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The Business Results of Coaching

Posted on : 19-02-2013 | By : Cathy | In : Coaching, Metrics, ROI


Without a doubt, coaching is the hottest approach to enhancing the performance of the people in an enterprise—whether it’s teams of coaches working with managers in a Fortune 500 company, transition coaching for new C-level executive hires, or coaches working with the owners of small businesses or sole proprietorships. It is clear from the increasing acceptance and investment in coaching, among the broad spectrum of business in many countries, that we believe coaching works.

But how well does it work? And how hard is it to measure?

In recent years, there have been a couple of detailed, well-documented studies that put the ROI of major coaching engagements within Fortune 500 companies between 600% and 700%, depending upon how improved retention was calculated.

But studies of this precision—funded by the corporate clients—are generally too costly to be meaningful as a sustained way of assessing the business benefits of coaching even at the level of large corporations.

Moreover, the issue of the benefits of coaching is, if anything, even more relevant to small business. For many firms considering hiring a coach, the notion of funding a major study to assess the results is laughable, yet it is critical that they be able to associate the benefits they are deriving from their investment in coaching.

To a certain extent, the challenge of measuring the benefits of coaching depends upon why the coach has been engaged in the first place. In some cases, the goal of a coaching engagement can be fairly easy to quantify—improving meeting management skills, for example. You can measure how many meetings start on time, how many end on time and survey meeting attendees for their evaluation of the effectiveness of the meeting. With a little imagination, such measures could be converted to hard dollar savings or productivity increases and an actual ROI developed.

Often, however, the connection between the behavior and the result isn’t so clear.

“One of the biggest challenges in measuring coaching is that tangible, behavioral change is usually linked to intangible mindsets and beliefs,” explains researcher Terry Bacon, of Lore International Institute. “Effective measurement strategies require that we make those intangibles measurable.”

Is it possible to capture all of those intangibles in some concrete, meaningful metric? The answer is generally “no, not precisely.” However, there are techniques that can be employed to evaluate the effectiveness of coaching and often to achieve a realistic estimate of the ROI. More importantly, setting up an evaluation process up front not only helps set performance expectations, but it can also make the coaching more effective. For example, coaching can be refocused to deal with issues or to ensure that business priorities will be met. In this way, the evaluation of coaching becomes more than just a measuring stick—it becomes a key approach to deepen the business value of coaching.

On Thursday’s post, I will continue with this topic by discussing the ROI metrics used, so please check in again.

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