Diermann, I., Kotte, S., Müller, A., & Möller, H. (2021). Initial exploration in workplace coaching – Coaches' thematic and methodological approach. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice (RCOA) DOI: 10.1080/17521882.2021.1879188
Coaching is increasingly used as an HRD intervention. Initial research suggests the importance of coaching behaviour, especially at the beginning of a coaching engagement, for coaching success. However, findings are scarce as to how coaches proceed during the initial phase in coaching and recent reviews therefore call for research that investigates how coaches determine the focus of the coaching intervention. Therefore, our study aimed to answer the questions of what and how regarding coaches’ approach to the ‘initial exploration’. We conducted 20 semi-structured interviews with workplace coaches. Qualitative content analysis revealed a broad range of contents addressed, methods applied, and principles that guide coaches during the initial exploration. Moreover, we identified specific patterns for categorising coaches’ approaches. Concerning the content coaches address, we identified three dimensions: coachees’ areas of life (private vs. professional, with the latter including individual vs. social vs. organisational aspects), temporal focus (past, present, future), and perspective (solution- vs. problem-orientation). We integrate our findings into a taxonomy of the initial exploration in coaching and thereby provide a basis for future research as well as a guide for reflection and decision-making for coaches, coachees, and organisational sponsors.