Surveys suggest that employee coaching is becoming a mainstream development activity, much like mentoring, self-directed learning, special assignments, etc. A recent study by the United Kingdom’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 71% of British employers now use coaching. A recent survey conducted by the Minneapolis-based CO2 Partners found that half of middle to senior-level executives had experience being coached. The overall conclusion has to be that the use of coaching is increasing and it is no longer limited to C-level managers.

And the meaning of coaching varies widely. A CIPD “guide” to coaching states:

The term ‘coaching’ has come to refer to many different activities…Its early use in the business world often carried a remedial connotation – people were coached because they were underperforming or their behaviour was unsatisfactory. These days, coaching is more usually seen as a means of developing people within an organisation in order that they perform more effectively and reach their potential.

Also, the delivery of coaching varies greatly from one-on-one, scheduled sessions with an external coaching expert, to internal designated coaches working with managers as needed, to supervisors coaching their direct-reports as part of a performance improvement process. More and more, leadership and management development programs are incorporating coaching as a way to sustain learning after a leadership workshop. And some coaching, much like the directive approach of a sports coach, is teaching and motivating people to do a task more effectively. Achieving a narrow definition of coaching is unlikely and probably not helpful. As the term continues to be applied broadly in organizations it will be imperative to identify the method and learning intention of coaching in each situation.