By Noah Blumenthal, Elisa Mallis and Karlin Sloan
[The following article was contributed by Karlin Sloan. Her firm (Karlin Sloan and Company) is a sponsor of the Library of Professional Coaching]
Everyone knows that executive coaching works. Right? Wrong. Unfortunately, this cavalier attitude is all too prevalent in Human Resources, soft skills training, leadership development and yes, coaching. As a young and fast growing field, coaching still has a lot to prove, and purchasers of coaching services have a lot to learn.
Fortunately, coaching does indeed have a powerful impact, but only when competently performed, in the right circumstances, with the right support and for the right reasons. In order for the rapidly growing ranks of executive coaches to be differentiated from the pack, they will have to demonstrate their own accountability. This will mean defining the necessary circumstances for their coaching to be successful, and then, more importantly, measuring that success to show the purchasers that their investment resulted in positive change.
Measurement in coaching is critical for many reasons. As a group of practitioners, coaches need to more clearly define the changes they are capable of helping their clients to make. This will lay the groundwork for consumers to clearly understand what they can and can’t get from coaching, and conversely to realize exactly how much value they can gain from coaching.
Executive coaching, when done right, isn’t just a feel good experience. It isn’t just another way to improve people skills. Executive coaching affects retention, job satisfaction, and individual and team productivity at the most senior levels of an organization. Buyers need to see in real dollar terms how big the payoff can be for what may seem like an expensive, individual investment. Finally, coaches need evidence on when to sell more, and buyers need evidence on when to buy more services following a successful coaching engagement. The only way to accomplish all of these goals is for coaches to get serious about measuring their work.