Individual Contributors Get Mentoring Yet Little Coaching

September 2, 2014


While individual contributors at a majority of organizations are provided mentoring by managers, relatively few employers provide them with coaching by outside professionals. This according to a survey of executives and managers from more than 700 organizations conducted by AMA Enterprise, a division of American Management Association.

Three out of four organizations offer some sort of development to individual contributors, those employees who may have no direct reports or formal leadership position but whose expertise is important for the enterprise’s success. Among these organizations, 59% provide mentoring, the most common offering for individual contributors. In contrast, just 15% offer what might be considered professional coaching.

If your organization develops individual contributors, which of the following elements are part of that effort? (respondents were instructed to indicate as many as apply)

59%    Mentoring by managers
57%    Individual development planning
53%    Personal assessments
48%    E-learning
45%    Classroom learning
44%    Special workshops and training
40%    Exposure to senior executives
38%    Access to external development offerings
15%    Coaching by external professionals

In recent years, senior management at one in three companies has become more aware of the benefit of training and developing individual contributors. Though they’re still largely taken for granted at many organizations, individual contributors are often key players who get things done despite having no direct management authority.

Nevertheless, what their development efforts consist of is sometimes unclear. For instance, “mentoring by managers” tops the list, but that may mean different things at different organizations. It may indicate a formal, structured program delivered by an internal coach…or it may be just a catch all for routine encouragement by one’s boss. But as our survey findings suggest, serious coaching is more the exception than the rule.
The survey also explored how the development of individual contributors is evaluated.

How does your organization assess the effectiveness of its efforts to develop individual contributors? (respondents were instructed to indicate as many as apply)

46%    Feedback of participants
37%    Improved performance of participants
37%    Observed behavior changes of participants
31%    Positive business results attributed to participants
30%    Don’t know/Does not apply

Having clear success outcomes in place is essential to be able to measure the effectiveness of any development initiative. Usually it is best to look for behavior change related to what’s needed on the job, as well as obtain direct feedback from participants. Our survey respondents seem to be making strides in this respect.

AMA Enterprise provides organizations with assessment, measurement, and tailored training solutions. The survey was conducted November 16, 2013 to January 22, 2014 and respondents consisted of 721 senior-level business, human resources, management professionals, and employee contacts drawn from the AMA database of contacts.

AMA offers two types of coaching services: Skill-based coaching and executive coaching. Skill-based coaching follows an AMA classroom and/or virtual classroom event. The goal is to ensure knowledge transfer and support application of the learning back on the job.  AMA executive coaching may or may not be aligned with an AMA learning event. Such behavioral and executive coaching is provided by AMA in partnership with CoachSource, an organization with more than 900 coaches in 45 countries who are trained in the Goldsmith coaching methodology and possess certifications in a range of coaching instruments.

With more than 90 years’ experience and headquartered in New York, American Management Association is a global leader of comprehensive talent development. AMA Enterprise, a specialized division of AMA dedicated to building corporate and government training solutions, transforms enterprise-wide talent to fuel a culture of innovation, high performance, and optimal business results.

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About The Author

American Management Association is a world leader in professional development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—“learning through doing”—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career journey. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including seminars, Webcasts and podcasts, conferences, corporate and government solutions, business books and research.

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