COACHING AND MEASURABLE RESULTS
Measurable results are often seen as the sine qua non of all aspects of business. In my business, we often think of results in terms of Return on Investment (ROI). I can understand demands to prove ROI, even as I tend to push back when people narrowly define what to measure and how. Recently, I pushed back when a CEO I was working with focused on financial return even when thinking about “investing” in his people.
Related to the way we see business results is the common characterization of skills as “hard” and “soft.” This description makes “soft” skills sound squishy, fluffy, and not essential. Yet in interviews I did for a manufacturing company this summer, employees were crystal clear about behaviors that both the CEO and Director of Operations use in order to lead effectively. Employees were equally clear about the results of effective leadership: they work hard, constantly improve products and teamwork, and definitely want to continue to work there. As I see it, there is nothing “soft” either about effective leadership or the results.
How do we think about the results of coaching, which deals with both skill development and, as I practice it, transformation. Skill development can be difficult to measure, which is probably why it is (wrongly) characterized as "soft." And transformation? Wow—even more difficult to measure. Or is it?
Studies of coaching ROI can tell us about improvements in skill sets. For example, one study of the results of providing coaching to Executive Directors showed statistically significant improvements in these areas:
• The ability to communicate well with staff and board.
• Clarity of leaders’ vision for the organization, “as well as staff and Board alignment with the mission.”
• The leaders’ experience of work as challenging in a positive way.
• Reducing stress and burnout. (Compasspoint, 2003)
Now think about how you know when transformation happens. Think of someone who helped you make a significant discovery about yourself and your potential. Here is an example: Steve Jobs was a goof-off until a teacher showed genuine curiosity about him, watched how he learned, experimented with activities that motivated him, and believed in him from beginning to end. Jobs quickly learned to love school and became a voracious learner. (Isaacson, 2011).
Who helped you grow by believing in you, paying close attention, showing insight into what makes you the best you can be, and helping you find and practice ways to LIVE that at work? How did you respond? What changed in you? Imagine such a person walking beside you as a coach.