisor at different levels in the organization. HR does not have control on the relationship between the employee and supervisor. They only form a partnership between the two that benefits both the organization and the employees.

Research questions

Research questions guide the process of research defining the scope of study and outlining the research framework (Ellis, 2009). The significance of formulating research questions is felt in its role in providing specific guidance to the exploration of the subject matter being studied. The strategic advantage of coaching as a form of human resource development within organizations is evident from the study of the literature review. However, coaching being an informal mode of HRD faces distinctive challenges in the form of lack of adequate leadership qualities and insufficient knowledge management resources that result in skills and competencies gap within the organization. The research study on determining the effectiveness of coaching strategies for HRD within organizations requires an insight into organizational practices and culture that promote suitable leadership skills and a positive work environment. Hence the research questions designed for this study are:

  • What are the impacts of leadership styles and managerial approach on creating effective coaching programs within the organization?
  • How can the organization culture influence the effectiveness of coaching strategies on HRD?
  • How can team based work culture promote an effective coaching program within organizations?

Research methodology

Research methods chosen for the study must ensure that the data and evidence collected during the process of study is reliable, accurate, current, and relevant and promotes clear understanding. Researchers focus on gaining an in-depth understanding of the subject matter and hence a study and review of the theoretical framework and conceptual models support the research objectives. The literature review hence “serves to channel the research, in that it indicates the type of study or studies that are appropriate based upon the nature of the problem driving the study” (Ellis, 2009). Since the research study is primarily exploratory in nature the methods used for gaining a focused perspective on the issue will comprise of qualitative research approach. Qualitative research method makes use of evidence based facts and information to guide the research process. It helps to analyse the research topic from various perspectives and helps in compiling a report based on an understanding and interpretation of human behaviour in context of study.

Based on this observation the research methodology will explore the subject matter in-depth through a literature review and analysis of existing conceptual models and theories. The research will focus on gaining a deeper understanding and perspective on the issue through the study of various literary sources both in printed and digital format available in the form of books, publications, journals, and online sources. The research report and conclusions are derived from the analysis of these sources of information and perceptions gained from theoretical approaches to the subject matter. Since the researcher opinions and perceptions on the subject matter may have an influence on the research outcomes and suggestions the research is liable to contain some degree of biased opinions and views that do influence the outcomes of research studies. The research method includes the identification of appropriate tools and techniques to highlight pertinent issues within the scope of research study, selection of relevant sources of information, collection and compilation of information, processing and analysis of the information, and interpretation of findings that is compiled into a research report (Zikmund, 2003).


Any research work is guided by five distinct principles that form the research design and involves the identification of research goals and objectives, planning the conceptual framework to develop the research arguments, establishing the research questions, decide on the methods to be used for data and information collection, and validating results for purpose of accuracy and relevance to the research context (Maxwell, 2005). Research work in the field of human resource strategy and management practices have for decades served to validate and strengthen the conceptual frameworks and theories put forward by authors and practitioners for gaining increased organizational efficiency and improving competitive advantage of firms. Managerial efforts on developing a competency framework enable the organization to emphasize employee talents and skills development in the desired direction. A vital aspect of core competency development within organizations relates to training and development of employees and effective implementation of knowledge management systems. These strategies are complemented by adopting coaching and mentoring strategies that have significant contribution in building the organizational competencies. Companies often use coaching and mentoring strategy in difficult situations where the employee behaviour affects the team and company performance. Adaptability to change is also seen as a major hurdle in successful implementation of new processes.

Coaching concentrates on an individual development that will directly contribute to organization development. The basic need for coaching and mentoring arises from the fact that the companies must re-think and revise their operational strategies to adapt to the ever-changing world of business to keep their cash registers ringing. In such situations the company cannot afford to hire people and ignore their potentials. They need to be developed and adapted to changes in the company for better company performance. This also includes fulfilment of personal objectives in terms of growth and opportunities.

Effective mentoring and coaching strategy is gaining prominence in most organizations today providing grounds for a fruitful management employee relationship sharing the same goals and vision for the company. The scope of this strategy includes teaching people how to apply, share knowledge, and transfer of skills within the department. It encourages self-awareness and flexibility to cope better with changes.


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  2. Shermon, G. 2008, Competency based HRM, Tata McGraw Hill, p 449-510.
  3. Luecke, R. 2004, Coaching and mentoring: how to develop talent and achieve stronger performance, Harvard Business School Publishing, p 1-70.
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  12. Valerio, A.M. & Lee, R.J., 2005, Executive coaching: a guide for the HR professional, John Wiley and Sons.
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  17. Ellis, T.J. & Levy, Y. 2009, Towards a guide for novice researchers on research methodology: review and propose methods, Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology, Volume 6.

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