The strengths and challenges of a coaching intervention for managers in Botswana
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to understand the strengths and challenges of a coaching intervention for managers in Botswana, as no research seems to have been conducted on coaching interventions in this country of Africa. The main research question was divided into three sub-questions, to study the strengths and challenges in relation to (1) the coaching outcomes, (2) the coaching process, and (3) the coaching relationship. The research approach employed to answer the research questions was qualitative research methodology, based on practitioner research. A coaching intervention was conducted by the practitioner-researcher as the coach in a listed, professionally-managed private sector company engaged in financial services in Botswana. The participating company selected seven managers for the coaching programme consisting of five coaching sessions over three months (May, June and July, 2014). For credibility and trustworthiness in this research, triangulation was used to collect data from three independent sources – interviews from the coachee sample, interviews from the coachees’ superiors, and the practitioner-researcher’s field notes and observations. Data analysis was carried out using thematic analysis techniques. The strengths and challenges related to outcomes, process and relationship found in this study generally confirmed corresponding themes in the literature reviewed. This research makes a positive contribution to the body of knowledge, specifically to coaching in Botswana where no previous research studies on coaching are available. The finding that most coachees in this study had a preference for a non-directive coaching style was different to findings in other African countries. In terms of the identified strengths, a key perceived benefit was receiving coaching during organisational change involving restructuring and possible retrenchments. In terms of challenges, the lack of coachee readiness in some coachees seemed to link with other challenges identified by the same coachees; that is, slower progress and change, their preference for a directive style of coaching, and the need for longer and more frequent coaching sessions. The main finding was that the coaching, as a development intervention for managers, has an inherent strength in helping them to actualise their desired development outcomes. This was evidenced by positive responses from the coachees and executives of the company, for whom this intervention was a first time experience of coaching. However, certain challenges were experienced in the process of conducting the intervention. The primary onus, therefore, is on the coach to conduct the coaching practice effectively by being versatile and skilled in dealing with the variety of issues that may arise. The overall conclusion was that this coaching intervention demonstrated more inherent strengths than challenges. The challenges were felt mostly by the coachees, offering insights to the coachees’ organisation on how to support the coaching process.The practitioner-researcher recommends that further research be conducted with a larger sample, using a longer-term coaching intervention of six to eight months. The research interviews should be conducted three to six months after concluding the coaching to establish sustainability of the outcomes. Using an independent interviewer may eliminate researcher bias.