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Exploration into building of coaching relationship for millennial Finns in Finland: a social constructionist approach

Lajola, J. (2021) Exploration into building of coaching relationship for millennial Finns in Finland: a social constructionist approach. DBA thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00106013


This is a social constructionist, inductive and exploratory study conducted within the Finnish culture. It investigated coaching pair formation in Finland between a coach and a coachee and, especially, the building of the coaching relationship. The project concentrated on the Finnish millennial generation, in contrast to other generations. Furthermore, the study examined what happens in the building of the coaching relationship and what elements foster coaching. The work began with an iterative literature review, which focused on coaching, the coaching relationship, generational issues, and Finnish cultural aspects, and due to the nature of the subject, the academic literature was complemented with practitioner literature. The literature review provided the foundation for the original topics or themes to be explored. The literature review was followed by three focus groups sessions: HR directors, professional coaches and millennial Finn coachees. The focus groups pondered the themes and provided individual outcomes. The results from the focus group sessions were reflected upon, and an interview protocol was created based on both the literature review and the focus groups. The investigation continued with semi-structured in-depth face-to-face interviews with fourteen coaches and fourteen millennial coachees. All the above informants were Finnish and embedded in the Finnish culture. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using framework analysis, which is a form of content analysis. For presentation, key passages of the transcripts were translated in English, and the quality of translations was verified by a professional translator. Several discoveries were made in the analysis. It was found that in Finland, no “matching” normally occurs at the beginning of the coaching contract, but coaching begins with an introductory session, which almost always results in a coaching contract. In addition, it was also found that individual coaching services offered by organizations to millennial Finns are often not very professional due to lack of funding and coaching is sometimes provided by an internal coach, such as managers acting as coaches, or in the form of team coaching. Furthermore, the study explored the coaching relationship with respect to a millennial Finn coachee. Relationship building is always the foundation in coaching, since it will determine whether openness (in Finnish, “avoimuus”) is achieved, which in turn will support and facilitate the creation of deep trust that is essential for coaching, especially for Finns. The study argues that, based on typical characteristics of the Finnish culture, “openness” is challenging for Finns, whereas in some other cultures, it occurs almost naturally. However, Abstract vi while a basic level of trust is almost automatically present in the Finnish culture, i.e. Finland is a trusting society, this study argues that creation of deep trust in Finland requires openness. The “openness” and “deep trust” are thus key factors to be understood and managed when coaching millennial Finns. The study will shed light on this interesting aspect of the Finnish culture and Finnish millennials and their impact on the coaching relationship. The study concludes that millennial Finns, with their generational attributes challenging hierarchies, constitute a special customer group for coaches. They require a coach with an ability to coach millennials. This ability is the sum of the coach’s traits, values, characteristics, coaching skills and positive interest towards coaching millennials, and this ability provides a platform for the coach to be in service for a Finnish millennial coachee. The coach must be fully focused and open to various signals and emotions the coachee is expressing, and the coach needs to support each coaching session with her/his ability, forge the coaching relationship onwards and fortify openness and deep trust. The ability of the coach is the heart of the coaching relationship for a millennial Finn.

Item Type:Thesis (DBA)
Thesis Supervisor:Stewart, J.-A. and Collins, C.
Thesis/Report Department:Henley Business School
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Henley Business School
ID Code:106013
Date on Title Page:September 2020


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