25 March 2024

AI-Enhanced Coaching

AI-Enhanced Coaching 

By Aoife Donovan Lee, Head of Research, and Innovation at Harvest 

March 2024 

Over the past several years, coaching has evolved into one of the most important modes of communication that promotes high-calibre reasoning, the creation of solutions, and performance-based advancement. The coach promotes a quality thinking environment by asking questions, keeping an open mind, holding their client accountable, offering helpful feedback, and actively listening. With the use of this formula, the coachee can find a solution to an issue, or create a strategy for moving forward with a goal. More organisations are embracing this research-based approach as best practice to raise and sustain employee performance. 


As the landscape of business coaching continues to grow and evolve, the potential and the threat posed by Artificial Intelligence (AI) remain significant topics of conversation among leaders, business owners and coaches. AI is ubiquitous, its presence in our world and its capacity to replace human occupations has recently broadened to the role of the coach. The purpose of AI in coaching, its benefits, and drawbacks, and how to use it to enhance coaching are shared in this article. 


What is AI Coaching?  

AI coaching is a methodical, machine-assisted process that supports coachees in establishing professional objectives and creating effective plans to meet those objectives. AI can also function as a digital tool that helps learners to practice skills by giving them feedback while they practice these skills. Feedback may consist of highlighting errors, making suggestions for enhancements, and praising the appropriate behaviour. 


Pros and Cons of AI Coaching 

The following recognises its potential benefits while also highlighting important ethical and practical challenges, both are addressed here. 


There are several benefits to utilising AI to enhance coaching practices, such as making coaching more accessible. Coaching can be expensive and traditionally viewed as time-consuming, and so historically, coaching has not scaled effectively. Organisations tend to restrict one-to-one executive coaching opportunities or limit them to senior and C-suite executives. As AI coaching is scalable, less expensive, and available around-the-clock, more and more people will be able to gain from some of the benefits of coaching. 


Research tells us managerial coaching improves performance, knowledge-sharing, and job satisfaction. Although managers might be aware of this, and workers want more coaching, time is scarce. Thanks to new AI technologies however, it is possible for managers to provide quality coaching efficiently and successfully, while effectively managing overload as described in a recent HBR article. 


AI coaching tools can also provide personalised learning experiences at scale (MIT Media Lab, 2024). This gives tailored advice and feedback that can be difficult or costly to replicate with human coaches or managers alone. 


Stanford University’s Human-Centred Artificial Intelligence Institute (2023) highlights another benefit to employees in AI’s efficiency in identifying patterns and providing insights from datasets, which enhance learning and performance outcomes.  


The World Economic Forum (2024) advocates for the integration of AI coaching into lifelong learning frameworks, emphasising its role in continuous skills development which is essential for adapting to a rapidly evolving job market. 


While benefits are plentiful, the consensus from research concludes that while AI coaching can supplement human coaching, it cannot fully replace the nuanced understanding and empathy of a human coach. AI is incapable of inviting the coachee to think about their internal contradictions and delving into exploring work-based interactions and behaviours, as recently covered in Stanford Magazine (2024). AI cannot explore all inhibitors and accelerators to motivate people to do the work or understand a person’s body language to dig deeper and find the core issue (LinkedIn, 2023).  


Additionally, the research community continue to raise concerns about the collection and analysis of personal data and how this data is leveraged by AI coaching tools. Considerable risk sits in AI systems inheriting biases from their training data or their developers (Forbes, 2023; Stanford Magazine, 2023). This could potentially lead to unfair or skewed coaching advice. When seeking advice developed by AI, caution is advised for both coaches and AI users alike. 


For the Coaching Practitioner 

While studies suggest that AI won’t replace human coaches in the near future, the challenge is for practitioners of coaching to leverage AI to work in their favour rather than fear it. People managers and coaches can use AI to help them in a variety of ways. Here are some ideas:  


  1. Completing Administrative Tasks:  
  • Automated Scheduling and Reminders: Calendar management, coaching session scheduling based on coach and coachee availability, and automatic reminders for both can be accomplished via AI-powered solutions (LinkedIn, 2023).  
  • Client Management Systems: AI can assist with report generation and progress tracking over time. These systems can analyse data to reveal information on coachee engagement levels, enhanced thinking and areas that need greater attention (Technology Advice, 2024).  
  • Invoice and Payment Processing: For business owner-coaches, the financial aspects of coaching can be streamlined using AI technologies to create and send invoices automatically, track payments, and issue reminders for past-due payments (LinkedIn, 2023). 
  • Preparing for Coachee Engagements:  
  • Personalised Coaching Plans: AI can analyse data from coachee assessments to suggest personalised coaching plans tailored to each coachee’s needs, goals, and progress, enhancing the effectiveness of coaching sessions (eLearning, 2024) 
  • Predictive Analytics: Based on previous interactions and performance data, AI can identify potential problems areas, enabling coaches to proactively address these in forthcoming sessions (LinkedIn, 2023). 
  • Marketing (for business owner-coaches):  
  • Personalised Marketing Content: By analysing data, AI may identify a coach’s target market and provide customised marketing collateral that’s more likely to pique the interest of potential customers (LinkedIn, 2023).  
  • Social Media Management: AI solutions can assist with social posting, content suggestions based on popular and niche topics, and engagement metrics analysis to improve marketing efforts (LinkedIn, 2023).  
  • SEO Optimisation: AI can recommend changes to the coach’s website and content to increase visibility in search engine results and draw in more potential clients by studying search trends and keywords (HubSpot, 2024). 




In summary, AI makes coaching more accessible to a wider audience, breaking down barriers related to cost and availability. AI technologies enable managers to provide effective coaching without being overwhelmed, addressing the high demand for coaching among employees. AI coaching tools offer personalised learning experiences, tailored advice and feedback that is difficult to achieve with human coaches alone. AI’s ability to analyse large datasets can uncover patterns and insights, enhancing learning and performance outcomes.  


Despite the benefits, AI cannot replicate the deep, empathetic understanding and motivational capabilities of human coaches. The use of personal data by AI tools raises significant privacy concerns, and there is a risk of inherent biases affecting the fairness of coaching advice.  


For HR professionals, coaches, and people managers, it is recommended that they familiarise themselves with how similar support services can use AI to enhance managerial practices. We should leverage AI coaching as a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, human coaching to combine the strengths of both approaches.  


Ultimately, AI coaching has the potential to completely transform the coaching sector. We can use AI to supplement human coaching and improve the coaching experience for both coaches and coachees by tackling the ethical, practical, and technological issues head-on. As we move forward, it becomes increasingly clear that the intersection of human understanding and AI skills will serve as the basis for effective, ethical, and transformative coaching techniques. 



Insights for this article were drawn from sources including, ICF 2024, Forbes 2023, Boardman 2023, eLearning 2024, Chief Learning Officer 2019, HBR, 2023, Poplevina 2024, MIT Media Lab 2023 and Standford HCAII 2024,