Develop Evaluation Objectives That Directly Tie to Coaching Objectives

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One of the first questions business leaders ask when reviewing

objectives for a coaching initiative is:“How will we know if you have

achieved these objectives?” The first step in answering this question

is to develop evaluation objectives that flow from the initiative

objectives. For example, when coaching objectives specify how the

coaching will be applied in the organization, then evaluation objectives

must address the application of coaching. If business leaders

expect the evaluation to determine monetary benefits, then the initiative

objectives should be calibrated accordingly. The danger arises

when the coaching initiative sets its sights too low (e.g., leaders

gaining new knowledge—but not necessarily applying the knowledge)

for evaluation to meet the business leaders’ expectation of

value. This is precisely what happened with OptiCom: Jacqui positioned

coaching as a learning initiative, whereas the advisory board

was looking for tangible business impact. Jacqui’s learning objectives

were met, but a large gulf existed between the learning objectives

and the advisory board’s expectation for business impact. As the

evaluator, Michael performed a valuable service for Jacqui by highlighting

this discrepancy and quickly moving to a solution. Later in

this chapter, we will delve into this issue in more detail and review

the five levels of evaluating coaching.

Decide How to Isolate the Effects of Coaching on Performance

from Other Potential Influencing Factors

Isolating the effects of coaching on performance from other potential

influencing factors is the heart of the evaluation strategy. Failing

to credibly isolate the effects will doom the evaluation.What do we

mean when we say “isolating the effects?” We mean that we have

identified monetary benefits that we can directly attribute to the

effects coaching had on the performance of those being coached. In

other words, coaching led to behavior changes, these behavior

changes had an impact on business performance, and this impact

was translated to monetary benefits.

Generally speaking, the earlier the evaluation is planned, the more

options are opened up to isolate the effects of coaching. There

are three main methods to isolate the effects: (1) conducting a

pre/postanalysis of performance, (2) using comparison (control)

groups, and (3) using expert estimation.1 Isolating the effects is

strengthened when all three of these methods are used. A later

section in this chapter delves more deeply into the issue of isolation;

however, suffice it to say at this point that an effective evaluation

strategy works out all of the details of isolation before coaching is

formally evaluated. The deployment of coaching can often be

designed to take advantage of natural comparison groups and collecting

pre/postdata. If, for example, coaching is to be deployed

across several sales regions, the deployment can be staged so that the

performance of the first regional sales managers to be coached

can be compared with those regional sales managers who receive

coaching later.