Coaching Report

2016 April Coaching Report

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2016 April Coaching Report

Whether working in the areas of health, education, or executive coaching, we are committed to enhancing people’s wellbeing.   In the work context, wellbeing is very much tied to whether people find their work engaging and fulfilling. Yet, at what point might engagement shift into its opposite - burnout - as external pressure and expectations increase?  What if supports are not adequate to sustain well-being under high demands?  The resources we highlight this month explore these relationships between well-being, work engagement, social relationships - and where coaches can engage.

Our upcoming April Webinar highlights research supported by the IOC Harnisch grants. Gordon Spence and Christopher Niemiec will present their project: Coaching for employee engagement: Using self-determination theory to predict turnover intentions and wellbeing.  This is a wonderful example of a study which coherently brings together theory, empirical research and theory-based coaching and illustrates its impact on wellbeing.

A related resource is the article by Gabriel,  Moran, & Gregory  (2014). How can humanistic coaching affect employee well-being and performance? An application of self-determination theory (SDT). This article explains many of the core concepts of SDT, and argues for integration of SDT and humanistic frameworks in coaching (which also emphasize respectful, trusting and safe relationships). Thus it connects to and further clarifies the issues which will be brought up at the webinar.  

Supportive interactions between coach and coachee certainly take place within the dynamics of larger networks – family, organizations, social structures. These can be sources of social support or could present barriers to growth and development – and thus need to be part of the conversation.  We include a description of the new book by Kegan, Laskow Lahey, Miller,  Fleming and Helsing An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization (2016).  The book reflects on how the organization as a whole can be contexts for the development and fulfillment of all members, if they are seen as trustworthy and safe places.

Irina Todorova, PhD, Director of Research
Institute of Coaching

How can humanistic coaching affect employee well-being and performance? An application of self-determination theory. Gabriel, A. S., Moran, C. M., & Gregory, J. B. (2014). Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 7(1), 56-73. (Full text available to members).

While the benefits of coaching are continuously being illustrated, this article argues that what can be further developed is the theoretical foundation of coaching. To advance this aim, the authors reflect on how self-determination theory (SDT), integrated with a humanistic framework, can contribute both to our understanding of the psychology of coaching, as well as to guiding theory-based coaching practice.    

Self- determination theory illuminates the types of motivation which propel people to act, such as motivation that comes from the self as well as motivation that is stimulated by external authorities and expectations. It also proposes that all people have basic psychological needs which they aim to satisfy – specifically autonomy, competence and relatedness – as they strive toward their goals. The more internally motivated for the activity or goal, the more people are engaged and satisfied with what they are doing and have higher well-being.  Alternatively, if motivation is mainly external or needs are not being satisfied, people can become burnt out and disengaged.

The humanistic framework is in tune with these ideas.  It further emphasizes human growth, development, fulfillment and importantly; the centrality of trusting and respectful relationships, very relevant to the coach-coachee relationship.  This relationship is seen as horizontal and the coaching as non-directive. This is also true for the way that goals are set and carried out; the coachee takes ownership of identifying and proceeding toward the goals, while the coach only facilitates the process.

An integration of ideas from SDT and from humanistic (person-centered) approaches can be a foundation for theory-based coaching practice, which supports the capacity for growth and the satisfaction of psychological needs.  Coaches can practice in ways that address the whole person on the basis of trusting, non-judgmental and non-directive relationship.  The way the coach interacts can support autonomy, competence and relatedness – i.e. the practice of needs-supportive coaching can facilitate growth and wellbeing.  The paper also acknowledges the importance of relationships within the larger systems and networks in which people are embedded and how coaching from a SDT perspective takes these into consideration.

Other useful resources for diving further into the ideas of self-determination theory, engagement and wellbeing in the workplace can be: The Oxford Handbook of Work Engagement, Motivation, and Self-Determination Theory, (2014) chapters in which elaborate on the theory and concepts, and others discuss how they can inform practices.  Another webinar from our resource bank is from February 2015 - focused on how self-determination theory can be a base for coaching practice: Coaching Science in Motion: Translating Self-Determination Theory into Coaching Practice with Margaret Moore, Jeff Hull, and Richard Ryan.

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