Coaching Objectives That Are Specifically Linked to Business Goals

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We just learned how expanding the assessment process to include

more organizational issues can open the door to developing coaching

objectives that are specifically linked to business goals. Coaching

clients in change management will accelerate their readiness for

promotion opportunities (Goal #1) and coaching clients in enacting

their new roles will enable them to work more effectively

together to develop new compounds more quickly (Goal #2). This

is not to say that the only objectives for coaching are those that can

be linked to business goals. Indeed, clients will have personal and

professional objectives for coaching that do not have an immediate

bearing on a business goal. The point here is that business goals and

individual objectives are not mutually exclusive, and in fact, are two

sides of the same development coin. The first section of this book

provides some wonderful examples:

_ In Chapter 3 Jane utilized coaching to get more focused on top

priorities and work more effectively with her colleagues. As a

result she was more effective dealing with the challenges of the

merger and made the merger more successful (business goal).

_ In Chapter 4 Jack struggled with his new promotion and utilized

coaching to improve his partnering and collaboration skills.

As a result he was better able to meet customer needs, improve

customer satisfaction and increase revenue (business goal).

_ In Chapter 5 Mark developed a new set of more effective leadership

behaviors that were adapted to specific situations. As a

result his team’s on-time performance metric improved (business

goal) and employee retention increased (another business


_ In Chapter 6 Clare utilized coaching to improve communication

and influencing skills. As a result she more readily gained

approval for her business proposals, which in turn improved

the financial results of the business (business goal).

These stories illustrate the two-way street nature of a successful

coaching initiative. Value propositions for both the individuals and

the organization must be met. Ultimately, it is the business that is

making the investment and this investment must have an acceptable

return. All of which brings us to the business case.

A Business Case for Coaching That Includes Investment

Requirements and Business Benefits of Coaching

A business case is a document that captures all of the relevant information

for deciding whether to invest in a coaching initiative. This

information includes how coaching will contribute to achieving

business goals, the scope, the expected benefits, and required investments.

The business case provides a foundation and direction for

the design of the initiative and consists of five major sections:

executive summary, contribution to business goals, scope of

the coaching initiative, business impact and investment, and


_ Executive summary. Senior leaders in organizations who make

investment decisions rarely have time to read voluminous

reports and documents. Executive summaries express in one or

two pages only the information necessary for leaders to make

a decision about whether to proceed with the coaching initiative.

Preparing the executive summary is also a useful exercise

for the learning and development practitioner in that it forces

the practitioner to distill all of the material in the business case

down to its essence. This mental exercise will produce the few

key messages that have to be delivered to the business leader to

make the right decision.

_ Contribution to business goals. The leader’s decision to invest in

the coaching initiative will be strongly swayed by how the

initiative will contribute to achieving business goals. In this

section, these goals are presented, and the specific ways in

which the coaching initiative will help achieve these goals are

Creating Context and Purpose for Coaching 137

detailed. Achieving business goals at PharmaQuest, for

example, was constrained by leadership. The HR senior VP presented

coaching as a way to accelerate putting capable leaders

in key product development positions. As a result, new

products would be developed more quickly, which the COO

identified as a top business goal.

_ Scope of the coaching initiative. The scope represents the boundary

conditions of the initiative and answers the who, what,

when questions: How many executives will be coached from

which business units or geographies, to address which kinds of

issues, and over what time frame. Given how new coaching is

a leadership development tool, it is often a good idea to

describe what coaching is to the reader. This will dispel any

misconceptions readers may have about coaching. Describing

scope conditions in the business case may help inoculate the

organization from “scope creep,” which sets in as more people

who were not originally intended to be coached end up being

coached. Or the coaching reveals additional needs for team

building, and the coaching company is authorized to launch a

series of team-building workshops. These extensions of the

original initiative design may all be good ideas, but having proscribed

boundaries in the business case makes it clear when

these boundaries are being crossed and supports making the

right kinds of decisions during the authorization process.

_ Business impact and investment. This section clarifies the why

of conducting the coaching initiative: the benefits to the business.

These benefits may be intangible or monetary. Intangible

benefits are important, and their value to the business cannot

be underestimated. Increasingly, however, business leaders

want to know about the potential monetary benefits of development

and HR initiatives. The evaluation methodology contained

in this book clearly shows how the monetary benefits of

coaching can be isolated from other potential influencing

factors. Presenting monetary benefits, however, inevitably

raises the question about how much it cost to produce the

benefits. The projected cost of the coaching initiative must also

be presented. The projected cost is fully loaded and includes

items such as facilities cost, opportunity cost (the time of

people to participate in coaching), vendor costs, telecommunications

cost, and all other cost factors. ROI can be forecast

based on projected benefits and cost, noting key assumptions.

_ Recommendations. This section gets to the crux of the matter:

making the decision to proceed with the coaching initiative.

These recommendations outline the decision areas. In the case

of PharmaQuest, for example, recommendations could have

been made about the scope (80 clients) and key activities

(multirater assessments). Given that coaching, or even

leadership development for that matter, was new to the

company, a pilot coaching project could have been recommended.

The coaching pilot would have involved fewer people

(say five to ten) and limited the initial risk to the company.

The pilot project could have been evaluated, lessons learned,

and then a larger initiative could have been deployed more


Of course, all of these good ideas were bypassed by the HR senior

VP at PharmaQuest. The COO and HR senior VP had already

agreed on proceeding with the coaching, so why bother with projecting

the business impact, offering different options, or for that

matter, why do the business case at all? For the simple reason that

completing the business case helps create the organizational context

for coaching to be successful. When the COO asked the question

about the value coaching was creating, the HR senior VP was not

prepared to answer the question.Moreover, if the HR senior VP had

completed the business case, it would have been clear for everyone

how this value was to be created. Preparations could have been

made, evaluations planned, and impact on the business goals

described. The business case is also the cornerstone for the design

of the initiative. Preparing the business case precipitates critical

deliberations about the scope and impact of the coaching initiative,

which must be taken into account in order to successfully design the

coaching initiative.