Measuring the Effectiveness of Coaching : Where Rigour Meets Practicality

July 3, 2014 Tracy Cocivera

Written by Sonya Stevens and Tracy Cocivera

We know coaching works.  But many organizations are under increased scrutiny and need quantitative evidence (the numbers) to justify the spend. This can put pressure on internal HR/OD leaders as it creates extra work for those who already have overflowing desks. We have some good news… measuring the effectiveness of coaching doesn’t have to be onerous. 

Over the past year Knightsbridge has been partnering with a client organization to leverage best practice research in a way that is practical. Over the next series of blogs, we will share with you what we have implemented and found to be valuable.

For this first blog we will focus on what is important to measure:

  • Measure more than just the experience. Typically coaching evaluations focus on the usefulness of the experience (i.e., whether the coachee enjoyed the coaching). However, there is an opportunity to gain more robust information for your efforts. To ensure you are getting value from coaching and pinpointing areas for improvement, you can easily create an electronic survey to be completed by the coachees that includes questions  on the following:  the coach, the coaching process, individual leadership change, and the impact on the business.

Sample “Coach” Questions:  My coach listened to me and understood my perspective; My coach provided constructive and valuable feedback; I would use this coach again (Sample scale:  Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree)

Sample “Coaching Process” Questions: The program was long enough to help me see real progress;  I was clear on the objectives of the coaching process (Sample scale:  Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree)

Sample open-ended “Impact” Questions:  What are you doing differently that you may not have done without coaching?; What tangible results have you seen as a result of the coaching process? In your own performance? In your team?

  • Measure the change of leadership effectiveness as a result of coaching.  The mistake many make is thinking about evaluation at the end of the coaching engagement.  And this is a  missed opportunity to assess real change.   You can start by establishing an initial baseline  at the beginning of the engagement from which to measure future change. To measure real progress you need to use the same measures again at the end of the coaching engagement. This can be in the form of a qualitative or quantitative 360 or as simple as rating effectiveness on targeted behaviours on a 5 point scale (e.g., ranging from ineffective to highly effective). 
  • Leverage data you already have. Don’t make it hard on yourself. You can use existing metrics that are easily available to show impact (e.g., sales numbers, employee engagement for specific teams, performance ratings.
  • Measure Progress on Individual Coaching Goals: Make sure you are measuring how well people do on the goals they set at the beginning of their coaching engagement. This is the outcome coachees have the most control over, as it is the targeted change they committed to working towards throughout the coaching engagement.

Sample Question:  Please rate your current level of performance related to each of your developmental goals (sample scale: needs some improvement to highly competent)

  • Measure the impact of coaching on strategic imperatives.  To prove the value of coaching to your business, a useful strategy is to measure its impact on initiatives that are important to your business. For example, we worked with a client who was working to increase the number of women in senior leadership roles. Because this was important to them, we asked if coaching had increased their willingness and readiness to take on roles at the next level.

Sample Question for an organization looking to retain high potentials: My coaching experience enhanced my interest in taking on a role at the next level.

Now that you have a sense of what to measure, let us know your experience in implementing these simple, yet effective suggestions.  Watch for our next blog for more suggestions on how to implement your coaching evaluation strategy. 

About the Author

Tracy Cocivera

Dr. Tracy Cocivera is a Business Psychologist and a Principal with Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge Leadership Solutions. For over 12 years, Tracy has contributed to the success of leaders and their teams across many industries, including retail, technology, financial services, and energy and natural resources From established executives to emerging executives, Tracy partners with her clients to help them manage their organization and their careers in order to achieve significant business results.

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