Blended online coaching: the future of sustainable development
Organizations and businesses invest large amounts of money in the professional development of their employees. According to research by Technavio, the soft-skill training market will grow by 10% per year until 2020 (with a turnover of 15 billion dollars in 2015). The coaching market also continues to grow, according to the International Coach Federation (ICF). Between 2011 and 2015, the market grew by 6%. According to the 2016 ICF Global Coaching Study, the total revenue from coaching-related services is $ 2.4 billion worldwide.
At the same time, we notice that organizations are becoming increasingly critical as to what they spend their learning and development money on. Research into ‘transfer of training’ shows that such questions are justified given the low transfer of training during leadership development programs. To illustrate, a meta-analysis of Powell and Yalcin (2010) investigating the effectiveness of training programs for managers over a period of 50 years (1952 to 2000) showed that effects are moderate and that manager training programs have not become more effective over time.
Training programs can be very expensive and time-consuming. In addition, participants in this type of program often have little time, a high workload and struggle with work-life balance (Ladyshewsky, 2014). Such factors can influence the development experience of participants and thereby the transfer of training (Baldwin & Ford, 1988; Cromwell & Kolb, 2004). Because each individual has unique development needs and the ‘one size fits all’ approaches often do not suffice, internet-based coaching has the potential to be a flexible and agile development approach that may be highly effective (Hamlin, Ellinger & Beattie, 2008; Jarvis, 2004). Previous studies showed positive results of behavioral change interventions delivered via the internet (De Janasz & Godshalk, 2013; Ladyshewsky et al., 2014; Ruwaard et al., 2007; Wentz, Nyden & Krevers, 2012).
The call for alternatives in a digital world is also confirmed in the Deloitte report on Global HR Trends 2016. This report shows that learning is one of the most important trends in HR. Here, a trend is an area in strong need of attention and investment. The report concludes with the growing insight that learning must be integrated into a world where employees can continuously develop themselves, using innovative and flexible platforms that align to their personal agenda (Josh Bersin, 2016). Accordingly, in our work, we see that the increasing digitalization of our work and focus on effectiveness and profitability creates a growing interest in online coaching and eLearning interventions.
Challenge is that research and practice on online interventions are at an early stage, and only few methods and techniques for online guidance exist. In this article, we will explain our approach to online guidance (blended eCoaching) in the context of professional growth. In addition, we demonstrate how professional behavioral development can be realized.
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