26 July 2022
Coaching has exploded in popularity, with more than 71,000 coach practitioners around the world, and 33% joining the profession since 2015.1
But establishing a high standard of consistency in coaching has become harder, with around a quarter of coaches being uncertified.
Technology has improved transparency and accountability, while making it easier to manage, measure and scale coaching. But one area where technology doesn't live up to the hype is coach matching.
Many coaching companies rely heavily on coach-matching to achieve successful coaching, despite evidence that it has no impact on the outcomes.
In business and workplace coaching, matching is when participants are paired with a coach, that has a similar background, age, gender, experience, personality or learning style.
Many HR and learning managers would feel more comfortable pairing their senior executives, for example, with mature coaches with vast experience.
Not only will their similarities help to build great rapport, supporters of coach-coachee matching argue it’s fundamental to successful coaching outcomes, such as increased self-efficacy, career satisfaction and job performance. Some go as far as to say that it’s ‘critical’ to coaching’s effectiveness.
Once upon a time, we believed that too. But when our behavioural scientists dug deep into the scientific research on executive and business coaching, we discovered that, frankly, it is a myth.
When 74 relationships between coaches and participants were studied in a US military academy to see the effect of coach-coachee matching and chemistry had on coaching effectiveness, no significant impact was found.
Research also shows that personality has little effect. One study even found that coaches and coachees with the biggest differences in personality, achieved significantly higher coaching outcomes.
Research shows people have a natural tendency to identify with individuals who have similar physical characteristics, personalities, attitudes, and behaviors, even if it leads to bias and poor decision-making.
While there’s nothing wrong with people enjoying coaching, there’s a problem with coaching participants picking coaches solely on them being the ‘perfect match,’ rather than their coaching process.
The obsession with finding the ‘right chemistry’ wastes a coachees time and effort, slows their progress towards goals; and undermines the organisation’s investment in their development, performance, and their business goals.
It also creates a pervasive incentive for coaches. The more people like their coach, the more likely they are to feel satisfied with their sessions. 
But, with a coach’s earnings often linked to how coachees rated their experience, there is a risk that it incentivises coaches to focus primarily on satisfying the participant, and avoid challenging them strongly, even if it pushes coachees out of their comfort zone to change their behaviour.
Backed by behavioural science, precision coaching methodology is designed to consistently achieve goal attainment and performance improvement for coachees in the shortest time possible, based on three core elements:
Compared to traditional ‘problem-focused’ coaching, where people spend initial sessions understanding the challenge in great detail before addressing it, ‘solutions-focused’ coaching homes in on the end goal and the specific ways to achieve it.
Solutions-focused coaching increases goal progression by +91%, positive feelings by +38%, self-efficacy by +23.5% and reduces anxiety by 36% and stress by 14.1%.
Once a goal has been specified, and the next steps identified, the question becomes what might stop a coachee from turning this intention into action?
Rather than wait for the coachee to arrive at the solution themselves, precision coaching uses a scientific framework called the ‘COM-B’ model, a tool for diagnosing the blockers and enablers of behaviour change based on three key factors:
Precision coaching creates a sense of continual progress and achievement for the coachee by regularly meeting self-set milestones of improvement.
This strengthens their self-belief and is a key driver of successful executive coaching outcomes, improved job performance, transformational leadership, perceived coaching effectiveness, and stronger coachee self-awareness and responsibility.
Mastery experiences also change the way participants are orientated towards achieving their goals. They believe abilities are malleable and tend to see new challenges positively as things to overcome and grow from.
This increases a coachee’s learning and competency on tasks, acquisition of knowledge and skills and their persistence to attain their desired goals in the face of failure.
Learn science-backed advice on how to make coaching work in less time, every time by watching our free coaching webinar.