Demonstrating the effectiveness of coaching

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Novae Group's HRD John Renz was confident executive coaching would be a valuable development tool for the senior team. The only obstacle was measuring its effectiveness within the company.

We have been using coaching at Novae for over four years. After this period of time it became increasingly important that we could evidence its value and assess the level of effectiveness in how HR was managing the process. 

A recent study by the Corporate Research Forum found that only 42.3% of members surveyed had any form of evaluation of their coaching programmes. Coaching evaluation is still in its infancy and many firms dismiss it as too difficult to undertake.

Rather than ‘dish the dirt’ on the individual coaches our focus was to find out if the process was valued by coachees and their line managers, and how we in HR could make improvements. This could then provide a base line for further, more sophisticated measurement of the economic value to the business. The results proved that coaching was valued by all individuals but also that HR could improve things further by being smarter at the beginning, middle and end of the process.

Consulting agency Leadenhall were given access and a free hand within the business. They gave us an analysis of people’s view of coaching and insight into how we could improve our management of it. In addition we also gained a framework for continuous assessment of coaching for the future.

Approach 

Leadenhall undertook an electronic survey of coachees and their managers followed by individual structured interviews based on the data collected. This information and the findings from the interviews then went into a summary report, which was shared with the coaches at an annual Novae coaches meeting. 

Results 

Findings were generally very positive, particularly from the coachee perspective. Managers expressed more concern about their involvement and were seeking more active participation in the process. 

The final report contained nine key recommendations; primarily focused on improving the effectiveness of the relationship between coachee, line manager, HR and coach. While a cookie cutter approach to using coaches was not recommended, clarity around purpose of the assignment, improved involvement of line managers and more clarity around the coaching contract was needed. Some very interesting data did emerge which might be of interest to those involved in coaching: 

  • 63% of coachees agreed with the statement ‘I was initially sceptical of executive coaching before I had undertaken it’
     
  • 64% agreed and 36% strongly agreed that I gained real value from the majority of coaching sessions that I had’
     
  • 73% agreed that ‘My coaching experience added real economic value to the company, most likely in excess of the cost of providing a coach’
     
  • 91% agreed that executive coaching improved my confidence and 100% agreed that My coaching experience changed some aspects of my behaviour for the good, both during and after the coaching had been completed’
     
  • 9% agreed that ‘Since the coaching assignment finished, I have gone back to my old ways’ although 73% disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Leadenhall took the data from the survey and explored issues more fully in structured interviews with all coachees and their managers.

Overall the results showed Novae had selected good coaches who were well-regarded by their coachees, that real impact had been made on coachees’ behaviour and self-awareness, that managers needed to be actively involved in the process and that HR could improve some of the processes around the management of coaching.

John Renz (pictured) is group HRD at Novae Group, an insurance underwriting company. He is also vice chairman of the City HR Association. Chris Woodman is the managing director of Leadenhall Consulting. 

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