In the fiscal balancing act of tightening budgets and a stronger need for a return on investment, the decision to cut or continue workplace coaching requires careful consideration. Is coaching just a line item, a ‘tick and flick’ activity, or is it the key to unlocking employee potential and driving results that set you apart from others?

When considering the value of an investment, we traditionally look at the expected results against the resources expended. But when it comes to personal or professional development, the metrics become a little nuanced. What is it that makes coaching a worthy investment?

To appreciate the worth of coaching, we must first distinguish between horizontal and vertical development. Horizontal development pertains to the absorption of content—reading books, listening to podcasts, or attending lectures. While informative, this type of development often remains theoretical. Without deliberate application, knowledge can easily be forgotten, leaving us unchanged in thought or behaviour.

Contrastingly, vertical development delves deeper. It’s not just about acquiring knowledge but fully embodying it. Real-world scenarios, challenges, and experiences push individuals out of their comfort zones, compelling them to adapt and evolve. Think about an impending deadline that requires your complete and undivided attention alongside the urgent client issue that needs urgent resolution. Top that off with differing views on how things should be done and depleted energy from a restless night’s sleep and an empty stomach and you have the perfect storm.

It’s in these pressure cooker situations that true transformation has the opportunity to take place, but it’s not a given. Transformation will only happen if we take the opportunity, after the event (when emotions have subsided, we’re rested and have eaten) to reflect and make sense of things with the value of hindsight. Unfortunately, in our frantic modern world, most of us neglect this crucial step and miss potential growth opportunities. We view being still as negative or unproductive, and with a never-ending to-do list the urge to keep doing is often too strong to resist.

Enter coaching.

For many people, it is only when working with a coach, that they give themselves permission to be still and reflect – and this is where their value is uncovered. A coach creates the space for reflection and holds it, through discomfort, resistance and even denial – until realisations are found.

Coaching exceeds the surface-level knowledge transfer, it allows for vertical learning and transformation. According to the International Coaching Federation, coaching involves a “thought-provoking and creative process that inspires individuals to maximise their personal and professional potential.” Coaches don’t merely provide answers. Instead, they prompt individuals with powerful questions to introspect, challenge their beliefs, and view situations from varied perspectives. This process often exposes untapped resources of imagination, blind spots, productivity, and leadership within the coachee.

The power of coaching doesn’t end with the coaching sessions. A skilled coach instils the art of self-questioning. Over time, individuals adopt strategies around these reflective habits, which allows the value to continue to be delivered well after the coaching relationship has concluded. So, when assessing the value of a coach, we shouldn’t simply calculate the hours and money spent, we should consider the lasting impact of their guidance.

Coaching is not a passive undertaking; it’s a dynamic partnership focused on the individual. It swiftly transitions one from a state of stagnation to empowerment. Coaches don’t dictate the path but help individuals discover their own. The real magic lies not in the answers provided but the questions asked.

In our busy, often overwhelming world, a coach serves as an invaluable partner. They offer a space free of judgment or bias, dedicated solely to the coachees success. As the landscape of work and life continues to evolve, coaching emerges as a tool not just for the elite but for anyone seeking clarity amidst the chaos.