This is the second post in a three part series on evaluating coaching initiatives, which is an increasingly critical priority for organizations to track the effectiveness of coaching and to drive the strongest ROI on their coaching investment.

Cambria’s clients regularly look to us for guidance in evaluating their coaching programs — and we’ve found that the best approach to evaluation involves some combination of:

  1. Interim Evaluations: These are usually conducted once about midway through the expected lifespan of a coaching engagement, but may occur several times in engagements longer than six months. Interim evaluations are discussed in the first of these three blog posts — please see that here.
  2. Post-Coaching Evaluations: It’s common to conduct these within the first few weeks after a coaching engagement has closed, but they are sometimes delayed three to four months, particularly after shorter engagements, to assess the “stickiness” of the coaching and capture longer-term impacts.
  3. Development Progress Assessments: These are employed typically during the closeout process for an engagement, but may also be conducted at an interim point in longer engagements.

Organizations need to decide which combination of the three makes sense, depending on the nature and extent of their coaching initiatives.
My focus in this blog post is on Post-Coaching Evaluations, which I’ll tackle by also suggesting specific questions to consider for each part of the evaluation.

Post-Coaching Evaluations

Post-coaching evaluations generally occur shortly after a coaching engagement has ended. While most organizations send these evaluations to the coachee only, several other key people can evaluate certain aspects of the coaching engagement — including the coachee’s manager or other coaching sponsor, HR business partner, and coach.

Post-coaching evaluations frequently have several objectives, many of which actually are part of a larger goal of strategic coaching initiatives and practices: helping to establish or validate the business case for coaching by understanding the impact and value it is producing for the organization. Achieving this objective can be critical to the long-term sustainability of the initiative.

Below I detail each of the objectives and offer sample questions that are useful for eliciting responses pertinent to each objective.

  • Document areas of development, learning and behavior change. Learning organizations often want to know: what are the priority development needs of our leadership population? Capturing, at a high level, what is being worked on in coaching provides insights that may enable those organizations to develop more targeted programs to address the most common needs. But the value of simply being able to report statistics on how leaders are benefiting from the coaching investment is usually reason enough. One approach is to combine a pick-list of items (including “other”) with open-ended fields for explanations in the respondent’s words:
  • Document business outcomes/metrics realized as a result of the changes. After asking about changes within the individual, the next step to ROI insight is to make the connection to external outcomes that are important to the business. Joe was able to more clearly communicate his vision to his team, which has increased the team’s engagement and productivity, accelerating its achievement of a key business goal. Here, the same approach as above:
  • Gather testimonials of actual progress and change. Stories can be as important as hard data when it comes to building a compelling business case, and promoting the value of coaching to internal decision makers and target populations. This is often gathered best through interviews, but survey items can obtain some insight (and potentially identify candidates for follow-up interviews). A sample item:
    • In concrete terms, what has the coaching experience produced for the coachee and this organization?
  • Measure perceptions of the impact/value of intended (and realized) behavior change for the organization. Items gauging the respondent’s general sense of how worthwhile the coaching was can help benchmark perceptions of impact—did coaching produce value greater than its cost. Some examples:
    • To what extent has coaching positively impacted the coachee’s overall effectiveness in his or her role?
    • To what extent was the coaching worth the coachee’s time?
    • To what extent was the coaching worth the organization’s financial investment?
    • How important was the coachee’s coaching progress to his or her organization or work group?
  • Evaluate factors that may have affected coaching outcomes. Items gauging potential mitigating factors affecting coaching outcomes can assist in interpreting outliers, identify areas of concern for potential follow-up interviews, and help to refine intake and orientation practices as well as requirements for the coaching process. For example:
    • To what extent was the coachee personally committed to the coaching process?
    • To what extent was the coachee’s manager personally committed to the coaching process?
  • Evaluate the coaching experience. Broad, open-ended questions allow respondents to address issues of importance to them that may not fit neatly into one of the more targeted items. For example, these two items might elicit comments about the coach, the coaching process, organizational support, etc.:
    • What did you find especially positive about your coaching experience?
    • What could have been done differently to make it a better or more valuable experience?
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the coach and, potentially, provide feedback to the coach. Coach quality and performance makes a huge difference in the outcomes and impact of individual coaching engagements, not to mention broader organizational impressions of the usefulness and value of coaching. Most organizations want a way to ensure their coaches are effective in their coaching and well-regarded by leaders and their stakeholders.
    • What does your coach do especially well that you would suggest that he/she continue to do more of?
    • What would you suggest that your coach change or improve upon?
    • Would you recommend your coach to a colleague? Please explain.
  • Gather feedback on the organization’s coaching practices. These questions help identify frustration points and other elements of the organization’s coaching process requirements that might be improved for a better overall coaching experience.
    • Looking back on your experience with this organization’s coaching process, what suggestions do you have for ways it could be improved?