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What is the Optimal time for a Coaching Session?

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April 25, 2024
CEO, Founder & Executive Coach
3 min read
The optimal duration for business coaching sessions varies based on objectives, coachee engagement, and contextual factors. While some studies suggest longer relationships correlate with effectiveness, others emphasize the importance of objectives, with shorter sessions being ideal for quick decisions and longer ones for deeper discussions. Given the diverse findings, businesses should tailor coaching durations to their unique needs, taking into account goals, engagement levels, and context.

Unravelling the Optimal Duration for Business Coaching Sessions

Business coaching has become increasingly recognised as an effective developmental tool that enhances the effectiveness of leaders and teams, promotes strategic thinking, and fosters innovation in organisations. With an escalating demand for efficient and effective coaching, businesses often grapple with one question: What is the optimal duration for business coaching sessions?

The answers provided by empirical research are diverse, signifying the issue's complexity. This article will explore key studies to offer insights into the most effective duration for business coaching sessions.

The Duration-Outcome Relationship

According to a study by de Haan et al. (2013), the duration of a coaching relationship had a marginal positive correlation with the overall effectiveness of coaching. This finding suggests that there may be an optimal duration beyond which the benefits plateau and the efficiency decreases. However, the study did not specify an exact optimal duration [1].

Another research by Bozer and Jones (2018) highlighted the significance of the coachee's commitment to the process, implying that session length might be less important than consistent, engaged participation. The study recommended regular sessions over a prolonged period, such as 6 to 12 months, to allow for the internalisation and application of learning [2].

Short vs Long Sessions: A Matter of Depth and Breadth

In a systematic review of business coaching literature by Theeboom, Beersma, and van Vianen (2014), the authors suggested that the optimal duration of business coaching sessions depends on the coaching objectives. Short sessions (about 30 minutes) were found to be effective for problem-solving, quick decision-making, or skill-building. In contrast, longer sessions (over an hour) were more beneficial for in-depth discussions, self-reflection, and strategizing [3].

A Case for Flexibility: Contextual Factors

Jones, Woods, and Guillaume (2016) argued that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to the optimal duration of business coaching sessions. They emphasized the role of contextual factors like the coachee’s readiness for change, the complexity of the issues at hand, and the available resources [4].


In light of the existing research, it can be concluded that the optimal duration for business coaching sessions depends on several variables, including the coaching objectives, the coachee’s engagement, and the context.

While research provides broad guidance, each organisation should aim to adapt and innovate, tailoring the coaching process to meet their unique needs and circumstances.

More empirical research is needed to determine the most effective duration for business coaching sessions definitively. Future studies should continue to explore this topic more specifically and consider factors like coaching modality (in-person vs. virtual), industry-specific needs, and potential cultural influences on coaching efficacy.


  1. de Haan, E., Culpin, V., & Curd, J. (2013). Executive coaching in practice: what determines helpfulness for clients of coaching?. Personnel Review, 42(1), 24-44.
  2. Bozer, G., & Jones, R. J. (2018). Understanding the factors that determine workplace coaching effectiveness: a systematic literature review. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 27(3), 342-361.
  3. Theeboom, T., Beersma, B., & van Vianen, A. E. (2014). Does coaching work? A meta-analysis on the effects and factors of personal coaching and executive coaching. The Coaching Psychologist, 10(2), 198-207.
  4. Jones, R. J., Woods, S. A., & Guillaume, Y. R. (2016). The effectiveness of workplace coaching: A meta-analysis of learning and performance outcomes from coaching. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 89(2), 249-277.