As a coaching company leader, you know that your coaching team delivers outstanding work. Clients know it too. They speak highly of partnering with their coaches toward new learning, increased self-awareness and effectiveness, and sometimes even transformation. However, perhaps in an effort to preserve the confidentiality or perhaps because you don’t have the tools, you may struggle to demonstrate to sponsors the powerful impact of your team’s coaching on leaders and their organization.
Demonstrating the ROI of coaching is one of the most vexing business development challenges that skilled coaches face. While anecdotal feedback and client testimonials have historically sufficed as the word-of-mouth calling card for individual coaching engagements — today, the market demands more of us. As companies expand their investment in coaching by scaling programs to dozens and hundreds across the organization, HR sponsors seek tangible data to evaluate and differentiate among coaching providers.
Optify is answering the call for coaches and teams who want to show impact systematically and professionally, and perhaps even make the case for delivering larger programs.
At Optify Coaching, we combined proven evaluation principles with innovative technology to measure the success of our coaching programs for our sponsors. Now, we’re making the process available to the coaching industry through the Optify platform.
Optify’s impact measurement process is adapted from Fitzpatrick’s training program evaluation model, which asks four key questions:
1) Reaction: How did participants feel about the coaching program?
2) Learning: Did participants improve their knowledge and skills and change attitudes as a result of the coaching?
3) Behavior: To what extent did participants change their behavior in the workplace as a result of the coaching?
4) Result: What organizational benefits resulted from the coaching?
Through a series of surveys launched at points throughout a coaching engagement, we can uncover the answers to these questions in a way that both preserves the confidentiality of the coaching relationship and provides transparency into the impact of coaching. Depending on an organization’s objectives and the nature of the coaching program, we incorporate some or all of the surveys described below.
1) Pulse check
While we make every effort to ensure a strong coach/client fit, checking in after the first meeting to make sure that’s the case can head off potential client disengagement. Our two-minute survey reveals if the engagement is off to a good start by gauging initial Reaction.
2) Reflecting on Yourself as a Leader
There are dozens of assessments that can be used at the beginning of a coaching engagement to enhance a client’s self-awareness and provide insights to be considered in shaping the coaching goals. Most coaches have their favorites. In addition to using best-in-class third-party assessments, we created our own, Reflecting on Yourself as a Leader, which asks clients about both their proficiency – and the importance to them – of leadership behaviors and mindsets that are often at the heart of coaching. When used at both the beginning and end of a coaching engagement, it measures the changes in Learning and Behavior through coaching.
3) Mid-point Check-In
While it’s possible to wait until the end of the program to evaluate change and success, in an engagement that will last six months or more, we check in with the client using an abbreviated survey at the mid-point. The survey helps the coach and client reflect on progress in Learning and Behavior and make course corrections around focus and approach if needed.
4) End of Coaching Survey
This survey is designed to comprehensively evaluate all four levels of the Fitzpatrick model.
- Questions about the overall experience and the coach quantify Reactions to coaching. (Our coaches appreciate that we share this feedback with them to help them grow professionally.)
- A Net Promoter Score question enables us to benchmark our success compared to industry standards (spoiler alert: Optify is proud that our NPS is 94!)
- Clients are asked to reflect on and share the Learning and Behavior changes that resulted from their work in coaching.
- Finally, clients are asked about their perception of the impact of the changes they’ve made on organizational objectives, including retention, team effectiveness, and productivity. These questions highlight the overall Result achieved.
5) Degree of Change
While the End of Coaching survey is comprehensive, it is completed by the client and quantifies their perception of the changes they’ve made. In addition, organizations often want independent validation that coaching has truly moved the needle in a way that will benefit the organization. Our Degree of Change survey, based on Marshall Goldsmith’s stakeholder-centered coaching model, does just that. Colleagues of the person being coached are asked to rate the degree to which they saw the coachee change against their goals – i.e., Significantly, Somewhat, or None. The results are compiled to preserve anonymity and confidentiality.
Each survey is easily administered, and the data is compiled and reported directly from the Optify platform. The result? Transparent and meaningful information that tells the story of positive change.
Today’s sponsors want tangible results that they can communicate in a manner that speaks to their bottom-line-driven leaders. Coaching companies want a way to professionalize and elevate their practice. We’re delivering on both counts by taking the mystery out of demonstrating coaching ROI so that sponsors, clients – and coaches – can collectively celebrate the hard work, success, and impact that we know coaching can have. Finally, we can all “see” the difference.