How to Measure Executive Coaching: Part 1 – Feedback

Determining the ROI of Coaching
Services are always hard to determine the value of, how do you know if you’re getting good value from your accountant, architect or lawyer?  Executive coaching is no different.  You can’t ‘kick the tires’ of a service before you buy it, but you probably do have a few indicators that help you determine the value you want from a service.  This ‘buyers’ conundrum’ has surfaced enough lately that we interrupt our Series on Leadership Secrets to bring you a 2 part Blog on “How to Measure Executive Coaching”.
We believe you can only see the value if you’re asking the right questions, so we co-design feedback surveys with our larger clients on their coaching metrics.  We measure coach fit, goal achievement, observable impact, coach professionalism and competencies developed.
We coach leaders, high potential individuals who are used to challenging themselves to more.  47% of the leaders we coach are senior management to CEO level and 39% are emerging leaders or middle management.  Coach fit is critical to success as the power of the coaching is only as good as the combination of saftey and challenge.  These leaders have already challenged themselves as far as they can.  The coach must create a safe enough environment for the client to be challenged beyond what they would do otherwise.  Part of that safety is knowing the coach has an unwavering belief in them as leaders. 94% of our clients’ surveyed always sensed my coach’s belief in me personally”, with 6% mostly sensing the coach’s belief.  56% said they always felt safe”, with 44% most of the time and 94% experience the “right amount of challenge to go beyond my comfort zone” most or all the time.
Goal Achievement can be a tricky one as maintaining confidentialty on what the client is working on is key to the success of coaching.  Most of the coaching goals are set by the coachee themselves, however, their boss or sponsor is allowed 1 core goal they put forward for the coachee to work on.  That, in turn is confidential between the coach, coachee and boss/sponsor.  We measure this by simply asking “Did you accomplish the majority of your goals?” 100% of clients surveyed say yes to both the sponsor and self-identified goals!  They can elaborate in the comment box -and many do.
Observable impact is measured by simply asking “In what ways have others observed the impact of coaching on you?”.  We know that behaviour change has taken place when third party feedback confirms it. Examples of third party feedback are: ‘greater trust by others’, ‘More aware of my audience / other team members needs and differences ‘, ‘My boss originally said I wasn’t strategic enough and at the end he said there was a marked improvement. I’m a broader thinker. I am able to stay in a strategic frame of mind and not get dragged into the day to day often. Today I think more corporate than departmental.’ and ‘better listening and different analysis and approach on the issues’.  All difficult to put metrics to, but observable and measurable none the less.
Coach professionalism is used for us to monitor ourselves and to see where we can improve. We care deeply about the coaching profession and aim to represent it well.  100% of clients’ surveyed ranked all our coaches as “Professional” or “Highly Professional” on all 5 indicators, from “Initial Contact” orAddressing any process issues you had” to “Finalising the Contact”.  All would recommend their coach to others!  This high satisfaction level also speaks to the effort we put in around matching clients with one of our 7 coaches as well as the diversity and skill available on our team.
While we do not get clients to give us feedback on their specific goals, we do ask for feedback on core ‘intangible’ leadership competencies developed through their coaching.  We customise  the competencies measured to those most important to the company we’re working with.  Typically we end up with around 9.  Some common competencies measured are; “Self-Awareness”, “Relational Ability”,  “Dealing with Conflict”, “Internal Confidence” and “Influence”.  The feedback usually comes back with the coaching having had significant impact or having exceeded expectations.
If you want to ‘kick the tires’ of a coaching service before you hire them, use these measurements as questions for their references.  If they claim to be a right fit for all your expecutive, beware.  Rather look for a team of coaches, like ours, or hire a coach who advises you to first interview 2 or 3 coaches before deciding on best fit.  Lastly, if you’re planning to make coaching a core component of your leadership development, ask the coaching organization if they’re willing to co-design a feedback survey that provides you with valuable metrics while still honouring the confidentiality inherent in the coaching relationship.
We’ve shared our thoughts with you.  We’d love to hear how you go about selecting coaches and measuring impact of your coaching investment.
Part 2  on Coach Credentials coming soon…….