An evaluation of the effect of coaching on the empowerment of middle managers in the retail sector : a lifelong learning perspective

Fourie, Stefan Steyn (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2012-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The modern business environment is characterised by uncertainty, rapid change and the continuous pursuit of competitiveness. This has placed a renewed emphasis on the capacitation of managers operating in such environments and may be seen as a critical means of ensuring a sustainable advantage. Within the South African food retail environment, learning and development activities do not seem to be capacitating managers effectively, as well as taking too long to meet the changing demands of the retail sector. Lifelong learning has the potential to accelerate the development of individuals in management positions. Lifelong learning can be seen as the facilitation of learning, growth and development of individuals, as well as a means for enabling individuals and organisations to meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive world. Learning has the potential to empower individuals. In facilitating lifelong learning, a coaching methodology was used to facilitate the learning of ten middle managers in a large food retail store (part of one of the biggest retail organisations in South Africa). This research set out to evaluate the effect of coaching (as a method to facilitate learning) to empower middle managers in the food retail sector. The research was approached from a lifelong learning perspective and the focus of the research was the individual adult learner. Within the context of adult learning, the concepts of andragogy, experiential learning and transformative learning were applied in the facilitation of adult learning. Coaching (as a method to facilitate learning) allows for a uniquely individual and personal approach to learning. The learning and development intervention (using a coaching methodology) to facilitate learning was implemented over a period of 12 months and the participants were ten middle managers employed by the retail store. The case study (more specifically a multiple-case) design was used as research design. The findings of the research were discussed to place them within the context of the following research questions: • What is the effect of coaching as a method of learning and development in the facilitation of lifelong learning to empower middle managers in the food retail environment? • Is coaching (as only another way of facilitating learning) an effective method for facilitating learning and the development of middle managers in the food retail sector? • Which dimensions should be taken into consideration when implementing a coaching methodology (as a method of learning) in developing middle managers in the retail sector? The participants’ empowerment status was measured with a standardised questionnaire using a pre-test, post-test and post-post-test design. The research was conducted in three phases. Mixed methods research (using both qualitative and quantitative methods) was used during the research, which included interviews, field notes, questionnaires, observation, tests and official statistics. The first phase consisted of an evaluation, which included an evaluation of each individual manager. Two learning style questionnaires were applied to each middle manager to gain a better understanding of each middle manager and to assist the learning process on an individual basis. Lastly, a pre-test on empowerment was done by means of a standardised questionnaire. Part of this phase involved a structured interview with each individual manager. The second phase involved exposure to the coaching intervention and the process of coaching, followed by a post-test for measuring changes in the empowerment status. The last phase consisted of a post-post-test to measure changes in empowerment at the end of the coaching intervention. Five out of the ten middle managers showed sustained empowerment gains at the end of the coaching intervention. An experiential approach (using Kolb’s learning model) was used to facilitate the learning, and the middle managers who completed the learning cycle (namely concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation and active experience) showed empowerment gains. The learners who showed empowerment also displayed self-direction in their learning. Coaching (as a method to facilitate lifelong learning) was used as an effective method of learning in a busy retail environment. Statistical analysis showed no statistically significant improvements in empowerment from pre-test to post-posttest of the total group. Based on the findings and conclusions of the research, a new coaching framework (to facilitate lifelong learning), namely the New Coaching Retail Model, is proposed. This model consists of dimensions that facilitate individual lifelong learning, pointing to an empowered lifelong learner.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die hedendaagse sake-omgewing word gekenmerk deur onsekerheid, vinnige verandering en ’n volgehoue ingesteldheid op mededinging. Binne die konteks van menslikehulpbronontwikkeling is daar ’n hernude beklemtoning van die ontwikkeling van bestuurders in omgewings van hierdie aard, wat aan besighede volhoubare voordeel sal gee. In die Suid Afrikaanse kleinhandel-voedselsektor blyk dit dat sekere leer- en ontwikkelingsaktiwiteite nie aan die uniekheid van die sake – en dus aan die konteks – voldoen nie. Lewenslange leer het die potensiaal om individuele ontwikkeling te versnel. Lewenslange leer kan as die fasilitering van leer, groei en ontwikkeling gesien word, en hou voordele in vir die individu, asook vir die organisasie binne die konteks van ’n veranderende sake-omgewing. Lewenslange leer het die potensiaal om die individu te bemagtig. Binne die konteks van die navorsing is ’n afrigtingsmetodologie gebruik om die lewenslange leerproses van tien middelbestuurders van ’n kleinhandelsaak (wat deel vorm van een van die grootste kleinhandelgroepe in Suid-Afrika) te fasiliteer. Die doel van die navorsing was om die effek van afrigting op die bemagtiging van middelbestuurders binne die kleinhandel te evalueer. Die navorsing is vanuit die perspektief van lewenslange leer benader. Die fokus van die navorsing was die individuele volwasse leerder. Binne die konteks van volwasse leer, is andragogie, ondervindingleer en transformasieleer tydens die fasilitering van volwasse leer toegepas. Afrigting (as ’n metode om lewenslange leer te fasiliteer) maak voorsiening vir ’n unieke individuele en persoonlike aanslag tot lewenslange leer. Die leer- en ontwikkelingsintervensie (deur die gebruik van afrigting ) is oor ’n tydperk van 12 maande gevolg en die teikengroep het uit tien middelbestuurders binne een kleinhandelsaak bestaan. Die navorsingsontwerp het ’n gevalle studie- (meer spesifiek ’n veelvuldige gevalle studie) ontwerp gevolg. Die drie navorsingsvrae verwys na die aard van die afrigtingsintervensie om lewenslange leer te fasiliteer en was daarop gemik om te bepaal of die afrigtingsintervensie ’n effek op die deelnemers se bemagtigingsvlakke gehad het, of afrigting as effektiewe metode vir leer en ontwikkeling vir middelbestuur binne die kleinhandelsektor aangewend kan word, en watter dimensies in ag geneem moet word wanneer ’n afrigtingsmetodologie gebruik word om middelbestuur binne die kleinhandelsektor te ontwikkel. Die deelnemers se bemagtigingstatus is met ’n gestandaardiseerde vraelys gemeet, terwyl ’n voor-en-ná-toets en ’n verdere (post-post-) toetsontwerp gevolg is. Die navorsing is in drie fases geïmplementeer. Beide kwalitatiewe en kwantitatiewe metodes bestaande uit onderhoude, notas tydens veldwerk, onderhoude, vraelyste, waarneming, toetse en statistiese analise is gebruik. Die eerste fase het uit formele evaluering bestaan, waar elke individuele bestuurder geëvalueer is. Elke bestuurder het twee verskillende vraelyste voltooi wat die individu se leerstyl geïdentifiseer het. Hierdie fase het ook voortoets behels wat die deelnemers se bemagtigingstatus gemeet het, asook uit gestruktureerde onderhoude. Gedurende die tweede fase is deelnemers aan die afrigtingsintervensie blootgestel. Gedurende die intervensie is die deelnemers se bemagtigingstatus weer deur ná-toets gemeet om verandering in bemagtiging vas te stel. Fase drie het uit verdere toets bestaan om die deelnemers se bemagtigingstatus aan die einde van die leer intervensie te meet. Die navorsing se bevindinge dui daarop dat vyf van die tien deelnemers aan die einde van die afrigtingsintervensie ’n verbetering in hul bemagtigingstatus getoon het. Deur gebruik te maak van ’n ondervindingsaanslag (soos gebruik in Kolb se leermodel) was dit beduidend dat die middelbestuurders wat die siklus van leer voltooi het, almal ook ’n verbetering in hul bemagtigingstatus getoon het. Hierdie leerders het ook selfrigting in hulle leer getoon. Afrigting (as ’n metode om lewenslange leer te fasiliteer) kon effektief as ’n metode van leer in ’n besige kleinhandelsektor gebruik word. Statistiese analise het getoon dat daar geen betekenisvolle verbeteringe van die voortoets na die na-na-toets van die groep was nie. Gegrond op die bevindinge en gevolgtrekkings, word ’n nuwe afrigtingsmodel voorgestel om lewenslange leer te fasiliteer, naamlik die “New Coaching Retail Model” (wat vertaal kan word as die “Nuwe Kleinhandelafrigtingsmodel”). Dié model is aamgestel uit dimensies wat individuele lewenslange leer bevorder, en wat dui op ’n bemagtigde lewenslange leerder.

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