The role of coaching to improve decision-making by senior managers

Hughes, Trevor (2013-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.


The purpose of this research assignment was to identify the role of coaching to improve decision-making by senior business managers. The research reviewed the theory of decision-making, business coaching and a coaching approach. The research captured the perceptions amongst a group of senior managers regarding the contribution of business coaching and coaching tools to their decision-making. The research then tracked how these perceptions changed as the group experienced coaching. The research identified how to use coaching for decision-making by teams and individuals. Action research was the methodology used for conducting this research and was preferred because of the opportunity to pilot an approach in a real situation involving senior managers as participants in a process that allowed for adjustment and learning along the way. The sample comprised a team of group account managers in a South African beverage manufacturing company. An action research process of plan, act, observe and reflect was used with CLEAR (contract, listen, explore, action and review) as coaching approach, and coaching tools comprising Kolb’s experiential learning and reflective practice. The action research was a five-phase process, which included team sessions and individual coaching sessions. The findings showed that coaching makes a positive contribution to more effective decision-making by senior managers. Participant perceptions were that the CLEAR coaching approach made a positive contribution to more effective decision-making, with Kolb’s experiential learning and reflective practice making important contributions. Based on the research findings, business leadership and management should pay specific attention to their business decision-making practices and put programmes in place to ensure effective decision-making. It is also an imperative for senior managers to identify opportunities to improve their decision-making skills through coaching or other means. Coaches working in the business environment should develop their knowledge of decision-making and adopt focused approaches to increase the decision-making effectiveness of their clients. This research with a sample group of five senior managers occurred in a competitive fast moving consumer goods business environment over a twelve-week period. Further research could include samples that are more diverse, at different levels in an organisation, in different industries and over longer periods. Opportunity also exists to conduct further research into the role different coaching approaches and coaching tools could play with respect to improving decision-making effectiveness.

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