1-855-962-7569 Let’s Connect

Maslow Insights

Thought Leadership


Why can’t I coach myself to success?

Why can’t I coach myself to success?

A research-based comparison between self-coaching, individual coaching, and group training in organizations

According to the International Coach Federation (ICF), a total of 3,240 certified professional coaches were operating globally in 2000. Twenty years later, this number went up to 39,787 with an over 1,100% growth rate in the number of certified coaches. As the number of certified coaches increases, there have been many research projects showing the benefits of coaching programs on employees’ job satisfaction, motivation, and performance. Although everyone agrees with the potential benefits of coaching in organizations, there remains reasonable doubt if the benefits of coaching can outweigh its costs. To address this issue, in recent years, some coaching professionals have been advocating for self-coaching as an alternative to individual or group coaching programs. Self-coaching was introduced as a low-cost solution for facilitating growth and development. In coaching sessions, coaches usually take their clients through some activities or assignments to help them set their goals and move toward them. To copy the same framework, self-coaching was introduced with the hope that reading written instructions and completing coaching exercises without being supported by an external coach will be sufficient to gain the same benefits.

Over a short period of time, self-coaching has become more popular, and many books were written about it. As a matter of fact, we all may have experienced some form of self-coaching at some point in our life and benefited from its process and results, but this question still remains that how self-coaching can be compared to individual coaching and group training in terms of its effectiveness in helping individuals to learn new skills or increase their performance?

A group of behavioural scientists in the department of psychology at the University of Salzburg in Austria conducted a research study to find the answer to this question. In their research project, they looked at the relative effectiveness of different methods of coaching and training in reducing procrastination and facilitating goal attainment.

The researchers recruited 84 participants and assigned them to the four following conditions: 23 participants to the individual coaching program, 27 individuals to the group training, 13 participants to the self-coaching group, and 21 individuals to the control group. Participants in the control group completed the pre-test and post-test measurements but did not receive any training or coaching. Participants in the individual coaching, group training, and self-coaching had three sessions (2 hours each, 10 days in between sessions).

For all three groups, the first session materials were about the discrepancy between an actual and desired self and setting personal goals. The second session was around dysfunctional thinking patterns (aka. Mental traps) as well as the development of useful strategies to achieve personal goals. The third and final session was focused on writing an action plan and addressing potential barriers and obstacles in our way to achieve our goals. In the individual coaching sessions, participants went through all the materials and activities with the help of an external coach. In the group training, participants completed exercises in a group setting together while receiving instructions from the trainer. In the self-coaching group, participants received written instructions in a form of a self-coaching manual and completed the activity by themselves, and it was up to them to set their goals and reflect on them.

After the researchers analyzed the data, they found out that although participants in all three groups reported progress toward their goals, participants in individual coaching and group training were more reported more progress toward their goals. Additionally, participants in the individual coaching program reported higher satisfaction with the process compared to the ones who were assigned to the group training and self-coaching group. The results of this research showed that reading the written manuals and completing exercises independently without the support of a coach was not sufficient for improving one’s motivation, performance, or goal attainment.

Based on their results, one can argue that when selecting the appropriate HR development program, if the goal is to prepare the employees for specific skill- or knowledge-based tasks, individual coaching and group training are both similarly effective. But if the goal is to address their motivation and the personal obstacles in the way of achieving their goals, individual coaching outperforms group training and self-coaching practices.

If you are in the process of designing the personnel development plan within your organization and you are not sure to what extent you have to rely on individual coaching, group training, and self-coaching initiatives, please don’t hesitate to book a FREE appointment with us using the following link. Our colleagues at Maslow will listen and consider your organizational needs to recommend solutions that are specifically tailored to your organization.

Also, if you are interested to measure and compare the effectiveness of group training and individual coaching programs for different training goals within your own organization, we, here at Maslow, offer coaching effectiveness evaluation services which measure the impact of different forms of coaching in comparison with other training initiatives on employees’ level of knowledge, skills, abilities, and performance within your organization.

Source: Losch, S., Traut-Mattausch, E., Mühlberger, M. D., & Jonas, E. (2016). Comparing the Effectiveness of Individual Coaching, Self-Coaching, and Group Training: How Leadership Makes the Difference. Frontiers in Psychology, 7.