Coaching has long been established as a not only as a means of organizational performance improvement, but also a highly cost effective means of talent development, increasing engagement, and organizational retention. Though the benefits of coaching may be ‘felt’ by those within an organization, in order to truly capture the overarching benefits of a formalized coaching process within an organization, collaborative partnerships between stakeholders (such as the coach, coachee, and external subject matter expert or training partner) to create and facilitate agreed upon formal processes for coaching evaluation must be established (Ely et al., 2010).
Based upon a quantitative review and analysis of 49 different leadership coaching studies (Ely et al., 2010), the following best practices for creating evaluation systems within an organization should be proactively adopted at the initiation of a formalized coaching process within an organization in order to a accurately evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the coaching process adoption:
Evaluation efforts must collect multi-source data (subordinates, peers, superiors, hard metrics, etc.); that means don’t forget that both objective and subjective means to assess the impact of coaching, particularly in regard to evaluating changes in coachee’s behavior, using multi-source data will help bring added validity to the overall coaching evaluation – especially quantifiable measures of business impact such as rankings, performance indicators, etc.
The nature of leadership as social influence calls for a multi-level perspective of coaching outcomes that include changes in the attitudes, performance, and retention of both the coachee and their subordinates; don’t forget that tracking retention rates, internal promotion rates, etc. are all quantifiable data sources that are directly tied to ‘soft’ outcomes of coaching – increased trust and loyalty to the organization.
Evaluation plans should include distal outcomes – “some of the most valuable outcomes to the organization (e.g., leadership retention, adequate pipeline to fill senior positions) may not be observable until months or years after the coaching intervention has ended” (Ely et al., 2010, p. 597); don’t forget that the most valid data is robust and data captured over a longer period of time offers a better ‘big picture’ of the impact of coaching upon the organization.
In sum, it is highly recommended all stakeholders involved in coaching evaluation work together at the beginning of an adoption of a formalized coaching process in order to collaboratively develop a long-term strategic evaluation plan designed to meet the needs of different stakeholders and the greater organization. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and capture data from multiple sources, such as those being coached, coaches, sales data, retention data and so forth. Accurate understanding of coaching impact will not only provide you with a true ROI of your firms investment, but also will have a synergistic effect on those stakeholders involved. First hand experience with the positive impact coaching can have on an individuals development is by far the most energizing way to reinforce coaching’s necessity and create a culture dedicated to it’s use.
Ely, K., Boyce, L. A., Nelson, J. K., Zaccaro, S. J., Hernez-Broome, G., & Whyman, W. (2010). Evaluating Leadership Coaching: A Review and Integrated Framework. The Leadership Quarterly, 21 585-599
Fernandez-Araoz, C., Groysberg, B. & Nohria, N. (October, 2011). How to Hang on to your High Potentials. Harvard Business Review, 1-9.