With the recession going on or not, we all know that budgets can be tight for learning & development in organisations. When pitching for an assignment the question of how to measure coaching success often marks the make or break point. Measuring success is necessary for organisations to keep their costs under control but also important for coaches as it states their credibility and professionalism. To many executives in the business world coaching is still a fairly new discipline and many might doubt how coaching could bring any real value. Therefore it is important to introduce coaching to as many decision makers as possible and prove to them that on a bigger scale each and every one of them will benefit. Not to underestimate is also the high pressure of internal politics. Sponsors need to justify money they spend on coaching to other stakeholders. That´s why it is immensely important that the general mission as well as the return on investment needs to be made transparent to effected stakeholders throughout the organisation.
What and how to measure depends on the nature of the business, department and topic the coach is ask to facilitate. Some results will be shown just within the department receiving coaching; others will effect related departments, even the entire organisation. Both parties should only agree on measurements they are actually able to influence and get access to results. The bigger and more complex the organisation, the more factors need to be considered and the circumstances in reaching targets are often highly complex. Also the usual ups and downs on the market can become important factors.
It is extremely important that the corporate client as well as the sponsor fully understand the impact coaching is able to deliver. Coaching will never be a magic wand as it is based upon the commitment to change. The best way to do this is engaging the client’s representative or stakeholder in a coaching session working towards the session goal of defining measurements. Most of these indicators are produced by organisations on a regular basis in order to control their operations.
Examples of measurement can be:
Performance Rates, KPIs and Balanced Scorecard
Many organisations are using performance measurement instruments like KPI (Key Performance Indicator) or Balanced Scorecard to monitor success. Already in place in many organisations they produce detailed data to evaluate a wide range of influences such as the outcome of programs about change, leadership and learning & development. Individuals who like their job and feel valued by the organisation show higher performance. Coaching is able to install or reinstall motivation and trust towards the organisation which will lead to more output. Also it can help a coachee to improve its performance by improving the way to handle and organise workload.
Inside or staff surveys
Inside surveys are one the most adequate tools to measure coaching results, which makes it the most reliable measurement for a coach to commit to. These surveys are taken amongst individuals or units within the organisation; they are structured, independent and anonymous. The coach can either create its own survey -taken before and after sessions- or could use the organisation’s existing surveys. It will give the coach and the organisation the ability to measure direct impact on the people themselves collecting both quantitative and qualitative data.
Coaching the sales force of an organisation is widely spread, as it is one of the most influential departments. The results are visible at quite early stages of the coaching process, because this department is relying on motivation and mental strength. Sales targets are often well communicated throughout the organisation, success is celebrated openly.
Turnover and profit
Measuring turnover is another great possibility to prove the coaching effect. Both values are the most precise figures and they are available and communicable in each and every organisation. Their meaning is basic general business knowledge and therefore easy to understand for most people. At the end of the day the goal each organisation is aiming for is higher turnover and/or increase in profit.
Key marketing figures show how the organisation is experienced from the outside. Market research is a common tool to get opinions about the organisation’s image. As coaching can influence the culture in such a drastic way, externals are actually able to sense the development and change the organisation is undergoing. Especially culture, product or branding changes are visible.
Key HR figures
Measuring key HR figures is the most precise figure based tool to get an inside view about how individuals are coping within the organisation. Key figures provided by HR can be:
- Number of leavers– a higher rate of people leaving the organisation can be seen as a sign for unhappiness and disappointment in the job and the organisation itself. Leaving the organisation means loss of trust and lack of belief that there is a future for the individual.
- Number of applications – a higher rate of applications is a sign for the good image an organisation has on the job market as a good and trustworthy employer. Positive word to mouth in the market is evidence that the external world has received the message that the organisation is a good place to be and to be developed.
- Number of promotions – a higher number of people getting promoted is a clear sign for successful individual development. This will send a positive message to all staff members.
- Number of joiners – a higher rate of joiners means the organisation is growing successfully. It is also interesting to take a closer look on the quality of joiners and see if the organisation is more able to attract high potential talent.
- Recruitment costs – coaching can lead to lower recruitment costs by developing staff, which is already part of the organisation.
- Costs for trials about employment law – organisations are often forced to spend a lot of resources being taken to court by individuals who are convinced being treated unlawfully. Individuals who have or have had a good relationship with others in the organisation are more likely to avoid legal conflicts. Conflict resolution and leadership style are playing major roles.
- Rate of absence/sickness – unhappy staff members are more likely to be absent or sick. If a person is under the impression that the organisation is not valuing it, this person avoids being in the organisation.
Satisfaction about leadership style is another measurement of coaching outcome. Many organisations are running regular surveys providing their staff with the opportunity to participate in shaping their management. Scoring leadership is an important instrument because this provides the rare opportunity to rate executives.
The number and amount of bonuses paid is another performance indicator. Performance improvement inspired by coaching can therefore be valuable evidence.
If listed at the stock exchange, share prices are indicating how valuable the organisation is rated on the world market. Especially at the stock exchange not only figures but also potential, image and branding are leading to higher rating.
Testimonials and personal sensing
These measurements are not based on figures, but should be included because they are also important indicators. Very often the coach gets direct feedback from various sides about the impact of coaching, e.g. the client, the coachee, colleagues or executives. The coach can collect these testimonials and present them anonymously to his client. Through a wide range of experiences a coach is often quite able to verify the outcome of its work by sensing the situation. Based on this grows the ability to give further recommendations about future needs of coaching or other related disciplines like consulting, mentoring, training or mediation.
Press articles and releases
As marketing, Public Relations give a picture of how the organisation is perceived in public. Opinions and facts printed black on white are immensely powerful. Also press releases initiated by the organisation proving their forward thinking by announcing the use of coaching can lead to a big step forward.