These six trends will shape the future of coaching

To repeat something you already know, the world is changing fast right now. Many of these changes are happening on a national or even international scale, but they end up having a profound effect on businesses and individuals too. And of course, that in turn affects what type of coaching is needed to meet people’s new needs.

This is a big challenge, but one that we’re excited about facing. There are so many new areas to explore in coaching, and so many ways to innovate. Here are just a few of the things we think we’re going to see a lot more of in the coming years, especially when it comes to growth industries.

1. Virtual coaching is here to stay

Most industries have had to shift to more remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic, and coaching is no exception. But we don’t think it’s just a short-term response to a difficult situation. Rather, we think it’s a different way of coaching than face-to-face. It has a whole raft of advantages – flexibility, privacy, collaborative technology, and plenty more. Even when we’re all able to interact in person again, I think many people will stick with virtual coaching.

2. A focus on upscaling

Businesses in growth industries face two key issues when upscaling: how to take talent with them as they upscale; and how to incorporate new talent without undermining the company culture. The trend is that the executive team is kept on as the business is upscaled, but other teams are broken up, replaced or dropped entirely. Middle management often bears the brunt. With the help of specialist coaches, though, there’s no need to lose the talent and time investment in these teams as you grow and restructure. Instead, they can be trained to deal with larger or more specialised teams, and to bring their knowledge with them into the next stage of the business.

3. Moving to culture add, not culture fit

As conversations around I&D have become more nuanced, we’ve seen a shift from culture fit to culture add. A business culture, like a national one, is not static. To try to stop it developing is to limit your company’s potential. Forward-looking leaders are working with coaches to see how they can implement the idea of culture add in their own workplaces, making the organisation more adaptable, equitable and ultimately successful.

4. Use of individually gathered data

From Fitbits to smartphone apps, we’re becoming more and more obsessed with quantifying our lives – everything from heart rate to REM cycle. This thirst for quantified knowledge to back up life choices feeds into coaching, too. Not convinced by the breathing techniques your coach suggests to ease your fear of public speaking? Well, seeing your heart rate slow down when you do them might help. Ultimately, though, the most useful data to track is how you’re feeling, when you’re meeting your goals and facing your challenges. Your coach can make good use of this data – and you can track it with just a pen and paper.

5. From individuals to systems

Professional coaches will always be useful for helping individuals fulfil their potential. But many people are held back from that by the systems in which they’re working. As the global conversation around injustice and bias continues, savvy leaders are already looking for coaching in ways to remove these limitations in their own organisations – to make sure all their employees can reach their full potential.

6. A focus on middle management coaching

Though a large percentage of the workforce, middle management is frequently overlooked and undertrained. Many people in these positions find themselves with an ill-defined role, in need of skills they’ve not previously had to develop, and often subject to being thinly spread across management and the doing. But it’s a vital area, and an opportunity to develop hands-on leadership skills which are incredibly helpful in higher-level roles. Both middle managers and business leaders are starting to realise this, and work with coaches to invigorate this sector.