Dr Rob Kemp, Barefoot Coaching (1)

Leading coaching organisation identifies dangers of using inadequately trained coaches in organisations

The Head of Accredited Coach Training at a world-leading coach training provider has warned against organisations using unqualified coaches to work with staff.


Dr Rob Kemp at Barefoot Coaching has identified the dangers that coaches without rigorous training pose to organisations including basic competence, confidentiality, ethical challenges, and many others, which could lead to problems for the organisation on a number of levels.


Coaching is currently an unregulated sector which has a number of professional bodies that have their own standards and competencies with which coaches must engage and comply. 


Rob Kemp, a Doctor of Coaching and Mentoring with two decades of practice and experience, said: “Outsourcing or hiring a coach who is not adequately trained or supervised poses a risk. 


“These risks range from basic competence to confidentiality. Coaches must be fit to practice – and this requires an investment of training and time, and holding to an ethical code”.


Bodies in the sector include the leading global organisation for coaches and coaching, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) which has around 50,000 credentialed coaches.


The ICF accredits Barefoot’s flagship postgraduate certificate in business and personal coaching training programme, which has over 5,000 alumni. 


Other accrediting bodies include the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) and the Association for Coaching (AC), which organisations can look out for when choosing a coach.


It has previously been common practice for organisations to hire someone who has worked in a senior position in their field to coach their staff.


But Dr Kemp explained that these individuals would often end up providing the service of a mentor, trainer or consultant.


Now, as HR departments gain a greater awareness and understanding of the coaching industry, there has been a shift towards choosing coaches with qualifications, accreditations and credentials.


He added: “There has been an increased recognition and awareness that functional expertise in an area is not necessarily something that makes a great coach.


“There’s a much greater awareness now that coaching is a specialist skillset which is independent of functional knowledge.”

Statistics released by the ICF show that an increasing proportion of coach practitioners hold a certification from a coaching organisation.

In the 2022 survey, 85 per cent of coaches said they currently hold a credential, which is up from 69 per cent in 2015.

According to Dr Kemp, organisations that engage with trained coaches can help in numerous ways, such as productivity gains, making positive cultural shifts and improving employee wellbeing and engagement.


Barefoot Coaching recently launched a Leader as Coach programme which enables managers to confidently coach their team as part of their day-to-day role using the coaching skills, knowledge and mindset that they learn and practise on the programme.


The programme is accredited by the European Mentoring and Coaching Council which means managers can then go back into their workplace and use coaching skills, with a strong understanding of coaching ethics, and a confident grounding in coaching practice.


But ultimately while more organisations are shifting towards using suitably trained coaches, Dr Kemp believes that true regulation in the industry is still a long way off.


He added: “I think we, as an industry, are doing a much better job of training coaches and making sure people are safe to coach. I don’t think we will ever truly get away from some companies bringing in former senior industry professionals to ‘coach’ employees, but I do think it’s dwindling.”