Measuring the Success of Coaching: A Step-by-Step Guide for Measuring Impact and Calculating ROI

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These part-time coaches typically offer spot-coaching to lawyers in the firm as part of other training responsibilities, while full-time internal coaches have coaching as the core component of their role and meet with lawyer clients on a regular basis and for extended coaching engagements. Hiring an internal coach is obviously a huge investment with significant benefits—and some downsides.

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An internal coach often has a keen sense of the firm, the people, the politics, and the overall system in which their lawyer clients operate. While that insight can give an internal coach a leg up, it also can present some unique challenges. For example, the lawyer-turned-coach may struggle to be recognized in their new role as a coach, and lawyer clients may look to them for mentoring and advice instead of for coaching.

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Concerns around confidentiality and perceived divided loyalties for the coach between the firm and the lawyer client also may be problematic. One way to overcome these types of obstacles is for the internal coach to be formally trained and become a certified coach such as through the ICF.

This can help give the internal coach additional credibility and knowledge, and it would require them to follow ethical guidelines, including those around confidentiality.

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Internal coaches also may want to be more explicit with their clients about confidentiality, and have a coaching contract with their clients that outlines these obligations and other issues, such as expectations around rescheduling and cancelling meetings. External coaches are used frequently in firms, either in lieu of or in addition to internal coaches. External coaches often have the benefit of working with a wide range of clients and organizations, and many specialize in law firms as well as particular areas of coaching, such as business development, leadership skills, and career coaching.

Especially for firms that are considering a coaching pilot or more limited coaching program, external coaches can offer flexibility and a broad range of experience. Some firms have a roster of external coaches available to coach on specialty areas, and some provide lawyers the option to work with an external coach for a set number of hours typically on particular issues such as career coaching or time management. One of the downsides—and upsides—of an external coach is a lack of intimate knowledge of the firm. Although this may be a perceived disadvantage, it can allow the external coach to provide a more objective perspective from outside the firm system.

And since some external coaches work regularly with the same firm, they have the benefit of being an outsider with an inside perspective, and can function similar to an internal coach. Another potential barrier to hiring an external coach can be cost. Especially for one-on-one coaching, external coaching can be a challenge for training budgets.

When return on investment for coaching is difficult to demonstrate, a large coaching budget can be a tough sell to firm management. One of the challenges to implementing and measuring the success of a coaching program is the difficulty in assessing return on investment ROI. In the ICF study, the challenge of measuring ROI was considered the second-largest barrier for organizations looking to provide coaching, with lack of time being first. Lisa Edwards has been a pioneer in this area and works with organizations on measuring coaching ROI and designing coaching programs that will demonstrate ROI.

For business development coaching, some firms measure the increase in revenue or business development opportunities generated, and in the case of career outplacement coaching, successful placements are tracked.

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Understanding Kirkpatrick's Four Levels

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Can You Measure the Impact of Learning on your Business

You just clipped your first slide! Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later. In practice it means that most managers have received coaching from an external coach, and that in turn they have learned coaching skills that enable them to engage with colleagues in a constructive and empowering way. Whichever strategy is the best for you to start with, it is absolutely essential that you have sound documentation and references, with statistics at hand and if possible with cases specific to the industry you work in that support the cause of introducing coaching to your organization.

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Measuring the Success of Coaching: A Step-by-Step Guide for Measuring Impact and Calculating ROI

You will have to convince the decision-makers that it is a worthwhile investment of time and money and that it will be profitable for your organization in the short and long run. So prepare your coaching project with solid arguments and examples of positive business results.

Here are three tips to write up your coaching initiative proposal so that it is more likely to get management approval. Companies that have achieved a coaching culture usually conducted large-scale change programmes, driven by the senior management. Major organizations like the UK Foreign Office, Siemens or IBM integrated coaching in their leadership strategy and deployed it as a culture change process.

At least get their endorsement to start in one corner of the organization, a department, a work unit or across a functional level such as all the sales team leaders. Like any other learning and development initiative, each of the three organizational coaching strategies mentioned above needs to be measured in terms of impact on individuals and on the company, so make sure you collect feedback on all your coaching initiatives and that you measure the business results.

There is no single way to measure the impact of coaching, that is why studies on return on investment give very different results. It really depends on what is measured and how it is measured. Ultimately it will be your task to determine relevant metrics and measure the results of coaching based on the key performance indicators and competence framework that are unique to your company. This is a tedious task, but it must be done unwaveringly and systematically if you want to develop evidence about the effectiveness and credibility of coaching in your organization.

You should be measuring intangible and tangible outcomes, as well as return on investment whenever possible.


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You must also decide on a methodology and measurement tools. The New World Kirpatrick Model is a tested and useful method, in particular with the addition of a Level 4 evaluation which measures business results.