When you engage a coach for one of your employees, how do you know if it was a good investment? As a leader, you have a set amount of funds for development, and you want to get the most out of those funds. The challenge is being able to articulate the outcome of that investment. In many cases, people go by gut feel that “it appears to have helped her be a better leader,” but they may not be able to fully articulate how that person‘s behavior changed.
Yes, in a few cases it may be as apparent as a 20-pound weight loss in just a few weeks’ time. However, most of the change occurs over time, and you may not fully notice the impact, since you adjust to the incremental changes. Both cases include important sustainable change that can be measured and articulated.
In 2019, in an effort to provide a data-based approach, TBG focused on acquiring quantitative data that assesses the value and impact of coaching. We began a beta test in January but found that the data was not as actionable as we wanted it to be, and the process proved to be inefficient. We modified the approach and rolled out a second test starting in April. While we are still working to gather enough data to fully vet the new approach, it is already providing actionable data in a more efficient way.
In our first test, we were only gathering data from the person coached. While it is valuable to understand the coachee experience, we were getting a biased, one-sided view of impact.
Our new approach is two-fold. Now we not only seek the coachee experience, but also survey the person who contracted with TBG (the customer), the one who initially saw a developmental need that could be best fulfilled by coaching. Generally, this is the leader of the coachee or the HR partner.
The questions for the leader focus on the extent to which the desired outcomes of the coaching were achieved, and on the impact to the organization. To do this, we capture these desired outcomes up front during contracting for services, and then measure against those in the end.
The survey data helps us understand multiple variables that are involved in providing a better overall experience and outcome for our customers. First, we accurately understand the customer’s needs up front (the true reason for the coaching) so that all parties can make sure coaching is the right mechanism for the change.
Second, we ask to what extent actual changes met the desired outcomes. This may trigger the need for more data, so we then engage in conversation with the customer to deeply understand what got in the way and adjust accordingly for the future. We assess if it’s related to the coach and process, or the engagement of the coachee and/or the coachee’s leader in the process, or some unforeseen element.
Third, we assess the value of the coaching. Among other questions, we directly ask to what extent the coaching was worth the company’s dollar investment. This is a scary question for a coach to ask, but it is well worth it. This tells us that we were clear on our value proposition and provided that value.
We are in the early phases of measurement, but we have found it is well worth the investment in time, focus, and technology. Experimentation, testing, and retesting is helpful in putting this process in place. If you are struggling to use a measurement method or want to share learnings, send me an email, I am happy to talk.