Setting Targets for the Evaluation

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In an ideal world, the process of setting evaluation objectives for

evaluating application would be the same process that was outlined

for evaluating ROI. In reality, though, evaluating application is

usually less formal. Business leaders have no expectation of documenting

a monetary return, so they don’t want to “over-science” the

evaluation. That does not mean that there is not a lot on the line—

or even on the bottom line. In the case of Frontier, increasing the

number of prospects means increasing revenue. Paul is one of those

leaders who is willing to keep an open mind that coaching can play

a role in producing tangible value to the organization.He knows that

if the RSMs change their ways and actively prospect, then revenue

will increase. Performance measures that are meaningful to Paul are

already in place: total revenue by month, net revenue by month, and

the percentage of revenue from new customers. What’s needed

from the evaluation is the bridge between the coaching experience

and the impact on these performance measures, which may take

several months to show an impact.

Paul and the HR VP struck a good compromise in their selection

of the two application-based objectives: improving people management

skills and increasing the number of prospecting calls. Paul was

willing to take the leap of faith that achieving these two objectives

would eventually impact the business performance measures. On

the flip side of this coin, he too realized that not achieving these

objectives did not bode well for achieving the business results that

he and his team needed. This evaluation, then, was a kind of canary

in the coal mine: an early indication that more development or other

personnel actions would be required to achieve the sales goals.

Managing Vendors to Deliver Application-Based Coaching

Working with vendors to effectively design and implement

application-based coaching requires a strong partnership. Most

vendors will welcome the opportunity to contribute to the successful

application of a program they provide. Here are some tips for

partnering with vendors to deliver application-based coaching:

_ Share the application objectives during the request for proposals

(RFP) stage. Vendors will structure their proposed program

around the program objectives, so they need to know upfront

what these objectives are. Knowing Paul’s expectations in

advance for improved people management and prospecting

skills enabled the coaching vendor to more strongly position

coaching to achieve the expected outcomes.

_ Mutually agree on an appropriate role for the vendor. Paul felt

comfortable letting the coaching vendor collect data about how

people were applying what they gained from coaching. Other

sponsors or leaders might not be so comfortable—after all, the

vendor has a vested interest in the outcome of the evaluation.

In this case Paul felt that the vendor’s evaluation role was

appropriate given the more limited scope of the coaching initiative

(e.g., 12 people) and the objective nature of one of the

objectives (e.g., increase in the number of prospecting calls).

_ Agree in advance on targets for application if targets are to be set.

Many vendors may initially be reluctant to be held partially

responsible for how coaching is applied in the organization.

After all, they have no real authority in the organization. The

stronger the company–vendor relationship, the less reluctant

the vendors will be. Emphasize that it is a mutual responsibility

and that the vendor will be given the tools and support to

live up to its end of the bargain. In reality, almost all coaching

clients will apply some aspect of what they gained from coaching

to the workplace. So, simply looking at application rates (as

is typically the case with conventional training programs) has

little meaning. What is meaningful is that people have taken

actions that achieve organization objectives. In this regard Paul

was quite explicit when he stated that at least 10 of 12 RSMs

were expected to achieve significant progress.

_ Map out a strategy for taking any necessary corrective actions. If

and when the application of coaching is not meeting expectations,

corrective actions must be taken. This is the true test of

a partnership: how well the partners handle adversity.Mapping

out a strategy in advance enables the company and the vendor

to quickly mobilize for action.