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New Bersin & Associates Research Shows Three Times Greater Business Impact Generated by Senior Leaders Who Coach and Develop Employees

Study Finds that While 70 Percent of Organizations Claim They Coach Their Employees, Only 11 Percent of Senior Leaders Actively Participate

Oakland, CA – August 8, 2011 – Bersin & Associates, the premier research and consulting firm empowering HR organizations to drive bottom-line impact, today announced new research that shows senior leaders who coach, develop and hold others accountable for coaching and development are three times more effective at producing improved business and talent results than those who do not.

The research findings are included in Bersin & Associates’ new study, High-Impact Performance Management: Part 1 – Designing a Strategy for Effectiveness. The research also found that while 70 percent of organizations claim they coach their employees, many managers lack coaching skills, and only 11 percent of senior leaders actively coach regularly. Despite such challenges, 10 percent more organizations say they use a coaching and development model of performance management today than did in 2008.

“High-performing organizations are moving from competitive assessment toward a coaching and development model for performance management to address an unusual confluence of events: a slow recovery from a deep recession, the rise of a younger generation that expects more coaching and development and the globalization of much of the workforce,” said Stacia Sherman Garr, senior analyst for Performance Management, Bersin & Associates. “A coaching and development approach to performance management empowers organizations to provide support when they cannot offer more compensation. It also facilitates the development of younger workers and helps retain employees in competitive emerging markets.

Added Garr: “Our research also shows that organizations are moving to a coaching and development model of performance management because it drives innovation and growth, which is a top priority in organizations today.”

For example, Kelly Services®, a leader in providing workforce solutions, transitioned from a competitive assessment model to a true coaching and development model of performance management. It has required two performance conversations: one at mid-year, and the other at year-end. Kelly found the inclusion of performance scores at year-end inevitably led to a focus on the score, so the organization no longer requires managers to provide these scores. Instead, Kelly has developed a total rewards system to handle compensation. The intention is to keep year-end conversations focused on how the employee can improve and how the manager can support them in a way that encourages coaching and developing employees to achieve better results.

The Bersin & Associates study is the first in a five-part series on High-Impact Performance Management. The series is based on a year-long analysis of performance management that involved more than 500 HR leaders from a range of industries, geographies and organization sizes. The research found that four of the top five challenges to effective performance management are related to poor executive engagement. Specifically, the study found that:

  • Senior leaders frequently fail to model effective coaching. Only 11 percent of senior leaders regularly coach their employees and only 15 percent of leaders discuss the importance of coaching and development employees “very frequently.”
  • Executive engagement is critical to performance management effectiveness, yet lacking at most organizations. Of those organizations with very frequent executive engagement with performance management, 81 percent had strong business results – and none had below-average business results. Only 35 percent of organizations with infrequent executive engagement had strong business results.
  • Managers lack the skills to coach their employees, and this presents the most severe challenge to effective management of employee performance. The research shows that organizations effective at teaching managers to coach deliver higher levels of employee productivity, employee engagement and financial performance.
  • At most organizations, there is a “disconnect” between the intended purpose of performance management and the reality. Companies want the process to deliver goal alignment (49 percent) but more often they focus entirely on performance appraisal (44 percent). This is why the coaching element has such impact.

“It is HR’s responsibility to help senior leaders understand the impact of effective coaching on their organization’s performance,” said Josh Bersin, chief executive officer, Bersin & Associates. “Our research finds that performance management when done well can deliver huge business impact. The key findings in this research are that the coaching element is much more important than organizations may previously have believed.”

Bersin & Associates plans to publish four additional reports in the Performance Management series over the next nine months. Parts two through five will look at performance management practices, such as setting and revising goals, coaching and development planning, rewarding and recognizing performance for impact, and using appraisal to drive improvement.

To download a complimentary copy of the Executive Summary of High-Impact Performance Management: Part 1 – Designing a Strategy for Effectiveness go to

The first report, High-Impact Performance Management: Part 1 – Designing a Strategy for Effectiveness, is available today for $495 for a PDF and $595 for a print copy. Each of the four additional High-Impact Performance Management reports to be published between now and late Spring 2012 will be available for $295 for a PDF and $370 for a print copy. The full Bersin & Associates study to include all five reports, High-Impact Performance Management will be available in late Spring for $1,295 for a PDF and $1,445 in print. For more details, go to

Meet Senior Analyst Stacia Sherman Garr through her webinar about High-Impact Performance Management at 2 p.m. Eastern tomorrow, August 9th. To register, visit

Those interested in learning more about Bersin & Associates and its WhatWorks® membership may email or call (510) 251-4400.

For media queries, email or call (510) 251-4406.

About Bersin & Associates

Bersin & Associates empowers HR and learning organizations to drive bottom-line impact through world-class research and consulting. The company's WhatWorks® membership gives human resources, learning, and talent acquisition professionals the information and tools they need to drive change in their organizations as strategic business partners.

Bersin & Associates members use our insights and tools to benchmark themselves against best practices, design and implement programs across the HR and learning spectrum and select and implement systems. More than 5,000 organizations worldwide, including more than half of the Fortune 100, use Bersin & Associates research and consulting to guide their learning, talent, and human resources strategies.