Evaluating Reaction and Learning

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The early returns were in: eight weeks after the coaching initiative

was launched, the report from the first questionnaire highlighted

strengths—and an immediate improvement opportunity. Figure

12.3 shows the reaction data from Questionnaire A. The report summarized

the data as follows:

1. Only about half (54% favorable rating) of the coaching clients

felt that their leaders clearly shared their expectations for

coaching. Remember, this is a “reversal” question, so that 46%

of the respondents agreed with the negatively stated question.

2. Even after two months of coaching, only about three-quarters

(77%) of the clients set objectives for coaching, while about

one-quarter (28%) harbored skepticism that coaching is going

to work for them.

3. Overall, clients felt very positive about the rapport (89%),

pacing (86%), and delivery (91%) of the coaching.

Michael met with Jacqui to review the results and to prepare recommendations

for the Leadership Advisory Board. They concluded

from the data that the senior leaders needed to immediately share

their expectations for coaching with their people who are being

coached. This communication was a critical element in the leadership

process, and Jacqui was dismayed that these communications

were not yet complete. Each coaching client was to base, in part, his

or her objectives on meeting these expectations, so it was not surprising

to learn that one-quarter of the clients (23%) had yet to set

these objectives. This also raised the question as to how these clients

Demonstrating the ROI of Coaching 217

Item %

Favorable

1. My coach and I set objectives for coaching. 77%

2. The expectations from the senior leaders for the coaching initiative are 54%

not clear.

3. My coach and I connected and established rapport. 89%

4. I was skeptical that coaching was going to work for me. 72%

5. I was satisfied that the first four sessions provided a strong foundation for 83%

our coaching conversations.

6. Conducting coaching over the telephone is very effective for me. 91%

7. The pacing of the coaching sessions is about right; not too fast or too slow. 86%

8. The personal assessment data were effectively explained to me. 89%

Figure 12.3 A Portion of a Report from Questionnaire A: Reaction Data at

OptiCom.

had grounded their coaching, given that they had not set objectives.

Moreover, for those who did set objectives, it wasn’t clear how closely

aligned these objectives were to senior leader expectations. Written

comments supported the notion that those clients who had neither

expectations nor objectives were becoming skeptical that coaching

was going to work for them. Jacqui and Michael agreed that this

issue had to be nipped in the bud. They recommended to the advisory

board that all senior leaders immediately set expectations for

their people, based on the guidelines that had been issued some two

months before. In this way the evaluation revealed how to increase

the effectiveness and value of coaching.

The next question Jacqui raised was what implications this issue

had for shaping the early learning experiences of the coaching

clients. Figure 12.4 shows the summary of the data for the learning

section of the questionnaire. Michael had summarized the data as

follows:

1. Overall, the coaching conversations had proven to be rich

learning experiences for the clients, with percent favorable

218 Coaching That Counts

Items % Favorable Rank Order

10. I am understanding how to be more effective as a 66% 3

leader.

11. I am gaining insights into personal changes that I 54% 4

needed to make to be more collaborative with peers.

12. I am learning about the impact my actions have on 62% 5

others.

13. Coaching is opening up new ways for me to look at 77% 2

business situations.

14. I am understanding how to work more effectively 42% 7

with my peers to accomplish business objectives.

15. I am learning how to engage my work team more 48% 6

effectively to achieve goals.

16. Coaching is enabling me to explore new ways to 42% 7 tie

increase teamwork.

17. I have begun to improve my communication skills. 86% 1

Figure 12.4 A Portion of a Report from Questionnaire A: Learning Data at

OptiCom.

ratings ranging from 42 percent to 86 percent. Keep in mind

that not all coaching clients are expected to improve in every

item listed in Figure 12.4. So, to have so many items selected

at a higher percentage underscores the breadth of what was

being learned from coaching.

2. Immediate gains seem to come from learning how to communicate

better (86%) and opening up new ways to look at

business situations (77%).

3. Two-thirds (66%) of the clients were learning how to be more

effective as leaders, but were these areas corresponding to what

was most important for the organization (e.g., collaboration

and teamwork)?

4. A rank order of the learning areas revealed that peer collaboration

(ranked fourth and seventh) and teamwork (ranked

sixth and seventh—tie) were not at the top of everyone’s hit

parade.

A more in-depth analysis showed that those clients who did not

have set coaching objectives were also those whose rankings of collaboration

and teamwork tended to be lower. This confirmed

Jacqui’s suspicions: Leaders who did not share expectations for

coaching missed an opportunity to influence the early course of

coaching. Jacqui had the ammunition she needed to ensure that the

advisory board held the leaders accountable to quickly share expectations

with their people who were being coached.