Monday, 16 February 2009

Who decides on the value from a coaching assignment?

The question of who should decide is an interesting one. Given that the non-directive coaching process is all about a 1 to 1 relationship between a coach and a coachee helping them to understand their reality, issues and opportunities, both inside and outside work, then this suggests that they should be the person who fundamentally decides whether or not the coach and the coaching process is working well for them.

However there are a number of other parties involved in this coaching work who could and should have a view on the value and effectiveness of any particular coaching assignment.
The organisational sponsor who initiates this coaching work has presumably done so with a need and objectives in mind for the coachee. Ideally this has been detailed in a written brief that is given to the prospective coach and coachee so that the process can start out in a clear and open way. This brief and any objectives, learning outcomes or performance improvements included can then be used as the basis for a future evaluation of the effectiveness and value of the coaching and its impact.

The line manager of the coachee should be involved and provide input to this brief and be committed to supporting, monitoring and helping the coachee to achieve the objectives laid out for them in this brief. They would then be in a good position to assess the effectiveness, impact and value of the coaching during and after the end of the assignment. Quite often the line manager and sponsor are one and the same person. Sometimes the sponsor is from HR and sometimes a more senior manager in the organisation. Occasionally the coachee and sponsor of this coaching work are the same person, in which case it important to have another person or objective performance measurement basis outside this direct coaching relationship to use as an input basis to assess the impact and value of this coaching work.

Feedback questionnaires are also a useful tool to check on the impact and value of the coaching. I send these out to all of my coaching subjects periodically every 6 months to ask for feedback about the effectiveness of my coaching and its impact on their thinking, action and performance. I also do this after the end of an assignment to gain final input into the impact and value of my coaching work.

In conclusion whilst it is fundamental to assess the value of coaching as perceived by the core subject, the coachee themselves, it is also important to get the views of other managers and sponsors involved in the work and to measure effectiveness against some pre-determined performance improvement objectives or criteria.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

How do you know whether or not a coach is doing a good job?

This is an important question to answer both during but particularly at or after the end of a series of coaching sessions. This question also leads on to some others e g who should decide, when, against what criteria and using what sort of evidence?

If we use the Kirkpatrick Model, commonly used to evaluate the effectiveness of training, this gives us a useful model to start with. This model suggests that there are 4 levels to look at when evaluating the effectiveness and value of a training intervention and these can also be applied to a coaching intervention.

These four levels are:-
Reaction of the student (coachee) – what they thought and felt about the training, usually measured through a brief feedback questionnaire delivered at the end of the training event. The equivalent for me with my COACH model approach is to ask my coachees for some immediate and direct feedback about how well the session has gone at its end – what they liked or disliked or would have me do differently next time.

Learning – the resulting increase in knowledge or capability. This can be judged by either the coachee themselves and/or by their manager/sponsor - particularly if these improvements were agreed as part of the original objectives or brief for the coaching assignment.

Behaviour – the extent of behaviour and capability improvement and implementation/application of it. Again this can be judged by the coachee and by their line manager/sponsor – but against what criteria? Is the criteria provided by the organisation manager or sponsor or is it to be assessed more directly and personally by the coachee themselves against their individual criteria?

Results – the effects on the business or environment resulting from the trainee’s (coachee’s) performance. This is the acid test and needs to be assessed at some later date after the coaching sessions have been concluded and after reasonable time has elapsed for the effect on performance to be established. Given that the underlying aim of coaching is to help the coachee to maximise their satisfaction and performance at work then this is an entirely reasonable but it also needs to be tempered with any other, broader or personal objectives that the coaching sessions may have been designed to address.

This still leaves us with the questions about exactly who should assess the coaching impact at these four different levels, against which criteria and using which vehicles or inputs? We will look at these questions in my next article later on this week.