| |

Coaching In Organisations: Australian Guidelines

by Jennifer McCoy

In 2010, Australia led the world with the first collaborative set of guidelines for coaching, published by Standards Australia in May 2011.

This is the first ISO-aligned comprehensive national standard world-wide. It addresses every aspect of coaching as it is implemented within an organization: its competency, knowledge base, service provision, training, purchasing and management. Its impact will gradually shape the practice and development of coaching. The focus of the new standard is formal coaching in organizations. It does not address life coaching, health coaching or business coaching.

Coaching is still an emerging field, although it is a rapidly growing area of professional practice. Coaches come from a variety of backgrounds and experience. The industry is diverse and so are coaching practices, with coaching knowledge base and practice still developing.

Rather than seeking to identify and claim a distinct body of professional knowledge as its base, coaching draws upon knowledge from multiple disciplines, including psychology, business, education and the physical sciences.

So, the guideline document is initially designed as aspirational. It does not seek to prescribe how coaching must be conducted, but instead seeks to capture emerging coaching practices and processes that stakeholders would see as valuable.

The developers of the guidelines have been drawn from purchasers, suppliers, researchers, trainers, universities, government and professional associations. They have taken care to recognise the need to write a guideline that allows for multiple approaches and theoretical positions and identifies acceptable practice; recognising that the multidisciplinary nature of coaching enables diverse and innovative solutions to emerge. This then allows it to match the emerging needs of a complex world.

At the same time, they wanted to recognise the need for evidence based practice, to acknowledge and affirm the role of experience and the importance of rigour in methodology and evidence gathering.

These guidelines will serve multiple purposes. For a coach, they define the skills and professional development practices they should pursue. The guidelines provide guidance for:

  • selection and on-going professional development
  • contracting with clients
  • delivery and evaluation of coaching services.

Already we can see the influence as professional coaching associations refer to this document by way of encouraging their members to commit to professional development activities. Purchasers of coaching services ask many questions:

  • Is coaching appropriate for our needs?
  • What does coaching involve?
  • How will we assess and select workplace coaches?
  • Should we develop our own coaches or engage external coaches?
  • How will we evaluate the success of coaching interventions?

The guidelines may not provide all the answers. However, they are a comprehensive body of information that will inform discussion for all stakeholders, bringing clarity to a complex issue. Coach training organizations and professional associations will also find guidance in developing curricula, evidence-based practices and issues pertinent to governance, ethics and continuing professional development of coaches.

Coaching is no longer simply respectable. A line has been drawn with this guideline and coaching has been lifted into another realm.


Coaching in Organisations. HB 332-2011. 2011. Sydney, SAI Global, Standards Australia