According to Peter Drucker (pictured), a key player in modern business management, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it”.
Over my career, I have implemented many business plans and performance measurement frameworks to drive improvement across a range of organisations and in doing so have been able to see where results have improved (or worsened) and also been able to respond accordingly.
As such I am a great advocate of measuring for success.
Measuring for success in coaching is equally important in demonstrating the benefit of coaching to the client and their organisation. As coaching has developed over recent years there has been an increased expectation placed on it to demonstrate value for money and deliver results.
There is a challenge between measuring business performance, often assessed by quantitative measures such as income, profit, staff absence etc. and coaching performance, which often uses more qualitative measures, such as time spent on strategy, visionary communications, effective delegation, etc. These 'softer' objectives have less obvious success measures, but it is still important to be able to demonstrate that coaching has delivered benefits and has a clear focus in terms of meeting objectives for the client.
To achieve this outcome in my coaching, I weave objectives and the tracking of the achievement of such outcomes throughout the coaching process. This starts in my initial discussions with the client and sponsor, asking what they want to achieve from the coaching. I then hold a three-way objective setting session with the client and sponsor, in which we agree the objectives for the coaching and how we will know we have achieved these objectives (what will be different as an outcome?).
This sets the baseline and target for each objective in terms of what we are aiming to achieve.
If appropriate I will use scaling with the client and sponsor, in which both parties will say where they feel the client is on a scale of 1-10 in terms of a particular objective and where they want to be post-coaching. This can help in terms of focusing the baseline and target for an objective. I capture the outcome of the objective setting session and share it for comment/agreement with the client and the sponsor.
Identifying the objectives for the coaching is also a useful way to identify how many sessions will be required to work on the identified development, giving clarity to the sponsor so that the coaching is focused and appropriate and not an open-ended relationship.
Sometimes a 360 feedback process may also be used to feed into the objective setting session, gaining further insight from peers into important areas for development. The more diverse the input to the objective setting process the better, as it is important the client gets perspectives other than their own on areas for development.
Once the objectives are agreed, the coaching can start.
To measure how well coaching is performing in terms of achieving the objectives, I hold midpoint and endpoint reviews with the client and sponsor. The purpose of these reviews is to discuss how the client feels the coaching is going in terms of achieving the objectives and allows the sponsor to comment. I facilitate the meeting, re-sharing the objectives in advance and asking the client to take each objective in turn. The focus in these meetings is on the client’s and sponsor’s perspectives, not the coach’s. This keeps ownership with them and avoids the coach breaching client/coach confidentiality by inadvertently sharing something that the client may not have chosen to so share.
Having a mid-point review allows the client to feedback to the coach what they would like more or less of from the coaching and to review/refocus the objectives if external influences mean it makes sense to do so and all parties agree.
The endpoint review checks that the coaching has achieved the agreed objectives, provides closure to the coaching relationship and gives the client and sponsor an opportunity to feedback to the coach on how the coaching experience has gone.
The agreement of clear objectives at the beginning of coaching is a key part of contracting between the coach and the client/sponsor. If changes are required through the coaching process, clear re-contracting (capturing and re-sharing new objectives) should be managed by the coach. This means there is clarity between all parties of the focus of the coaching throughout.
The above assumes that there is a sponsor for the client, which is not always the case. Some CEOs, for example, don’t necessarily want to ask their Chair or Directors for input to the objective-setting process. In which case, I still follow the process, but with only the client and with a heightened level of challenge to the client as to why they believe the objectives they identify are most relevant for them and for the organisation they serve.
When working on team coaching a similar approach can be taken where input into the team’s objectives is gathered from the team and the team’s key stakeholders.
I recently completed the AoEC Systemic Team Coaching Certificate, which focuses the team on five key disciplines:
The AoEC have developed a powerful online diagnostic tool, Team Connect 360, which is a unique team 360 feedback mechanism which quickly and efficiently generates insights into how a team is perceived - by its stakeholders and members of the team itself.
This is a great way to assess where a team is starting from, have a discussion around objectives driven by this insight, design a coaching programme for those objectives and then re-run the tool to measure success. The complexity of working with multiple players in a team and the wider system they operate within means the use of such a diagnostic tool can be invaluable in seeking agreement on what’s required.
As always if you have any questions or feedback regarding measuring success in coaching or any other queries regarding coaching, get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer any queries you may have.
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