Staffing Management

How Do We Demonstrate Coaching’s Effectiveness?

By Staff Report

Jul. 31, 2014

Dear Weights and Measures:

Coaching is most effective when it’s aligned with the strategy, challenges and business realities of the organization vs. a series of one-off coaching assignments. And when aligned at that level, coaching programs are deeply strategic and have lasting impact across the organization.

Bottom line: In my experience across more than 25 years of designing and implementing coaching programs, coaching that is done right accelerates development and prepares leaders to take on bigger roles and drive stronger business results.

Here’s how to think through coaching programs for maximum impact:

Target high performers: To ensure results at the right level, target the right set of learners. It’s best if the coaching program targets the set of people that the organization wants to invest in for the future vs. problem performers. The former make coaching highly attractive internally and seen as something key for high performers seeking to advance their development. The latter — coaching poor performers — gives coaching a bad rap with leaders and will have high performers avoiding it. Also, high performer learners who understand how they could benefit typically are more motivated and get stronger results.

Involve managers: Ensure that your coaching process involves managers of learners as key stakeholders. This means clear contracting with the manager of the learners regarding focus of the coaching engagement, and regular intentional check-ins with the coach and learner (together) and the HR business partner to ensure alignment, recognize progress and correct course as needed. Also ensure that there are good transition plans in place for learners with their manager, so momentum is supported post-coaching.

Give it time: In aligning coaching with strategy and a focus on impacting business results, it’s critical that the engagement be long enough to ensure that learners can practice, internalize and sustain behavior change. When organizations engage in brief (less than six months) engagements, leaders may not have the chance to really embed new behaviors, those around them won’t have a chance to see the new behaviors and the likelihood they will be sustained longer-term is diminished.

Measure key results: Coaching has impact across any number of measures — and it’s important to look at the right metrics for the organization. Key measures include: acceleration of learning; sustainability of behavior change; promotion and retention rates among coached leaders; ability and ease around strategic thinking and judgment; and greater employee engagement and retention.

Aim for advocates: Well-run coaching programs generate their own advocates: People who are coached are often eager to spread the word about the experience and the benefits they’ve derived. Respected leaders who have benefited from coaching can provide highly valuable visibility for the practice and testimony for its efficacy. Invite these leaders to share their experience with your broader target population through live group forums, written materials, informal word of mouth, video vignettes and any other communication vehicle at your disposal. Help them build coaching into their own succession and onboarding plans for their teams and organizations.

Generate great stories: The word on successful coaching spreads fast — and the anecdotal insights and stories from people who are coached provide real, qualitative testaments to the value and impact of the coaching. Generate stories about what was developed for people and what they learned. What worked well? What is the gift that’ll keep giving for them? What did coaching accelerate that would have taken them years to learn?

SOURCE: Ellen Kumata, Cambria Consulting, Boston

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