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The Risks and Gains of Coaching

What might be the risks of coaching, you may wonder? Well, the first and most basic rule of coaching is “do no harm”. So, assuming, that the coach stays within that brief and can hold a confidential and safe space for the client to explore, that is probably covered. 

A real risk of coaching is that the client gains so much clarity and self-awareness from the learning with a coach that remaining in the status-quo becomes impossible. This may then result in a decision by the client to resign from a job they are unhappy with. But wait – that is a "gain", right? For the client, most probably, but for the employer – the coach sponsoring company - this may cause some real headaches. A company is usually willing to invest in the professional development of an employee they believe has value for the company. So when this person decided to quit it sends an important signal to the leadership.

Looking back at our work over the last year, we have noticed a higher than usual percentage of clients deciding to leave their current employer during or after coaching with us. We are speculating about the reasons behind this: Is it Covid related, or does it have to do with more general factors such as the pace of change, company culture or the industries and clients we have happened to have this year? 

We will never know for sure, but to us it is clear, the so-called “Great Resignation” is also affecting Switzerland. A shift seems to have taken place, in how much stress and pressure people are willing to endure to stay with an employer. If people feel underappreciated, disempowered, or deem the company culture detrimental to their health and wellbeing, they step away. They are more willing to endure the uncertainty and disruption to their lives in having no or little income while looking for a new job than staying with an employer they no longer believe in.   

Companies who opt to develop their employees through coaching and other means need to be prepared to do more than hire good coaches and trainers. They should be prepared to listen to their employees about what else needs to change in the system so that they can flourish and thrive after coaching with us. After all, we all know that happy employees are more productive and hence have a direct effect on the bottom line. New criteria and intervals for performance evaluation, cultural change and inclusion & diversity initiatives are some examples of changes to the system that our sponsoring companies have initiated with the aim of retaining employees. Having more managers and executive teams go through leadership development programs involving coaching is another increasingly popular initiative to further the cultural transformation of the whole system.

Very early in the contracting phase with a coach sponsoring company we now always have a thorough discussion about the possible implications of coaching employees on the wider company system. We want to help define the steps that need to happen outside the actual coaching with us to ensure the best positive outcome for both the coaching client and the sponsoring company. We help improve the understanding of the consequences of having employees who are more self-aware, more resilient, and clearer about what they need to be productive so that there is always a win-win.

When the employer takes a more long term view and keeps the focus on the people throughout disruptive times, these employees who have gone through the transformative experience of coaching may well become the key to the future success of the company and help drive the necessary change.

Please reach out, if you want to discuss how we may assist you in developing your people and drive your change agenda!


About the Author

Nina Giustiniani - Executive Leadership Coach

Nina is passionate about enabling leaders and teams to go from the 'what' to the 'how' of transformational change. She creates the environment and space for learning while making sure effort, time and money are focused on what matters most.

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