‘Finding the sweet spot between people processes and hard-line results… is difficult to attain’.
Mary Beth O’Neill, Executive Coaching with Backbone and Heart
Do you get enough bangs for your coaching buck? And, how do you find out?
Looking at coaching in your organisation through a results-focused lens has real strength.
It doesn’t just create the business case for the coaching itself. It also brings rigour and focus to the coaching conversation. What needs to happen in this business at this moment in time? How does coaching support that? How do you know whether it’s delivering?
This makes it immeasurably more valuable to the client. It engages systemically with what needs to change in your organisation – not just within the client.
Everyone does it differently. There seem to be three camps.
#1 ‘I can’t face the evaluation.’ Let’s leave that one there. It is a challenge but in today’s business climate, not one that can be easily avoided with pressure on budgets.
#2 ‘What’s different after the coaching?’ The ‘light touch’ approach.
This 2013 Ridler Report case study, from international law firm Freshfields, draws attention to the double pull of leadership development and business results. Freshfields aspire to ‘focus on both the individual and business benefits’.
‘Return on expectation, based on coaching objectives, rather than return on investment’.
Nick Blandford, Senior Learning and Development Manager.
Any organisation could use their questions to start evaluating coaching programmes:-
- What would have happened anyway, without coaching?
- What has been affected by the coaching?
- What would not have happened without coaching?
- What is the impact on coachee, firm, colleagues and clients?
These questions start to build a framework of evaluation.
#3 Change that shows bangs for your buck. Linking business results with the soft stuff. I think this more focused model creates the most powerful coaching for the organisation. What happens when we put leadership development in a business results context? We start with the business result the clients wants, and structure the coaching behind that. For O’Neill this is the sweet spot.
Here the guiding principles for the coaching contract are:-
- What are the specific business results this client aims to create?
- What leadership behaviours do they need to support this?
- What team behaviours do they need to support this?
Here coaching is a systemic intervention, where the client, team and business results are shifting as an integrated whole. The coaching intervention creates the sweet spot between people processes and business results.
By working with all three dimensions, the coaching impact can be significant and lasting. It isn’t that the soft stuff isn’t important. It is just that it often doesn’t go far enough in creating a shift in behaviour and business results.
What do you think? What challenges do you face in doing this? Is it important to you?