Acta Universitatis Danubius. Œconomica, Vol 12, No 3 (2016)

Managerial Coaching in Enhancing Employees’ Motivation

Azman Ismail1, Nursaadatun Nisak Ahmad2, Azmi Zainol3

Abstract: This study aims to measure the relationship between managerial coaching and employees’ motivation. Survey method was employed to collect survey data via questionnaires distributed to mid-level officers at a military training center in Peninsular Malaysia. The results of hypothesis testing using SmartPLS path model analysis showed two important findings. First, communication did not significantly correlate with employees’ motivation. Second, management support was significantly correlated with employees’ motivation. These findings confirmed that communication is not an important determinant of employees’ motivation, and management support is an important determinant of employees’ motivation in the studied organizations. Furthermore, discussion, implications and conclusions are also elaborated.

Keywords: Communication; Management Support and employees Motivation

JEL Classification: M1

1. Introduction

The concept of Managerial Coaching is named as a new effective management and leadership behavior in organizations. It has been recognized as a relatively new practice for HRD and management whereby it contributes to the importance of enhancing employees’ productivity and development (Ellinger et al, 2014; Egan, 2013). According to operational definition, coaching is a process which guides and leads employees towards the achievement of the objectives of the employee and organization, as well as improve existing skills, efficiency and performance; and thus, improve the effectiveness of employees (Peltier, 2010). In organizations, an employer establishes a human resource development and management to plan and implement managerial coaching to enhance organizational and employees’ career development. This coaching program emphasizes on using knowledge, equipment and opportunities to guide employees to be effective workers. These workers are highly eager to use optimum potentials in doing daily job, solve growth resistances and problems, enhance organizational productivity and realize organizational strategy and goals (Grant & Cavanagh, 2011; Egan, 2013; Merwe & Sloman, 2013).

Traditionally, many employers implement managerial coaching programs as a way to solve daily job weaknesses and increase daily performance of their employees and teams (Bacon & Spear, 2003; Feldman, 2005; Kampa-Kokesch & Anderson, 2001; Izaskun Rekalde Jon Landeta Eneka Albizu, 2015). Nonetheless, despite the importance of this coaching approach, it may not be strategic for the future. Coaching is one of the tools that aims to contribute and assist in the development of strategies of the personal and professional growth of manager (Izaskun Rekalde Jon Landeta Eneka Albizu, 2015). In an era of global competition, many excellent organizations have shifted their paradigms from a traditional job based managerial coaching to contemporary based managerial coaching in order to support their organizations’ strategies and cultures (Analoui, 1999; DeSimone et al., 2002; Ellinger et al., 2014). Under this new coaching approach, management and supporting staff are aware that they need to work together in improving the quality of employees’ roles and functions as well as to motivate them to learn new knowledge, up to date skills, latest abilities and other capabilities consistent with their organizations’ needs and expectations (Sherman, & Freas, 2004; Peltier, 2010).

A review of the recent literature pertaining workplace training highlights that effective managerial coaching has two salient features: communication and management support (DeSimone et al., 2002; Ellinger et al., 2014). From the managerial coaching perspective, communication is commonly defined as management uses of communication openness in delivering information about coaching programs to employees who are of different job levels and classifications (Gilley, 2000; Liraa, Ripolla, Peiro′ b and Zornoza, 2013). For example, direct relationship between coach and coachees through effective and clear communication can help the coachees to improve their performance and motivate them to continue studying in work-related courses (Jeanette, 2013; Zornoza, 2013). In addition, management support is broadly defined as management that provides physical and moral support to employees before, during and after coaching programs (Merwe, & Sloman, 2013). Result from previous research showed that a highly supportive management can enhance employees’ engagement and performance in performing their tasks (Rekalde, Landeta & Albizu, 2015).

Surprisingly, extant studies in workplace coaching program reveal that the ability of management to appropriately implement communication and support in the design and administration of coaching program may have a significant impact on employees’ motivation (Egen, 2013; Catrin Johansson Vernon D. Miller Solange Hamrin, 2014). From a training management perspective, employees’ motivation is normally defined as an interest and attitude that influence trainees to attend, learn and master the knowledge, skills and abilities, as well as have positive attitude towards their fields. This content explains that, employee motivation can encourage an individual to transfer what he or she has learned from trainings to the organization (Catrin, 2014).

In organizational coaching model, many scholars believed that communication, management support, and employees’ motivation are distinct, but interconnected concepts. For example, the ability of management to openly communicate the information about coaching program to employees and adequately provide support to employees may lead to greater employees’ motivation in organizations (Myeong-Gu Seo, 2014; Jeanette, 2013). Even though the relationship has been widely discussed, the role of managerial coaching as an important determinant has been given less attention in organizational training model. This situation may be caused by several factors. First, coaching activities in the organization are not clear. Usually, coaching duties are carried out by direct manager or direct report to the employees. Due to problems in terms of time constraint, coaching is reported to be a common activity and is not emphasized in detail; and despite coaching duties served as an essential service, these duties have not been evaluated for specific objectives (Gilley, 2000, Bass & Bass, 2008, Myeong-Gu Seo, 2014). Second, since implementation of Managerial coaching involves those employees of middle and lower-income groups, the concern about the role of managerial coaching is not widely discussed. This is because most organizations nowadays are more interested in the development of their senior and executive employees who greatly impact the direction and strategic development of the organization through executive coaching research (Goldsmith & Lyon 2006, Ellinger, 2014).

2. Purpose of the Study

This study has two major objectives; first, to measure the relationship between communication and employees’ motivation. Second, it is conducted to measure the relationship between management support and employees’ motivation.

3. Literature Review

Some previous studies had been carried out by applying a direct effect model to study the effects of Coaching Management on employee motivation using different samples, such as the 151 employees of Southeastern health care facility (Milton Mayfield, 2010), 353 workers from the electronics company (Hill, Yeung Jae Kang, Myeong-Gu Seo, 2014), a total of 469 businesses from the Korean banking industry (Jaewon et. al 2013), and 234 respondents drawn from a number of South Korean private companies (Peltier, 2012). The findings of those studies showed that the effectiveness of a coaching program contributed to work effectiveness through individual encouragement (motivation). In addition, the findings also showed that the motivation of workers is affected by the support shown by the manager or management (Myeong-Gu Seo, 2014; Sewon Kim, 2014).

The relationship between Managerial Coaching and employee motivation is consistent with the recommendations put forward by the theories of motivation. As an example, a goal-setting theory states that it can cause an individual to perform a task. In addition, the relationship between the role of communication and motivation of the employees has the support of the theory of motivation-based language. The principles of this theory are used to explain the role of a chairman in ensuring effective communication process. This is because it will encourage employees to improve their performance through mutual relationship, as shown by the coaches and trainers (Mayfield and Field, 2007; Sullivan 1988). Besides that, the Leadership Path Goal theory also explains how managers and coaches play an important role in influencing employee motivation and focusing on individual and organizational goals. This theory also explains the role of Managerial Coaching as one of the effective methods to ensure the effectiveness of the organization to manage and improve the understanding of the direction of the employee (Mayfield and Field, 2007; Jaewon et. Al., 2013). For example, leaders or managers in organizations will lead the workers towards the desired goal, which is in line with goals set by the organization.

Based on the above discussion, the hypotheses to be tested are:

H1: There is a positive relationship between communication and employee motivation

H2: There is a positive relationship between management support and employee motivation.

4. Methodology

4.1. Research Design

This study employed a cross-sectional research design which allowed the researchers to integrate the pay structure literature and the real survey as the main procedure to collect data. This procedure may help the researchers to gather accurate data, decrease bias and increase quality of data being collected (Aimi 2014; Azman et al. 2014; Sekaran & Bougie, 2013). This study was conducted at a military training center in Peninsular Malaysia. In order to avoid intrusiveness, the name of this organization is kept anonymous. At the initial stage of this study, the researchers had drafted questionnaires based on the relevant past literature. After that, a pilot study was conducted by discussing the questionnaire with 20 administrative and academic employees in the organizations. These employees were selected using purposive sampling technique because they already have working experiences ranging from 10 to 20 years, and possessed good knowledge and experience about the management of compensation programs in their organizations. The information gathered from this pilot study helped researchers to improve the content and format of the questionnaires for the actual study.

4.2. Measurement

The questionnaire is consisted of three major parts: first, communication has 5 items adapted from the research literature related to the open communication (Beheshtifar, M. & Vazir-Panah, Z. 2012; Cianciolo& Bickley, 2011; George & Singh, 2000; Maimunah, 2014; Mohd. Nasir, 2008; Patrick et al., 2009). The dimensions used to measure this concept are in terms of teaching pointers, facilitators, experts and administrators. Second, management support has 7 items that have been modified from the literature study with the support of management (Azman & Sofiah, 2007; DeSimone, 2002; Elangovan & Karakowsky, 1999; Gade et al., 2003; Nijman et al., 2005; Yamnill & McLean, 2001). The dimensions used to measure this concept are in terms of moral support and material such as financial assistance, the welfare of individuals and families, involvement of employees in decision-making and guidance provided to workers in applying learned competencies. Finally, employee motivation is represented by 12 items that have been modified from the literature study with the support of the management. The dimensions used to measure this concept were taken from the aspects of whether it could motivate trainees to attend, learn and master the knowledge, skills, abilities and develop positive attitude in the program (Azman et al., 2010b; Azman & Inani, 2010c; Chiaburu & Tekleab, 2005; Lim et al., 2005; Nikandrou et al., 2009; Patrick et al., 2009; Scadutto et al., 2008; Tai, 2006) and organizational of commitment (Abd Hair et al., 2010; Madi et al., 2011; Mullen et al., 2006; Sahanidis & Bouris, 2008). All items used in the questionnaire were measured using a 7-item scale ranging from “very strongly disagree/dissatisfied” (1) to “very strongly agree/satisfied” (7). Demographic variables were used as controlling variables because this study only focused on employee attitudes.

4.3. Sample

A convenient sampling technique was used to select 120 mid-level officers in the studied organizations before the questionnaires were distributed to them. This sampling technique was chosen because the list of registered officers was not given to the researchers for confidentiality reason; and this has prevented the researchers from randomly selecting participants in the organizations. From 120 questionnaires distributed, 92 usable questionnaires were returned to the researches, yielding 77% response rate. Before the participants answered the survey questions, their consents were first obtained; and it was on a voluntarily basis.

4.4. Data Analysis

The SmartPLS was employed to assess the validity and reliability of questionnaires’ data, and further test the research hypotheses. The main advantage of using this method is because it may deliver latent variable scores, avoid small sample size problems, estimate complex models with many latent and manifest variables and error terms, and handle both reflective and formative measurement models (Henseler et al. 2009). The path coefficients for measuring a structural model use the standardized beta (β) and t statistics (t > 1.96). The value of R2 is used as an indicator of the overall predictive strength of the model. The value of R2 is considered as follows: 0.19 (weak), 0.33 (moderate) and 0.67 (substantial) (Chin 1998; Henseler et al. 2009; Rozila, 2013).

5. Findings

5.1. Respondent Profile

In terms of sample profile, all respondents were males (100%), aged between 21 to 25 years old (34.8%), bachelor degree holders (54.3%), captains and lieutenants (81.5%), working experiences less than 5 years (50%), and platoon leaders (72.8%).

Table 1. Sample Profile

Participant Characteristics



Percentage (100%)









21 to 25 years old

26 to 30 years old

31 to 35 years old

> 36 years old




























Length of Service

Training Experience

1 to 5 years

6 to 10 years

  1. to15 years

16 to 21 years

22 years


Company Leader

Platoon Leader





















STPM/HSC: Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia/Higher School Certificate

SPM/MCE: Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia/Malaysia Certificate of Education

SRP/LCE : Sijil Rendah Pelajaran/Lower Certificate Education

5.2. Confirmatory Factor Analysis

Table 2 shows the result of validity and reliability of the construct. Items of each construct have met the standards of validity and reliability analyses since their values exceeded 0.70 (Fornel & Larcker 1981; Gefen & Straub 2005). Besides that, each construct had composite values exceeding 0.80, indicating that the measurement scales had a high internal consistency (Chua 2006; Henseler et al. 2009).

Table 2. The results of factor loadings and cross loadings for different constructs


No. of Items

Cross Loading

Composite Reliability





Management Support




Employees’ Motivation




Table 3 shows that the loadings of variables are stronger on their own constructs, i.e. greater than 0.7 which are considered adequate for the factor loadings (Chin, 2001). Besides that, all constructs’ AVE values are larger than 0.5; indicating that they met the acceptable standard of convergent validity (Fornell & Larcker, 1981; Henseler et al., 2009). Further, all constructs values of √ AVE in diagonal are greater than the squared correlation with other constructs in off-diagonal, indicating that all constructs met the acceptable standard of discriminant validity (Henseler et al., 2009; Yang, 2009).

Table 3. Results of convergent and discriminant validity analyses











Management Support




Employee Motivation







Unstandardized Coefficients

Standardized Coefficients



Collinearity Statistics


Std. Error


















Management Support








a. Dependent Variable: motivate.

Table 4 shows that the mean values for the variables are from 5.73 to 6.08, showing that the levels of communication, management support and employees’ motivation ranged from high (4) to highest level (7). The values of variance inflation factor for the correlation between the independent variable (communication and management support) and the dependent variable (employees’ motivation) are less than 0.10, showing that the data are not affected by serious collinearity problem (Hair, et al., 2012).

Table 4. Variance Inflation Factor and descriptive statistics





Pearson Correlation Analysis




1. Communication




2. Management






3. Employee

Motivation 6.08 .821 .56** .58** 1


5.3. Outcomes of Testing Hypothesis

Figure 1 presents the outcomes of testing a direct effects model using SmartPLS path model. The inclusion of communication and management support in the analysis explained 28 percent of the variance in dependent variable. Specifically, the results of testing research hypotheses displayed two important findings: first, communication is insignificantly correlated with employees’ motivation (β=0.013; t=0.075); therefore, H1 is not supported. Second, management support is significantly correlated with employees’ motivation (β=0.516; t=2.91); therefore, H2 is supported. The result demonstrates that communication is not an important determinant of employees’ motivation, and management support is an important determinant of employees’ motivation in the studied organizations.

Further to the above hypothesis testing, a test of accuracy of the estimate (predictive relevance) using Stone-Geisser, the Q2 test had been carried out as specified: q2 = Q2included-Q2excluded / 1-Q2included = 0.331 (Hair et al., 2012); and it was found that the Q2 = 0.331 is above the standard, that is greater than zero (Henseler et al., 2009). Therefore, these findings generally support the expected accuracy SmartPLS route model used in this study.

Independent Variable

(Managerial Coaching Features)

Dependent Variable



Employees’ Motivation

(β=0.013; t=0.075)

AutoShape 11

Management Support

(β=0.516; t=2.91)

AutoShape 12

Figure 1. The Outcomes of SmartPLS Path Model Showing the Relationship

between Training Assignment and Trainees’ Motivation

Note: Significant at * t > 1.96

6. Discussion and Implication

The findings of this study show that communication does not act as an important determinant of employees’ motivation while management support does act as an important determinant of employees’ motivation in the studied organization. In the context of this study, majority of the respondents perceived that the levels of communication, management support and employees’ motivation are high. This indicates that communication openness is actively practiced in coaching activities; but it is unable to enhance employees’ motivation. Conversely, management has adequately provided physical and moral support to employees in coaching activities and this practice may lead to enhanced employees’ motivation in the organizations.

This study provides three major implications: theoretical contribution, robustness of research methodology and practical contribution. In terms of theoretical contribution, this study reveals two important findings: First, management support has been able to increase employees’ motivation. This finding also supports and extends those studies by Lyne de Ver H, Kennedy F (2011) and Sukanlaya Sawang (2010). Second, communication has not been able to increase employees’ motivation programs. A thorough review on the outcomes of the semi-structured interview in this finding may be affected by external factors: first, respondents who have different service and personal backgrounds may have different values and judgments about the impact of implementing communication openness in coaching programs. Second, the nature of military organization emphasizes on tall structure, high centralization and high distance power. This condition restricts communication openness because relationship between officers who have different job levels and classifications are strictly bounded by military rules and orders.

With respect to the robustness of research methodology, the questionnaire used in this study has met the requirements of validity and reliability analyses. This may lead to its ability to produce accurate and reliable findings. With regard to practical contribution, the findings of this study may be used to improve the design and administration of coaching programs of army officers. This objective will be met if management focuses on the following aspects: first, organizational psychological training content and methods assignment for high rank army officers should be emphasized and in line with the tasks performed. In order to provide credible leaders who are effective and efficient, military team has drawn up a leadership training syllabus that must be taken by all personnel, according to rank and position held. These activities directly train leader or manager to be a coach to his subordinates (Jeanette Maritz., 2013). This facilitates the transfer of training. Second, assignment practiced in military style is more militaristic which is clearly covered in the basic task of a soldier. The primary role of an infantry battalion in the Corps is to find and get closer to the enemy, to kill or conquer, plunder and occupy the area and repel the attacks during the day and night, regardless of season, weather or soil conditions. Therefore, based on the leading role and modernization, Kor lnfantri TDM requires a membership profile that is bold, aggressive and feared, as well as professionals who are willing to shoulder the responsibility. The membership profile can be developed with good and effective training. Third, the context of participation in this study does not only involve the employees, but the management of the organization should also play a role in ensuring that the assigned tasks are smoothly carried out.

7. Conclusion and Future Recommendations

This study proposed a conceptual framework based on the Managerial Coaching practices research literature. The exploratory factor analysis showed that the instrument of this study had met the acceptable standards of validity and reliability analyses. Furthermore, SmartPLS model analysis confirmed outcomes of Managerial Coaching measurement like communication and management. Based on the result, communication does not have significant correlation with employees’ motivation, therefore H1 is not supported. Second, management support significantly correlates with employees’ motivation, and therefore H2 is supported. This result explains management support is an important factor which influences employees’ motivation among middle-level officials of the Malaysian Army. On the other hand, communication factor is not influential for employees’ motivation in studied organization. This occurs due to the work culture of the military departments that affects the communication style adopted. Since the military culture emphasizes on coherence and rules as a mandatory form of instruction, the role of communication cannot be clearly seen as an important contributing factor to employee motivation. In addition, employees also assume that communication takes place in work environment in which rules must be observed continuously.

The conclusion drawn on the basis of these findings must take into account the limits of the conceptual framework and methodology of the study. First, the cross-sectional method used in this study could not detect dynamic changes and patterns of relationships between variables, and variables that are more specialized in the study sample. Secondly, this study does not highlight the relationship between specific indicators for the independent variables and the dependent variable. Third, the decision analysis model SmartPLS passage only describes the level of training transfer variants that are affected by the variable-variables involved in this study. Finally, this study uses only the 92 respondents from middle-level officials of the Malaysian Army selected through purposive sampling technique. Therefore, this study only seeks to anticipate the pattern of the relationship between the dependent variables of the study in general and it may not be generalized to different organizations.

For future discussion, a research on the expected limitations could be used as a guide to improve the study. Among the actions that can be taken: First, some personal and organizational characteristics should be explored in greater depth as these can better show the impact of the implementation of the coaching of the employees. Second, the design- a method of research that is more reliable such as a longititudinal study should be used to collect data, elaborate pattern of relationships, the direction and degree of firmness of the relationship between independent variables and the dependent variable. Third, future research should include more respondents as to ensure the accuracy and validity of the findings. Fourth, the independent variables and the dependent variable also need to be taken into account in future studies, whereby selected variable can contribute to the novelty concept. Besides, indirectly it may also be interesting to discuss about the variable’s relationship with the framework. If the above proposals are taken into account it could help to produce more robust findings in the future.

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1 Associate Professor, PhD, Faculty of Economics & Management, National University of Malaysia (UKM), Malaysia, Address: 43600 UKM Bangi, Selangor D.E., Malaysia, Corresponding

2 Postdoctoral studies, PhD, Graduate School of Business, National University of Malaysia (UKM), Malaysia, Address: 43600 UKM Bangi, Selangor D.E., Malaysia, E-mail:

3 PhD, Faculty of Defence and Management Studies, National Defence University of Malaysia, Malaysia, Address: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, E-mail:

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