Original Research

Conditions for coaching to contribute to the adjustment of black African professionals

Heidi M. le Sueur, Valerie Tapela
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 16 | a946 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v16i0.946 | © 2018 Heidi M. Le Sueur, Valerie Tapela | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 April 2017 | Published: 10 July 2018

About the author(s)

Heidi M. le Sueur, University of Stellenbosch Business School, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
Valerie Tapela, Leading Within, Cape Town, South Africa

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Orientation: Efforts to attract and retain black African professionals in Cape Town-based organisations are often met with challenges. Coaching has been identified as a potential strategic contributor for developing a sense of inclusivity and successful adjustment for black African professionals.

Research purpose: The study investigated the contribution that coaching makes and aimed at understanding the conditions required for coaching to support the adjustment process during relocation.

Motivation for the study: Too little is known in South Africa of how coaching can impact the adjustment during relocation. There is a need to identify key conditions that would enable a successful coaching process for migrating groups in the larger South African context.

Research design/approach and method: A qualitative inductive methodology approach was followed to guide the study, consisting of 11 in-depth interviews with three different professional groups to elicit various perspectives.

Main findings: It can be concluded that coaching contributes to black African professionals’ adjustment to living and working in South Africa. The success of the coaching outcome and capability for adjustment depends on the individual, the coach and the environment in which they work. The supporting conditions that were commonly found from the three professional groups were support and space for the individual, while depth and match played a key role according to coaches and human resource (HR) professionals.

Practical/managerial implications: This article provides guidelines and recommendations for HR and senior managers in any organisation that experiences a complexity infused by racial and cultural diversity within its internal and external context. The study shows ways in which coaching as a tool can be useful in dealing with cross-cultural dynamics that prevail in South Africa and South Africa-based organisations especially during relocation adjustment.

Contribution/value-add: The body of knowledge contributes to understanding coaching in a diverse society reflected in cross-cultural organisations and the key conditions influencing the coaching intervention during an adjustment process.


coaching; adjustment; black African professionals; Cape Town; South Africa


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