The professional coaching revolution: opportunities or risks?
Rémi Zunino
Rémi Zunino

The professional coaching revolution: opportunities or risks?

For the past ten years, the professional coaching market has been expanding rapidly. From approximately 4000 in 2012 (according to PWC), the number of professional coaches has more than tripled to reach 15000 in 2022 (OPIIEC study). The reasons for this increase are clearly identified. On the one hand, the demand of companies in terms of talent support, in a post-Covid context, is constantly growing. On the other hand, new coaching methods, especially digital platforms, are accelerating the spread of coaching at all levels of organizations.

Good news for this market, one might say! Especially since other players and tools such as Artificial Intelligence are arriving on the market as promises of ever more exponential growth...

However, in the midst of this global digital and technological revolution, isn't it time to take a step back? Let's take advantage of this article to put into perspective the current mutations in the professional coaching sector and their future promises with the reality of this profession which implies: training, requirements, listening to the client and measuring results.

OPIIEC 2022 study on the professional coaching and supervision market: edifying results

A very large number of certified coaches, only half of whom actually practice the profession

According to the study, there are currently more than 33,000 certified professional coaches in the French market, of which less than half (15,000) are involved in coaching. For 50% of them, it is not their main activity.

Professional coaches with little experience

The OPIIEC study also tells us that out of all professional coaches practicing in France, 50% have less than 5 years of experience and 70% have less than 10 years of experience. Moreover, only 25% of them practice more than 200 hours per year. This means that 75% of French professional coaches practice less than 4 hours of coaching sessions per week...

A high proportion of professional coaches in France are not supervised

One of the surprising points made public by this study is the high proportion of unsupervised coaches. According to the OPIIEC, 40% of coaches are not supervised. As a reminder, supervision consists in the accompaniment of a coach by a supervisor (himself a coach) to reflect together on what the coach brings back from his interactions with his clients. The objective is to help the coach progress in his or her practice and, consequently, his or her clients.

We are aware that achieving a high level of experience and performance takes time and practice. Through this article, we want to make potential clients aware of the great diversity of coach profiles that exist on the market and the need to surround themselves with qualified professionals to accelerate the development of their Talents, managers and leaders. At Talentis, we are extremely rigorous in the selection of coaches to guarantee the best possible support to our clients:

  • A recognized certification
  • Minimum 1000 hours of coaching
  • At least 10 years of experience as a manager and/or executive in large groups
  • Regular supervision...
professional coaching revolution

What are the major trends in professional coaching in 2023?

Professional coaching continues and accelerates its disruption:

  • Digital coaching platforms allow a large-scale deployment to offer professional coaching to a maximum of employees anywhere anytime on an international scope.
  • An ever more detailed analysis of the data collected during coaching sessions for an increasingly precise follow-up of results and coaching campaigns.
  • Enhanced professional coaching - associated with numerous contents, educational sheets, tests, exercises
  • Accelerated use of technological tools: Artificial Intelligence - Virtual Reality Big Data Machine Learning, etc...

More and more demanding clients in a changing coaching world

Companies want to offer professional coaching to their Talents, not online training.

The number of coaching platforms that are launched each year on the market is countless. With a large choice of coaches, a multitude of features and for some, promises of AI and revolutionary data analysis, it becomes difficult for an uninformed client to choose a platform adapted to his needs and offering truly professional coaching.

The fact is that today, due to its recognized effectiveness, professional coaching is almost unanimously approved by large groups. As a result, a large number of HRD clients have developed a high level of demand for the coaching services offered on the market.

At Talentis, we notice that our HRD clients make the difference between real professional coaching offers and online training offers.

Indeed, through the use of coaching, they expect from their Talents, and from the selected coaches, a real in-depth work and not the implementation of an infantilizing system contented with "pushing" standardized contents for a "magic" progression.  

The digitization of coaching enabled by the platforms brings many advantages such as a greater speed in the launch of coaching programs or a flexibility for the coachee in the choice of his coach and the date of his sessions. The analysis of collected data also allows companies to measure the effectiveness of coaching programs over time.

Nevertheless, digitization must remain at the service of coaching and not be used as window dressing to compensate for a possible lack of experience of the coaching team concerned for example.

Coachees looking for authentic dialogues with their coach

Olivia Lalou, Executive Coach at Talentis:"The Talents we coach share with us the fact that they expect their coach to spend time in dialogue, fed by authentic feedbacks intended to help them progress".

The quality of the human relationship and the expertise of professional coaches is therefore a very widely shared requirement among coaching end-clients. At least as far as those we accompany at Talentis are concerned.

The risk in a five-star evaluation society," Olivia Lalou continues, "is to fall into a form of seduction where the coach will seek to obtain the maximum score at all costs. In my coaching practice, I make sure to keep a co-responsible relationship where the professional development of my client remains my sole objective. "

Between Artificial Intelligence (ChatGPT, Bots...), Datas and Virtual Reality, what is left of coaching considered as "traditional"? Should we be worried about these changes or do they open up new perspectives for a more efficient professional coaching?

We are seeing a strong growth in the provision of combined Data / AI services to HRDs to track the evolution of coaching within their organization.

What exactly does it involve? It consists of increasingly sophisticated reports that will provide HRDs with detailed information on :

  • The psychological health of employees
  • The nature of the coaching themes worked on
  • Recommendations of coaching or training offers to be pushed within the company

Belinda MJ Brown, Executive Coach at Talentis:"There is a noble side to AI that notably allows coaches to obtain quality information on the populations they coach."

Nevertheless, the advantages of this technology should not make us forget certain limitations.

For example, the temptation could be great, in an effort to democratize coaching to the extreme, to offer certain populations coaching in the form of AI and for others, considered more strategic, classic professional coaching. For some, a real human being, for others, a machine...

The other risk we perceive is the breach of confidentiality of sessions. To enrich their AI, some solutions could resort to recording coaching sessions. This poses a serious ethical problem because professional coaching must imperatively guarantee total confidentiality of exchanges between the coach and his client. At Talentis we say yes to digitalization for a smoother coaching experience but no to the collection of data for questionable uses.

The current challenges facing the coaching market are identical to those faced by a multitude of other sectors: what about the digitalization of tools and services to the maximum? If the advantages are numerous, they should not overshadow the question of the human aspect which remains essential. This is especially true for professional coaching, where the human relationship is a fundamental aspect for a guarantee of quality. In an increasingly digitalized world, technology must remain at the service of the human being and not the opposite. This is why at Talentis we attach great importance to the professionalism and experience of the professional coaches who join our community.

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