Home Tools and Applications Executive Coaching Executive Coaches Share Openly and Unselfishly: Dynamic Panel Discussion at ICF Annual Conference 2003

Executive Coaches Share Openly and Unselfishly: Dynamic Panel Discussion at ICF Annual Conference 2003

81 min read

Bill: I think we’re allowed some differences, right? So, I want to push a difference here and be critical of ROI. First, when I look at executive coaching I think of executive not as a position in the organization but as a function in making decisions under conditions of complexity, unpredictability and turbulence. As opposed to performance coaching which is about influencing actual behavior. Part of the problem with ROI is that it tends to move us toward performance coaching: it’s much easier to measure changes in behavior and the impact in behavior. I think it’s much harder to measure the impact of shifts in decision making processes. It is possible, but it tends to be a much longer term measurement. Second, we are usually not dealing with puzzles when engaged in executive coaching. We are often instead usually addressing a problem that our client has identified. Puzzles are measurable and can be addressed through a specific discipline (such as finance or marketing). Problems, on the other hand, are messy, multidisciplinary, dilemma-filled, nested, and even paradoxical. Problems are very hard to measure. What I fear with ROI, not all, but many of the ROI models is it pushes us into puzzles, when in fact we can be most successful as coaches when we address problems. Finally, something that Mary Beth said is really important: most problems are a mixture of some things we have control over and other things over which we don’t have any control. So, any measurement we do, if we ever do a measurement, has to be sensitive to those things that impact the outcomes but are not specifically associated with the coaching process.

Val: The only thing I’ll add, I totally agree with everything that’s been said. I would add that the ROI conversation is one that I would not separate from coaching itself. So, what I found is very useful is that as a coach, you can educate people to think that way while you’re coaching, all the time, so we don’t even have to wait for the evaluation day or the update day. For example, I was coaching a group last week, we were doing group coaching, so about 10 managers came together. My homework assignment for them was to do something during the following week that demonstrates the five particular skills on which we were working. They did that, but then my question when we debriefed was: “What did you do? And can you tell me about the impact.” I would then ask each person the same question: “What was the business result? How would you relate this to your bottom line?” They’re in an operations area: speed of phone- answering. These are things they can easily measure, so I didn’t actually have to go as far as the numbers. I just had to ask them: “What’ s the business result?” You start educating the client to look at ROI all the time—in addition to the more formal measurement. I’ll encourage you to do that too.

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