Variations in coaching style and their impact on subordinates'
Ray Tak‐yin Hui
Lee Shau Kee School of Business and
Administration, Open University of Hong
Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Department of Management, City University
of Hong Kong, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong
Ray Tak‐yin Hui, Lee Shau Kee School of
Business and Administration, Open University
of Hong Kong, Good Shepherd Street, Ho Man
Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong S.
A.R., Grant/Award Number: CityU 148708
Variations in the coaching style used by supervisors and/or managers (n = 51) at a variety of
businesses in mainland China were examined for their impact on a range of subordinates'
(n = 373) work outcomes. The data, collected in four waves over several months, showed as
hypothesized that style variations reflected by guidance versus facilitation‐based coaching had
differential effects on subordinates' adaptive performance (AP), task performance, and job‐
related feelings of anxiety. Guidance coaching, for example, was negatively related to AP,
whereas facilitation was positively associated; this pattern was reversed for task performance.
Also, as expected, AP partially mediated both the positive relationship between guidance
coaching and task performance, as well as the negative association between facilitation and task
performance. Finally, a post hoc study revealed that subordinates' job‐related anxiety partially
mediated the negative relationship between guidance coaching and AP, as well as the positive
association involving facilitation and AP.
coaching, job‐related anxiety, performance adaptation, task performance
Ongoing and often dramatic change associated, for example, with
technology and globalization (Burke, Pierce, & Salas, 2006a) has gener-
ated interest concerning how individuals (Jundt, Shoss, & Huang,
2015), teams, and organizations adapt (Baard, Rench, & Kozlowski,
2014). Although the concept of performance adaptation can be applied
to various levels and domains (Baard et al., 2014), our interest is in the
behavior of individual employees, where adaptive performance (AP) is
defined as “task‐performance‐directed behaviors individuals enact in
response to or in anticipation of changes relevant to job‐related tasks”
(Jundt et al., 2015, pp. S54–S55). With regard to individual AP,
empirical research has focused on understanding, from a variety of
perspectives, how and why individuals respond to changes in complex
environments (Griffin, Neal, & Parker, 2007; Griffin, Parker, & Mason,
2010; Jundt et al., 2015; Lang & Bliese, 2009; Pulakos, Arad, Donovan,
& Plamondon, 2000).
As reflected in recent literature reviews (see Baard et al., 2014 and
Jundt et al., 2015), there are several different streams of individual‐
level AP research. For example, some focus on identifying and
differentiating among several dimensions of AP (Pulakos et al., 2000;
Pulakos et al., 2002) across domains. Others have examined individual
differences thought to enhance AP, such as cognitive ability (Lang &
Bliese, 2009), self‐efficacy (Griffin & Hesketh, 2003), goal orientation
(Payne, Youngcourt, & Beaubien, 2007), and personality (Griffin et al.,
2007; LePine, Colquitt, & Erez, 2000; Stewart & Nandkeolyar, 2006).
Still others look to identify and understand the skills and processes
associated with domain‐specific change, such as in training programs
focused on relatively narrow job‐specific tasks (Bell & Kozlowski,
2002; Bell & Kozlowski, 2008; Heimbeck, Frese, Sonnentag, & Keith,
2003; Joung, Hesketh, & Neal, 2006; Kozlowski et al., 2001b).
Our focus is on coaching as provided by supervisors and managers
(e.g., Heslin, VandeWalle, & Latham, 2006; Hui, Sue‐Chan, & Wood,
2013) and its expected impact on subordinates' domain‐general AP
and related outcomes. Coaching, a component of effective leadership
(Campbell & Wiernik, 2015), is a goal‐oriented management practice
with a long history (Mace, 1950) in which the aim is to help employees
improve their performance and successfully adapt to changing
This research is based upon the first author's doctoral dissertation completed
under the supervision of the second author.
Received: 15 November 2016 Revised: 16 December 2017 Accepted: 18 December 2017
J Organ Behav. 2018;39:663–679. Copyright © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/job 663