For coaching to be an effective tool to maximize the client’s potential, it is important to be able to measure the return on investment in terms of the positive change brought about by coaching.
Although coaching is a highly confidential process where it would be highly unethical to divulge a coaching session’s content to anyone outside of the relationship, such as the sponsor of the coaching, to illustrate its effectiveness, there are a variety of ways in which both the client and the sponsor might be able to measure coaching change.
Firstly, goals need to be very clearly identified and outcomes can be measured against these goals by noting what is different because of the coaching. For example, if a client reaches their goal of getting a promotion, the impact of the outcome of the change is tangibly measurable. Other goals, such as increasing confidence, are noticeable through changes in behavior.
Secondly, assessment tools and questionnaires are commonly used at the start of coaching interventions, midway through the coaching program, and at the end of the program to measure shifts made by clients. There are various methods available to obtain information to base an assessment of change on.
The first method is to elicit feedback from people around the client, such as 360˚ feedback questionnaires. Change Partners Coaching uses a highly effective Perceptions Inventory process which includes one-on-one interviews and a comprehensive report to illustrate to the client where change has taken place or might still be needed.
We also include conversations with a client’s direct reporting line as part of our coaching programs at the start and towards the end of the coaching contract to get their input on potential development areas and to measure the progress towards these goals.
The second category of assessment is custom-made instruments such as sliding scale questions compiled on an online platform where confidentiality and security can be assured.
Fourthly, executive coaches can gain much useful information by observing the client’s behavior directly as they navigate their way through specific events that might take place during their day.
The last assessment method is in the form of formal assessment instruments which are standardized, and reliable. The diverse partnership of professional coaches within Change Partners Coaching provides the added benefit of a variety of skill sets and certifications for the administering of the best assessment tools for each client’s needs and context, with the notable importance of providing feedback that is useful as a springboard for self-knowledge, awareness, and growth opportunities for the client to base subsequent coaching sessions on.
Research studies have been undertaken to measure change brought about through coachings, such as de Haan and Nieẞ’s study in 2011 on changes attributed to executive coaching that was noticeable by the clients’ peers.
Almost all participants had noticed a positive difference in these coaching clients and the most reported changes were observed in interpersonal and communication skills. They found that the more personal and hidden areas of change such as changed perspectives, self-knowledge, attitude, self-confidence, and resilience were not as easily identified by others through day-to-day interactions but concluded that coaching seems to have the ability to change the client as well as have an influence on their stakeholders and organization.
However, I can certainly attest to the fact that most of my clients have reported that they have received comments from their peers and/or superiors on noticeable behavior changes as a direct result of changes in their minds, bodies, and emotions brought about through coaching.
Which measurable coaching changes are currently needed to take your organization forward?