Baby boomers and millennials are at the heart of numerous shifts that will shape the coaching profession from 2019 to 2022. This can open the door to tremendous opportunity for coaches with the right training and qualifications.
Whether you are new to coaching or a seasoned pro, your future is bright. Yet now more than ever, a clear definition of your value and those you serve is critical. Specialized expertise will play an increasingly prominent role toward your success in the years ahead.
As generational and economic shifts continue to influence our world, rewards and challenges will come in equal measure. If you’re ready for both, here is what you’ll find on the horizon for professional coaching.
1. Increased demand for coaching services
Coaching is on the rise in every sector. Recent statistics published by MarketResearch.com reported the “U.S. personal coaching market was worth $1.08 billion in 2017, up 6.5% from the prior year.” Drawing upon estimates published by the International Coach Federation, they also went on to predict that the “total market is forecast to grow at a 5.4% average annual pace, to $1.38 billion by 2022.”
Business coaching trends are on a similar uptick. Market research gathered by global thinktank IBISWorld found that in “the past five years, the Business Coaching in the US industry has grown by 2.8% to reach revenue of $
It’s interesting to note that the perception of coaching has shifted from a luxury once reserved for high-ranking executives to that of a significant contributor to the success of an organization for all stakeholders. Among the services that contribute to this rise are management development training, professional development training, quality assurance training, and comprehensive business coaching.
Takeaway: Whether you choose to provide services for individuals or businesses, your skills and expertise are in demand.
2. Greater coaching opportunities within niche sectors
This is one of the most encouraging trends, especially for Whole Person Coaches because it reinforces the value of the coach’s unique brilliance. Your experience will play a larger role in the coming years, driven by the greater complexity of problems that individuals and organizations face.
Take baby boomers for example. Comprised of more than 75 million individuals, this generation is now facing retirement. For the first time in their lives, they are untethered from family and career obligations. Suddenly they’re faced with a big question: what now?
Retirement coaches are filling the gap. In fact, this is one of the key areas in which those who want to serve older people make their impact. Retirement coaches help clients self-discover their next best steps. Aligning with their true purpose, these clients learn how to create a plan and maximize their life after retirement. Instead of just surviving, retirees learn to thrive with renewed purpose. (Read my previous post on the life-or-death nature of purpose here.)
In this niche, you’ll find coaches who are passionate about working to help others prepare and thrive in retirement. Other coaches seek to pass on their knowledge and give back by building up younger generations. As these retirees fill the role of coach themselves, they offer their unique insight on finances, purpose and meaning, and the changing nature of relationships. In turn, their younger clients reap the benefit of knowledge and experience garnered throughout a lifetime – some firsthand accounts of which will be lost within little more than a decade.
Takeaway: I’ve highlighted retirement coaches here to make a point. Regardless of the niche you’ve chosen, continued specialization and training will keep you current with trends, benefiting you and your clients who will face increasingly complex problems. Specialization will also allow you to command higher fees than those who offer general coaching services.
3. Recognizable credential to “prove” qualifications
Coaching remains an unregulated industry yet moves further into the mainstream each day. For this reason, quality assurance is increasingly top-of-mind for anyone hiring you – individuals and businesses alike.
individual you place your trust in has been vetted by others and maintains a standard for the services they’re providing.
Once upon a time, credential was optional. Now it has become a requirement for positions within many organizations and even as an independent coach.
The main governing body that provides credentials for the coaching industry is the International Coach Federation (ICF). As of 2017, they had nearly 31,000 members in 138 countries. They also have more than 130 chapters in 70 countries.
Most who apply to become a coach within an organization are required to hold an ICF credential. It is also highly likely that hiring managers and HR personnel started their search, or at the very least a vetting process, through the ICF’s database, the ICF Credentialed Coach Finder. And if that wasn’t enough, you will most likely be required to hold an ICF credential to get into advanced trainings like those currently offered through Brené Brown and other reputable institutions.
Takeaway: ICF credential is one of the fastest ways to build your reputation by establishing your professionalism as a coach. But it’s not just an empty pedigree. The philosophies, practices and requirements enforced for credential and renewal make you a better coach – not to mention a more successful human being!
4. Measurable results
Future outcomes are not an easy thing to market – harder still if you can’t back up your promises with proven success. While you may have a little more leeway within the personal coaching market, businesses are now demanding proof that you can deliver on the improvements you’re selling.
In this way, coaches are not exempt from the demands placed on the individuals they serve: you have to monetize your worth.
More and more, you may find yourself will also be increasingly evaluated through the metrics of employee performance and customer surveys.
It’s worth noting that in Whole Person Coaching, we take things a step further. We encourage our clients to evaluate their overall well-being. How satisfied are they? How are they feeling about their self, life and in general – mentally, emotionally, physically, socially and spiritually.
By encouraging those we serve to self-define their ideals, we add an extra layer of value onto our services. It’s an approach that also ensures we’re aligned with our client’s goals up front. This provides us metrics – the most important metrics I would argue! – to determine when the desired outcome has been met.
Takeaway: Get ahead of the curve by keeping track of the improvements you’re responsible for, whether they’re linked to productivity, employee retention and lower absenteeism, or specific aspects of value related to that individual or line of business. Think ROI – how have your services lowered costs, increased sales or moved the needle within the life of an individual? Attach a dollar value to it and you’re a big step ahead of the rest.
5. Digital delivery as communication preferences shift
This is where we see the other shift driven by generational preferences. Millennials are now estimated to have surpassed baby boomers as the largest segment of the U.S. population with more than 83 million individuals.
As the demands for coaching services increase, so too will the need for these services to be delivered in the format preferred by the greatest segment of the market. In short, digital platforms are expected to become the primary communication method in coming years. This includes virtual technologies that promote on-demand delivery such as webinars, coaching apps and video conferencing.
Digital is also expected to become the preferred delivery method among businesses who will be looking to reduce costs related to travel and schedule time more effectively while still booking top-tier coaches for seminars and workshops.
Takeaway: Rising demand for tailored experiences, immediate feedback and easy access will require proficiency with digital delivery for coaching services. While this may require a little extra skills training on your part as a coach, it will also give you access to a global market in which you can provide services.
6. Content marketing and social media will differentiate coaching services
This is one of my favorites, in part because I’m passionate about all things marketing-related but also because it’s going to facilitate one of the central aspects of Whole Person Coaching: your brilliance leading the way.
Content marketing will be the primary method of promotion for coaching services in the years to come as it allows you to tell your story while positioning yourself as an expert. This also has the potential to lead to further niche segmentation among coaches due to the clarity and focus required to appeal to a specific demographic.
We’ll see more “superstar” coaches and thought leaders appear on Facebook, YouTube and other forms of social media as the result of strategic messaging. This will also cater to the demand for measurable results, as every blog article, case study, video tutorial, sample coaching session, and ROI report will work to establish your expertise and success.
Takeaway: Good news if you’re an introvert! Market your services through targeted content that educates your ideal clients, rather than cold calling, speaking, networking or even blanket advertising. One of the greatest benefits of digital marketing is that you are not “on the spot.” It allows you to take your time, plan your message and create content you are genuinely excited to share. Start building your content library today by creating articles and videos that speak to the needs of your ideal client.
7. Coach training integrated into performance management
The International Coach Federation (ICF) has discovered a direct correlation between coach training integrated into performance management and overall success. In their 2017 Annual Report, the ICF reported that “organizations with strong coaching cultures indicate recent revenues above that of their industry peer group (46% compared to 39% of other responding organizations) and report higher employee engagement (61% and 53%, respectively).”
In the same report, the ICF also found that, of the 670 respondents, 44% cited “coaching and developing others…is the most valuable competency for first-time people managers.” Yet only 36% of the same group provide coach-specific training to their new leaders.
Modern performance review software provides the opportunity for immediate feedback through internal social HR platforms. But it goes to waste without the human connection at its core. Competitive, forward-looking organizations, driven to lead, will focus more on developing a coaching culture in which enhanced trust, real-time support, increased engagement and personal responsibility are part of everyday conversations.
Takeaway: Successful organizations will shift conversations from a focus on what isn’t working to the elements that could contribute to future success. This will consider both the individual and the company, leveraging the full potential of coaching for all stakeholders.
8. Experience Coaching will become an asset for forward looking companies
Skills-transfer will soon become more important than ever. As baby boomers retire and millennials assume key roles, experience coaching will help facilitate the seamless transfer of knowledge. Far more effective that simply dictating a process, experience coaches begin with active listening then use powerful questions to walk a new employee or executive through the process on their own.
“Learning leaders find that their organization’s investment in learning is far superior when leaders practice and demonstrate coaching at every level,” according to an article published by Training Industry. “Nearly 25 percent of the individuals at organizations where coaching is demonstrated also said that their organization’s efforts to support learners in sustaining their behavior change are highly effective, compared to only 5 percent from individuals at organizations where coaching is not used.”
The benefit of employing a “coaching-like” approach to learning is that it engages the whole person through inquiry, reflection and direct communication. Recipients embody the skills and, more importantly, the ability to figure things out on their own through coaching’s self-innovative effects.
Takeaway: Corporate niche expertise will have tremendous value in coming years. If you possess specialized qualifications and experience, your services as a skills-transfer or experience coach will be in high demand.
9. Growing interest in positive psychology
Coaching clients arrive on your doorstep searching for help with a specific problem. But more often than not, the problem they’re experiencing is only a symptom of what’s truly holding them back. Though they’re looking for help with the “problem of the moment,” most clients are also seeking ways to enhance their overall sense of satisfaction and well-being.
Positive psychology is quickly becoming the default solution. The reason is simple: it acknowledges the whole of an individual. As a foundational element of Whole Person Coaching for nearly two decades, you’ll now find it in coaching cultures within organizations and as a central tool used to shift individuals toward their stated goals.
As the name implies, positive psychology is focused on what is right – the potential of an individual – as opposed to what’s wrong. When used in concert with coaching, you’ll usually find a process that includes powerful questions, empathetic listening, focus on greater self-understanding, and a shift from dwelling on problems to searching for solutions.
Takeaway: Coaching and positive psychology seamlessly complement each other. Whether you coach individuals, teams or organizations, its focus on character strengths will move your clients toward the sustainable realization of their goals.
10. Coaching as a foundation for lifelong learning
You’ve probably heard the terms “professional development” or “retraining.” They address the same issue: filling the gap between institutional education, professional training and the real world. Necessary for communication and emotional intelligence in an increasingly automated world, a coaching culture that promotes lifelong learning has the potential to boost engagement, key employee retention and overall job satisfaction.
The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines a learning culture as “a community of workers instilled with a “growth mindset.” People not only want to learn and apply what they’ve learned to help their organization, they also feel compelled to share their knowledge with others.” (…not too far from the definition of a coach really.)
The SHRM went on to report that to create a learning culture, you must remove the inhibitors to the learning process, namely ego, fear and complacency. In other words, the central coaching practices of deep trust and sacred spaces greatly facilitate this type of learning.
Takeaway: Continuous learning is one of the main contributors to success in modern business. For example, you will increasingly find it as the cornerstone within agile project management. As companies look to enhance their competitive advantage through enhanced collaboration and process improvements, agile coaches will command top dollar for their services. This value is due to a complementary hybrid of specialized business knowledge and coaching skills, both of which are focused on a single goal: continuous improvement.