Improving employee performance, motivation and engagement : a brain-based coaching model for managers

Delport, H. J. (2011-12)

Thesis (MPhil) -- Stellenbosch University, 2011.


The aim of this research study was to explore the experience of managers, and specifically engineers at a steel manufacturing company, of a brain-based coaching model. Coaching’s origins can be traced back to a variety of fields including psychology, change management, training and adult learning. Many people argue that coaching is ‘heart based’ as opposed to being more analytical and scientific. This caused some confusion with the researcher. However, during his studies towards a Master’s degree in Philosophy (MPhil) in Management Coaching, he was introduced to neuroscience and the role it has played in the emergence of a new field called brainbased coaching. The fact that one could scientifically explain why the brain needs coaching and that coaching can help the brain improve its functioning, appealed so much to the researcher that he wanted to expand his knowledge of the subject. Selecting a sample group that was made up only of engineers who had participated in a training programme with the focus on brain-based coaching, provided the perfect platform from where to study the phenomenon and to discover how the engineers, who are academically trained, are analytical and who, by their very nature, prefer scientific evidence-based research, perceive a brain-based coaching model. It was also important to try and establish what they believed the benefits and possible applications are of the model and whether they think it can be used to improve performance and lift motivation and engagement. The results were positive, but it revealed more; it explained how the experience created awareness and led to a change in behaviour and thinking – not just at work, but also in their personal lives. These findings provide more knowledge about the potential that a brain-based approach has for managers and leaders as a development tool. It also gives some comfort that we do not have to continue doing and thinking about things the way we have always done; we have a choice and this approach gives us an insight into how to exercise that choice.

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