How to measure coaching success…
Coaching has been a buzz word for the last few years. I remember when I started coaching and put up a website about 14 years ago, I was one of the few people offering coaching, and without trying I received lots of enquiries.
Now the market is swamped with people offering coaching of all sorts, particularly life coaching. In fact one party I once went to it seemed as if half the people there had been training to become life coaches.
Many of the life coach training programmes would be very short – even just a couple of days, and sometimes mainly be written assignments without much one to one practice (which sounds crazy when coaching is all about interacting with someone!).
Many companies I work with now view the term ‘life coach’ as almost a four letter word! Executive and performance coaches need a high level of training to deal with the needs of executives in an organisation. If involved in performance coaching, its often an advantage to know something about the area they are coaching also, although many coaching programmes say that knowledge of the area is unnecessary.
One important factor in business and executive coaching is in delivering results. Particularly in the current economic environment, results are critical to justify bringing in a coach.
There are both hard and soft benefits of coaching, however many coaches focus on the soft benefits, whereas organisations need to measure the hard benefits. Hard benefits are the measurable results that can be gained, such as increased sales figures, or reduced time taken for tasks. Soft benefits are things such as increased motivation and morale, which are more difficult to measure with figures.
Both types of benefits are very useful, however in business the hard benefits are usually most important to measure the success of coaching interventions.
Measuring hard benefits can be easier and quantative methodologies can be used to provide critical information about the success of the intervention.
What you measure will depend upon the purpose for the coaching. For example, one organisation I worked with wanted the partners of the organisation to increase their success in generating new business, when in the past they would never have wanted to be involved in this. Over a year, new business generated could directly be measured.
If the purpose is to increase sales, then this can be measures by sales figures directly.
However, the soft benefits are more challenging to measure because they usually requires more qualitative methods of research. Such methods may involve interviews, feedback forms and case studies where more of a ‘story’ is often formed revealing the benefits, such as job satisfaction and motivation.
Sometimes the soft benefits are most important, because a motivated and resourceful team will produce much better results, however because accurate measurement is more of a challenge is sometimes less appealing to organisations.
Therefore, how to measure the success of coaching interventions is largely down to the purpose of the coaching in the first place – are you looking for hard or soft benefits. Taking time to really consider the purpose and methodology to measure success is crucial to know if you are getting the results you want.