In the area of coaching and development, engaging in these discussions invariably leads to responses which question whether this 'mythology' really matters. After all, they will say, if people find these things helpful that must be OK.
These discussions often distinguish the heart from the head people and polarise the debate quite acutely. For many coaching and development approaches there probably is merit in asserting that a number of techniques and tools don't have much weight to support or explain them but they will even so, produce some benefit in the recipient (for fascinating, 'placebo' type reasons). But many will not. It is for this reason that I consider that it does matter if we continue to perpetuate (or fail to challenge) these myths.
- It wastes money - spending money on assessments and tools (or the coaches, consultants or trainers who promote them) to deliver development or change which will not result, is a waste of money. In these Brexit days this is going to be even more of an issue. If we reasonably anticipate that budgets for L&D will be restrained it is even more important that spend is wise, assessed and based upon something rather firmer than glossy brochures, nice sales people or herd mentality.
- It wastes people's time and energy - engaging in development and change programmes requires time, commitment and energy. No one has yet managed to achieve such change or development in quickie fashion with a magic wand or special potion. If that lengthy development programme is based upon fluffy, unproven tools and approaches which do not bring about the desired benefit, then all of that time and energy has been misplaced.
- It causes disaffection and loss of trust in L&D - signing people up to ineffective development programmes, psychometrics, tools, workshops, feedback exercises on a fairly regular basis and taking up valuable time which leads nowhere, quickly leads people to be very jaded and cynical about these initiatives. This not only fails to produce the desired result in developing people, but makes good development programmes all the more difficult to land and gain traction when they are introduced.
Sarah is Managing Director at Managing Change and a Leadership and Executive Coach. She is Co-ordinator for the International Society for Coaching Psychology's Cambridge research hub which aims to share the results of rigorous coaching research with practitioners in the field. For details, contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org