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Survey: Organizations Evaluating Coaching Programs Poorly

Submitted by  on November 30th, 2011

Businessman writing Benefits on glass wallWorkplace coaching is a powerful and flexible development tool that can be tailored for specific people and positions. It’s a great fit for organizations looking to raise the bar, especially after employee performance has plateaued under traditional management techniques.

As I reported in an earlier post on coaching in organizations, a survey of 250 UK companies by the Institute of Leadership and Management found that coaching practices are taking off. Ninety percent of respondents said coaching is or will be part of their organization’s development toolkits. An even larger number (95%) cited specific benefits to the coached individuals and the organization as a whole. The ILM study was conducted by telephone in February 2011 and covered a broad swath of industries.

There’s agreement on the benefits, which range from improvements in leadership and management skills to greater confidence and better preparation for a new role. However, the survey does raise red flags about how well organizations are measuring the effectiveness of their coaching programs.

Though 93% of the respondents reported that their organizations evaluate the outcomes of coaching, the methods they use are quite inconsistent. Only 40% evaluate specific “coaching interventions”. Less than half (49%) say coaching is measured against key performance indicators or business goals.

So how are companies assessing the worth of these programs? Seventy percent of respondents said evaluation is folded into internal regular employee appraisals. Forty percent say it is part of 360 degree evaluations.

Even if employee performance appraisals are done well (which often is not the case), they’re unlikely to capture the specific impact of coaching. In addition, such evaluations are designed to reveal the performance of an individual, not an initiative or development tool.

I’ve written many times about the need to objectively measure the impact of training programs so that we can confirm their value and implement continuous improvements. Coaching is no different. Goals must be identified and should be connected to business outcomes. Many of the techniques I’ve outlined in previous posts on measuring the effectiveness of training programs could be used.

Without hard numbers, it’s difficult to discern what works and what does not. This is key to the successful evolution of any development initiative. It’s not enough to say that coaching improved an employee’s motivation or attitude. If the goal is to boost the productivity of a sales manager, did the coaching result in an increase in orders generated by the employee?

Targeted evaluations will also demonstrate the value of coaching programs. Accounting departments are very much aware of the cost in terms of time and personnel when managers or other employees are told to coach their direct reports. If proponents of the program are unable to demonstrate a return on that investment, coaching will be viewed as an expendable expense when budgets get tight.

Of course, the budget swings both ways. If hard numbers demonstrate the value of coaching, senior management will be more likely to boost funding and expand the program to cover more employees.

Do you have a story to tell about how your organization measures the effectiveness of your coaching program? What did you learn? Please share your experiences here.


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Posted in Research, Talent, Training | Comments (0)

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