Coaching Culture: how will we know it’s successful?

Evaluation of your coaching culture starts at the end result – with the performance outcomes for the business. But that doesn’t mean that you should wait to come up with an evaluation strategy until the work has started or even ended, because you might end up doing the wrong work that doesn’t lead to the measures of success that you are really aiming for.

So when it comes to measuring the success of coaching and a coaching culture, start with the end in mind – what is it that you want to see that is different in the organisation? That may be quantitative or qualitative, or both.

There are multiple levels at which success might be measured.  At an organisational level, has the culture changed (eg, how well has the organisation integrated coaching into all people management processes, how highly do people rate their managers as coaches)?  At an individual level, has the individual met or exceeded his or her goals for the coaching programme?  At a team level, has the team met of exceeded its goals for the coaching programme?

Ideally, you will want to measure leading indicators and lagging indicators.  Lagging indicators are the end results, and you can only measure these at the end of a programme.  But in the meantime, the leading indicators, if tweaked, will help to gain those lagging measures.  So it’s worthwhile putting some thought into both.  Where do we want to end up, and how will we get there?

For example, lagging measures might be around a specific measurable improved business result, or improvement in employee survey results related to their manager’s style.  Or for the individual, the lagging measures are the end goals they set for themselves – a promotion perhaps, or a new role, a new set of behaviours, or a better relationship with a client.  But if you wait to measure these outcomes, and they are not what you expected/hoped for, then you have waited a long time to make amendments that might have led to better outcomes in the first place.

Leading measures at the individual level will be very tailored to their end goals, but would likely include small regular steps, repeated micro-actions that will enable them to get to that end goal.   Things like journalling every day to get them to reflect on their progress.  Or giving themselves a moment’s pause to think, every time a new request comes in, to decide whether to prioritize it or not.  I can’t possibly provide an exhaustive list of leading measures here – it really does depend on the end goals.  Generally, these are the kinds of actions that coachees identify for themselves each time they come to a coaching session, rather than things they identify at the start of the coaching – so that makes these leading measures different from the ones you would need to identify at the macro, organisational level, which you really should identify up front.

I wish I could give more detail about the exact lagging and leading indicators that should be chosen – but this has to be figured out on a case by case basis, depending on the strategy.  Suffice to say, as a reminder, that this should be established at the beginning as part of the strategy work, rather than after the work has started, so that you are doing the right things to get you to where you want to go.