To Measure or Not to Measure

Coaching, whether as an intervention by an outside party or within an organisation that embraces a coaching culture, needs to be seen to have value, or else why would we do it?

However, there are two distinct schools of thought on what ‘value’ actually is, and how it should be measured.

On the one hand, there are organisations that need constant reassurance that they are getting a return on their investment in coaching. Companies that ask a coach to offer up ongoing evaluations based on results achieved and milestones reached or passed.

On the other hand there are companies that see coaching as a resource for their people, and if the people being coached are happier, then they will be more productive and therefore there will be concrete benefits.

So which is the more ‘correct’ approach?

As with so many things, the answer is ‘both’.

For the first kind of organisation, there must be hard evidence of results, or they will draw away from coaching. They need to see the bottom line improve, or they will feel that they have been conned by some kind of smoke and mirrors fad.

Even when the coach knows that results might be a long time coming, and that their coachee will need to take time over implementing change, and that the eventual change might therefore be seen as stemming from something other than the coaching, he or she must be prepared to actively seek the milestones and the metrics that will keep the company onside; otherwise all their efforts may be undermined.

For the second type of company the idea of metrics being applied to something as fluid and personal as coaching is anathema. However, the coach must still be prepared to give positive reassurance of the ultimate benefits accruing from the coaching intervention, and be prepared to back that up and substantiate the claim.

The deciding factor for both the coach and the company should perhaps be the selection of the correct and most appropriate coach for their needs; real and perceived.

The company that needs metrics should be looking for a coach that will undertake that aspect of the job as happily as the more ‘soft’ areas of coaching the individual. while the coach that sees a bigger picture than just the business, and understands that perhaps the coachee’s life isn't so compartmentalised that they can create clear delineation between home and work, personal life and business life, will be better suited to the organisation that has a more holistic view and defines success across the board rather than as purely the bottom line.

The moral?

Choose wisely. If you are a coach, ask questions about what the client company are going to need back from you in respect of feedback and reassurance. Work with the type of company with which you are comfortable.

if you’re employing a coach, make sure that the individual in question understands what you want and need.

Wise choices make happier coaching and better business.

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