. 5
( 8)


150 Coaching That Counts

Table 9.1 Agenda for an Orientation Session to Launch a Coaching Initiative

Timing Activity Resources
6:30 p.m. Evening reception, networking, Members of the
and dinner governance board;
CEO Welcome presentation: Welcome presentation
1. Fast-track leadership development
will lead to fast-track business results
2. CEO™s expectations for leaders and
the business
3. Q & A
9:00 Adjourn
Main Session Opening, introductions, review of Opening presentation;
8:00 a.m. agenda and objectives talking points for HR
8:30 Presentation: The strategic Two business unit
challenges facing the company leaders; coaches who
1. Pro¬table growth in selected acted as cofacilitators
emerging markets for each table (10
2. Closing the leadership gap pairs of coaches
3. Expected contribution from each
leader and how coaching is a key
4. Q & A
Table discussions: Coaches facilitate
each of 10 tables:
1. Key messages from the
presentations by the CEO (last
evening) and the two BU leaders
2. Implications for what the leaders
must do differently to rise to the
strategic challenges
General discussion: Some tables report
out to the general session what they
discussed. Leaders were asked to write
down, on 3-by-5-inch cards, questions
they may have about coaching.
10:15 BREAK
Best Practices for Managing a Successful Coaching Initiative 151

Table 9.1 Continued

Timing Activity Resources
10:45 Presentation: Executive coaching” Wendy and four
what it is and isn™t coaches present and
(Question cards were collected by conduct a panel;
coaches and then organized.) 3-by-5-inch cards;
After a brief presentation, the panel of Coach/leader meeting
coaches addressed the questions on schedule posted on
the cards as well as questions from wall
the general audience.
12:00 LUNCH
1:00 Coach/leader round-robin meetings Break-out areas for
Explanation of the meeting schedule each coach (20)
and the round-robin format
Each coach spent 20 minutes with a
group of up to ¬ve leaders to get
acquainted, talk about backgrounds,
coaching expectations, and experience.
Then, after 20 minutes, the leaders
walked to their next meeting with a
2:30 BREAK
3:00 Expectations exchange: What will Five break-out rooms;
maximize the success of coaching? facilitators for four
Five break-out sessions were each groups that came from
conducted with about 18 to 20 the HR leadership
leaders and 4 coaches: development function
1. What do we collectively need to
do to make coaching as successful
as possible?
2. What do we need from the
organization to make coaching
3. What ground rules for coaching can
we all agree on?
(Facilitators quickly organize discussion
summaries to share with the general
General discussion: Facilitators share
summaries and seek consensus on
operating ground rules.
152 Coaching That Counts

Table 9.1 Continued

Timing Activity Resources
4:30 Review of next steps List of next steps
1. Each leader e-mails to Wendy his or
her priority of coaches to work with.
2. Wendy ¬nalizes and distributes the
list of coaching assignments.
3. Session notes, including operating
ground rules for coaching, are
Wendy ¬elds ¬nal Q & A and adds
next steps as needed.

time to address any issues the leaders had. The bridge activity
was when the leaders identi¬ed what they must do differently
to support the business strategy. Having the coaches facilitate
these break-out sessions enabled them to see ¬rsthand how the
leaders viewed their role and challenges to achieve the strategy.
3. Clients were given the opportunity to select a coach. Getting the
chemistry right between the coach and client is one of the most
important determinants of a successful coaching relationship.
There really is no way to know in advance how well the coach
and client will hit it off. The round-robin approach enabled
each leader to spend 20 minutes with a coach that he or she
preselected. Although not a lot of time, it was suf¬cient to get
acquainted and get some hints as to whether the chemistry
may be right. As a next step after the session, leaders sent in
their ¬rst, second, and third choices for a coach. Wendy later
honored as many of these choices as possible, while evening
out the workload for each individual coach.
4. Coaches and clients shared ground rules for coaching. One of the
biggest derailers for a successful coaching relationship is a kind
of creeping passive resistance on the part of the client. Clients
are late to their coaching calls or repeatedly reschedule
Best Practices for Managing a Successful Coaching Initiative 153

coaching sessions. The length of time between coaching ses-
sions stretches out as clients take longer and longer to imple-
ment action items from the coaching sessions. Establishing
operating ground rules can be an effective way to inoculate a
coaching relationship from losing steam. Examples of ground
rules include being punctual on coaching calls, completing
action items in a timely way, and investing the time and energy
required to make substantial behavior changes.
The afternoon of the orientation session featured an activ-
ity that allowed all participants to identify and then agree to
the operating ground rules to make coaching successful. This
agreement became the commitment that each participant
agreed to bring to coaching. If the coach, or client, begins to
sense that the commitment to these ground rules is wavering,
then he or she can raise this issue in the context of what has
been previously agreed to. There are, of course, times when
coaching may legitimately have to take a back seat, but this
decision should be mutual by both client and coach. Referring
to the ground rules can be a way to discuss this issue in a non-
defensive atmosphere.

Set Up Signposts to Gauge How Coaching
Is Progressing

Successfully managing a coaching initiative means striking a balance
between making sure coaching is valuable for the client and for the
organization. If you tip too far in the direction of value delivery for
the individual client, then you run the risk of generating little value
to the company. Tip too far in the other direction and you may com-
promise the integrity and privacy of the coaching relationship.
Wendy developed a unique and successful approach to strike the
appropriate balance. She asked each leader and coach to achieve a
series of signposts as the coaching relationship progressed. These
signposts included the following:
154 Coaching That Counts

First coaching session conducted
Assessments completed, including multirater interviews
Objectives set for the coaching relationship
Each objective achieved by the client (there was usually more
than one objective)

The coach and client would mutually agree that each signpost was
completed and then forward the dates to Wendy. Wendy did not
need to know the content of each signpost (thus maintaining the
integrity and privacy of the relationship), only the date that it had
been completed (thus managing the coaching to ensure value for the
organization). Wendy kept a master chart showing the progress of
each coaching relationship. One of her key learnings was that the
assessments were often not completed until after coaching had pro-
gressed for two or more months. This meant that the objectives were
often modi¬ed in the middle of the coaching process to respond to
the feedback. Coaching often began with a presenting problem and
previous assessment data. Coaches often had their own surveys they
administered early in the relationship, which offered further insight
into behavioral issues. As a result, the process of setting objectives
and achieving them was more ¬‚uid and dynamic than Wendy
expected. Still, the signpost process was valuable in tracking these
developments and taking appropriate remedial actions. For
example, Wendy explored why the multisource assessments were
taking so long and discovered that some of the people who were
asked to provide assessment data (e.g., peers and supervisors) knew
little about the coaching initiative. Consequently, they were reluc-
tant to provide data until they learned more about the intentions
and scope of the coaching and data collection. Wendy responded by
communicating directly with people who were asked (or going to be
asked) to provide data.
The role of the company™s competency model came up as well.
Competencies were descriptions of behaviors, and these behaviors
were viewed as outcomes of deeper issues that had to be addressed
by coaching. These deeper issues, like those discussed in the ¬rst
section of this book, dealt with managing (or repairing) relation-
Best Practices for Managing a Successful Coaching Initiative 155

ships, gaining alignment with personal values, and risk taking. Soon
after embarking on this deeper journey, clients were off the charts
of competency models. Competencies were viewed as a great place
to start, but the deeper work took the client and coach to address
other issues. Each coaching relationship required the freedom to go
down its own path.

Build Performance Evaluation into
the Coaching Process

In the previous chapter, we followed the travails of the HR senior
VP at PharmaQuest. He initially viewed evaluation in terms of
schedule attainment and budget performance. The unsolicited and
positive comments by coaching clients were icing on the cake;
however, the COO had other ideas. What the COO was looking for
was evidence of the impact of coaching on the business. The ques-
tion of impact is answered through an evaluation process, and the
earlier this process is started, the greater the bene¬t to managing the
coaching initiative.
Wendy™s initial discussions with the coaching company centered
around the results that were expected. When Wendy got her march-
ing orders from senior leadership, she was also given clear expecta-
tions for what the coaching initiative was to accomplish: accelerate
the development of leaders so they could more quickly assume added
leadership responsibilities. In consultation with the coaching com-
pany project manager and agreement by the governance board, she
decided on conducting a pre/postassessment of all leaders according
to the competency model. Of the 100 leaders initially identi¬ed for
the coaching initiative, about 20 were not able to participate at that
time. This opened up the possibility of using this group of 20 as a
comparison group for the 80 or so who could participate in coach-
ing (statisticians might cringe here, given the unequal size of the two
groups and the nonrandom assignment of leaders to one of two
groups, but in the real world we make due). Arrangements were
made to conduct pre/postassessments and compare those who
received coaching with those who did not. If the evaluation issue had
156 Coaching That Counts

not been addressed at the beginning of the initiative, the preassess-
ments would not have been conducted with the 20 people in the
comparison group. The earlier evaluation is considered, the greater
the options are for conducting a meaningful evaluation.
There are two other upsides to building evaluation methodology
into the coaching initiative early: (1) gaining greater discipline in
how the coaching initiative is managed and (2) reinforcing account-
ability for results. Greater discipline comes from how evaluation
makes sure that all bases are covered. So many coaching initiatives
are launched like the one at PharmaQuest with little initial thought
given to leadership expectations, speci¬c objectives that are tied to
business goals, and an acknowledgment of what success will look
like at the end. Evaluation cannot be done without answering these
Few people working in organizations today, especially large
organizations, feel they have the time to conduct these evaluation
activities. There is a time investment; however, there is also a
payback including time savings. How much time would the HR
senior VP at PharmaQuest have saved if he had made the effort to
understand the COO™s expectations upfront and taken the appro-
priate actions? More to the point, how much more valuable to the
business would coaching (and other developmental activities) have
been if the HR senior VP had conducted the appropriate activities?
People cannot fairly be held accountable for outcomes for which
they are unaware. Following the evaluation methodology clari¬es
expected outcomes and makes sure that everyone understands what
is expected of them. Wendy learned early that she was going to be
held accountable for reducing the time to develop leaders™ compe-
tencies. As a result, she put in place a series of signposts to help
manage the initiative and developed an evaluation architecture to
demonstrate results. Not only was Wendy accountable, she had the
means to deliver on her accountabilities. Business leaders expect no
less from leadership development professionals and, therefore,
leadership development professionals should expect no less from
How Coaches Navigate
Turbulent Organizations

Let™s start with an all-too-familiar story. Sarah had done a spectac-
ular job coaching three insurance company executives. In the six
months she had been working with them, each had made a shift to
a more authentic and powerful leadership style that was more com-
patible with the culture of their company than their previous styles.
Each client was complimentary to Sarah and deeply appreciated her
contributions to their development. Sarah debriefed the HR VP on
these successes and was looking forward to building on this success
to coach more executives with the company. The HR VP said that
he would call when an opportunity arose. The call never came. Sarah
was a great coach, but she was not a consultant. Let™s explore what
it means to be a coach and a consultant and what Sarah could have
done differently to leverage both roles and expand her business

Being a Coach, Being a Consultant

Being a coach and being a consultant are very different roles, and
both are required in order for a coaching initiative to be successful.
Initiative is the operative word here. A person who is in the role of
a coach works on an individual level with a client or series of clients.
For this person to also wear the hat of a consultant takes the focus
to an organization level (Table 10.1). Working at the organiza-
tion level opens up new opportunities and responsibilities. The

158 Coaching That Counts

Table 10.1 Contrasts Between Coach and Consultant

Coach Consultant
Individual Organization
Client Sponsor
Competencies Capabilities
Development Needs Company Strategy
Personality Culture
Motivation Power
Personal Values Stated Values
Content Context

consultant must ensure that there is strong senior leader sponsor-
ship for the coaching initiative. Very often, and especially initially,
sponsors need to be educated about what coaching can offer and
how it must be supported. Sponsors and other senior leaders must
have a ¬rm grasp on how coaching will ultimately contribute to
achieving the company strategy. Coaching may be the “right thing
to do,” but few leaders will sign up for sponsoring a coaching ini-
tiative unless this initiative is anchored in achieving business results.
Another important focus of consulting with business leaders to
deploy a successful coaching initiative is the organizational context
in which coaching operates. How well is coaching integrated with
the competency model in use in the organization? The coaching ini-
tiative must be perceived as a natural outgrowth of the company™s
learning strategy or HR strategy. Chapter 8 explored how to make
sure that coaching is integrated with other people-related strategies.
The consultant then partners with the leaders of learning, leader-
ship, HR, and others to shape their perceptions of how coaching
contributes to achieving these people-related strategies.
Ultimately, the value of a coaching initiative is viewed by how it
closes a performance gap. What performance levels are required in
the future? What is the current level of performance? and How will
coaching close this gap? It isn™t enough that coaching be viewed as
How Coaches Navigate Turbulent Organizations 159

a more effective or less costly alternative to other leadership devel-
opment efforts. Whereas the coach is concerned with how coaching
will improve the individual client™s leadership skills, the consultant
is concerned with building the business case for how coaching is an
indispensable tool for building strategic capability and closing per-
formance gaps. Let™s rewind our story with Sarah to see what she
could have done differently.

What Sarah Could Have Done Differently

Understood business strategy and how coaching ¬ts. In her six
months coaching the three clients, Sarah had learned little
about the business. Her updates with the HR VP were limited
to generalized descriptions of the progress the clients were
making. Each of these updates was a golden opportunity to
educate the HR VP on the business value of coaching, and more
to the point, the potential positive impact on the business that
would be gained by expanding the coaching initiative. Most HR
VPs have a lot on their plate, and it is a mistake to assume that
they will automatically understand how coaching will relate to
achieving business strategy.
First and foremost, the person wearing the consulting hat
must be a student of the business. He or she must access Web
sites, annual reports, investor reports, magazine articles, and
other sources of information to quickly come up to speed on
the organization and the industry. Effective consultants
develop a point of view. Do not just regurgitate information:
translate the information into insights about how to achieve
strategy. Educate the business leaders about how a coaching ini-
tiative can make a meaningful and strategic contribution. Open
up possibilities. Coaches often leave their consultant hat on the
table and are content to be a business tourist. As Sarah learned,
the time of being only a tourist can be short-lived and ulti-
mately less satisfying than a longer-term relationship with a
client organization.
160 Coaching That Counts

Diagnosed the performance gap and how coaching can close the
gap. Why coach? Unfortunately, the answer is often: “Why not?”
Everyone is doing coaching, so it must be good. Coaching
books have proliferated. Coaching gurus are sprouting up like
daisies. Get on the bandwagon early so you™re not left out! This
bandwagon mentality may be viewed as good for the burgeon-
ing coaching industry in the short term; however, this mental-
ity is good for no one in the longer term, especially client
When people put on their consulting hat, they begin to ask
business leaders and potential sponsors some tough questions.
If Sarah had put on her consulting hat, she could have asked
questions such as the following:

What do you view as the top performance issues your busi-
ness faces?
How do you feel your strategy has raised the bar for
What are you not getting from leadership that you most need?
How does your people strategy support leadership develop-
What are your expectations for how coaching will improve
What objectives have you set for the coaching initiative?

Sarah would ask these questions within a backdrop of her
own research, and based on this research, she would have her
own ideas about the answers to these questions. This is where
developing a point of view comes into play. Let™s look at a spe-
ci¬c example of how Sarah could have worked with the HR VP
in a different way.

Prologue. Sarah had read the company™s people strategy, and it
had all the right words about the importance of people and
commitment to learning. What was conspicuous in its absence
(at least to Sarah) was that the strategy and tangible business
How Coaches Navigate Turbulent Organizations 161

outcomes were not closely linked. This was, to Sarah, a serious
strategic disconnect. She could see why HR initiatives were
viewed as ¬‚uffy by business leaders. She developed a point of
view: the coaching initiative must be linked to a business
outcome, and the HR leader must own not only the coaching
initiative but also part of the business outcome.
Act One. Sarah decided to devote her third monthly progress
review session with the HR VP to mutually exploring potential
business outcomes. Well-armed with a point of view, she began
the following conversation:

Sarah: I have really enjoyed coaching these three leaders, and
I believe we are making real progress.
HRVP: Yes, I agree. I am hearing some good early buzz from
these sessions.
Sarah: We have talked about what you generally expect from
each individual I am coaching. What I would like to
explore with you now is what you expect from coach-
ing as an intervention or initiative for your company.
HRVP: What do you mean exactly?
Sarah: Well, for starters, how do you think coaching ¬ts
within the people strategy?
HRVP: I think that it™s pretty straightforward. Coaching is a
developmental tool, and people development is one
of the central pillars of our people strategy. Is this
what you™re driving at?
Sarah: We™re driving in the right direction. Speci¬cally, when
I read your people strategy, I could see how coaching
¬ts as a development tool, but to what end? I guess
my question is how you think leadership develop-
ment will impact the business?
HRVP: Hmm, that™s a good question. I would say that it
would surface in many ways, such as better decision
making, improved problem solving, increased effec-
tiveness as a leader . . .
162 Coaching That Counts

Sarah: Yes, I would agree with these outcomes, and let me go
one step further.
HRVP: All right.
Sarah: You mentioned increased effectiveness as a leader.
Given your business growth strategy, it seems like you
will need many more leaders than you have now.
HRVP: Yes, our business will grow 40 percent in the next
three years.
Sarah: Is it fair to say that the business outcome of leader-
ship development will be to accelerate building the
bench strength of leaders?
HRVP: Most de¬nitely.
Sarah: So, by accelerating the supply of available leaders, it
seems that you are producing a tangible business
HRVP: Yes, it™s very tangible and one that we measure. Every
year leaders are rated as “ready now, ready in one year,
ready in two years” to assume greater leadership roles
in the company. Come to think of it, given our three-
year growth strategy, we should probably do this
every six months, not annually. At any rate, coaching
could play a key role in accelerating this leadership
supply process.
Sarah: It may be time to think about how to leverage coach-
ing across a bigger base than just three leaders.
HRVP: Yes, that™s a good point. There are at least forty other
leaders who would bene¬t from coaching, and more
to the point, the business requires this for achieving
the strategy.
Sarah: I™m prepared to help in any way I can. What do you
see as our next steps?

This conversation served as a platform for Sarah and the
HR VP to design a coaching initiative with a tangible and
strategic business outcome. She knew that the HR VP would
need help in moving this initiative forward, so she got the green
How Coaches Navigate Turbulent Organizations 163

light from him to meet with more leaders and key in¬‚uencers
in the decision to move forward with a broader coaching
initiative. Which brings us to the next thing she could have
Increased networking within the company. First, networking
does not mean selling. A big hot button for most leaders is
having coaches stealthily network throughout their organiza-
tions looking for more coaching clients. The intention of net-
working is to open up possibilities for new relationships and to
add value along the way. The one-act play opened the oppor-
tunity for Sarah to meet new leaders with a speci¬c purpose
and mandate from her sponsor: Position coaching as a business
initiative with a tangible outcome and seek the support of key
business leaders and in¬‚uencers to proceed with coaching. Of
course, if Sarah is successful, she will have a lot more coaching
work to do. The point is that she is approaching these meetings
from the vantage point of how to achieve the business strategy,
not how to feather her own nest.
Focused on building relationships. These initial meetings are
openings and, if appropriate, can lead to building stronger rela-
tionships with a broader group of leaders. For example, Sarah
could debrief the HR VP on her leader conversations and iden-
tify a critical set of leaders who will need to continue to be
engaged in the coaching initiative. Sarah can work with the HR
VP to develop an agenda and a set of outcomes for these con-
versations, and in so doing, can de¬ne how these relationships
can grow and blossom.
Asked for the business. Sarah concluded the one-act play with
the right punchline: “I™m prepared to help in any way I can.
What do you see as our next steps?” She asked for the order. So
often, as consultants we do all of the legwork, work hard, get
right to the altar, and then fail to pop the question. Don™t be
shy about asking for the work. By wearing the consulting hat,
you are offering a new set of valuable services. Work with your
sponsors to understand their needs, performance issues, and
business requirements. Educate your sponsors on how your
164 Coaching That Counts

solutions will meet their needs. And when you get their atten-
tion, be sure to ask for the work.

Sorting Out the Cast of Characters

Our one-act play had two characters: Sarah and the HR VP who was
sponsoring the coaching of three leaders. In reality, consultants have
to deal with a whole cast of characters, including the following:

Sponsors. These people (or person) own the performance issue
and the outcome of the coaching initiative. The HR VP was the
coaching sponsor in our vignette.
Buyers. Sponsors may or may not have the budget to pay for
the entire coaching initiative. The budget to pay for coaching
often comes from many sources, especially in larger organiza-
tions and those that are decentralized. So, in the previous
example, the HR VP is sponsoring coaching, but the budget
money for the delivery of coaching comes from the individual
business units whose leaders are being coached.
Key in¬‚uencers. Sponsors and buyers have a lot of in¬‚uence in
the course and direction of coaching, but there may be others
as well who, by virtue of their stature in the organization, can
exercise considerable in¬‚uence on a coaching initiative. A
couple of examples include a leader who “has the ear” of the
CEO or someone who is widely viewed as a thought leader in
the area of leadership development. Each may hold consider-
able sway over decisions regarding coaching.
Path¬nders. These people are often initial contacts in an orga-
nization and help consultants learn the ropes. In the case of the
vignette, this could have been a direct report of the HR VP,
perhaps the director of leadership development. The director
could have helped Sarah understand the company culture, sort
out the cast of characters, provide introductions to others in
the HR organization, answer questions about people, and per-
formed other kinds of orientations.
How Coaches Navigate Turbulent Organizations 165

Dragons. Not everyone is enamored of coaching or, for that
matter, consultants. These people will likely oppose coaching,
perhaps have had a bad experience with coaching, or have some
misconceptions about coaching. Some leaders have an axe to
grind that, although not directly related to coaching, will
surface during decision making about a coaching initiative. A
VP of manufacturing, for example, who had a key initiative
shot down by the HR VP will oppose the HR VP™s proposal for
coaching as payback. Path¬nders, by the way, can be helpful in
¬‚ushing out these dragons so the dragons can be dealt with as
effectively as possible.
Running buddies. Over a period of time, a consultant may work
closely with a particular person and develop a strong relation-
ship. Running buddies are those people with whom the con-
sultant can let down some of his or her guard and privately
share concerns or problems regarding the coaching engage-
ment. There is certainly an element of risk in doing this, but
this sharing is also a re¬‚ection of trust in the relationship. As
long as the intention is to always work in the client™s best inter-
est, and the trust is established, then the risk is well worth

Develop a Navigation Strategy

Now that we have sorted out the cast of characters, how can coach-
ing consultants best carve out a winning role for themselves by nav-
igating these potentially turbulent organizations? The following
represents some tips for developing a strategy for working within a
client system. It is important to keep in mind that an organization
is a complex system in which any action can have unintended con-
sequences. Although no one can predict what these consequences
may be, successful consultants prepare for what may come. This
underscores the need to become a student of the business, quickly
identify the key players, set your sights on the prize, and develop a
winning business proposal.
166 Coaching That Counts

Tip 1: Become a Student of the Business

Really good consultants have an insatiable curiosity about how
business works: how things get made, transactions get processed,
and services get delivered. Learn as much as you can about the
client company and the client™s industry. The Internet offers a trea-
sure trove of information and easy access to client information,
annual reports, investor analysis, magazine articles, and so forth;
however, being a good student means more than doing the home-
work. When going on-site to the client location, take the opportu-
nity to tour the facilities. Come to the tour with a set of questions
about how business gets done. Learn about how the company units
are connected (or disconnected!); see product move through the
system; see how customers are dealt with; take in the company
culture and begin to understand the organizational context in which
people work.
Demonstrating an active and visible interest in the business can
also be a differentiator from other coaches who may not don the
consulting hat. Conversations with several senior leaders and coach-
ing clients revealed one of their hot buttons in this regard: they have
trouble relating to coaches who do not understand the company
culture or the organizational context in which they work. This
concern or frustration can continue to build as coaching sessions
are delivered exclusively over the telephone. Clients who say they
prefer coaching sessions to be in person are often expressing a
wish for the coach to understand the extent to which the client™s
behavior is adapting to the organization™s norms and cultural
context. Beginning the coaching relationship with an on-site
onboarding and orientation process can alleviate these concerns
early in the relationship. Occasional follow-up on-site visits can be
undertaken to continue the process of understanding the client™s
behavior in the broader organizational context. These on-site visits
also provide a platform for spending time with the sponsor of
coaching, meeting other client people, and better understanding the
cast of characters.
How Coaches Navigate Turbulent Organizations 167

Tip 2: Quickly Identify the Key Players

The previous section of this chapter identi¬ed some key roles. The
coach/consultant™s job is to ¬nd out who is playing these key roles,
and in some cases, to convert people to either play an additional role
or change roles during the course of the coaching initiative. This
exploration typically begins with the path¬nder or sponsor. The
path¬nder could be the initial contact within the organization,
perhaps someone who contacted the coach at a conference. This
person, although not the decision maker, can put the coach in
contact with the decision maker. Gaining this entr©e often puts the
coach in contact with the person who is the sponsor of coaching.
Early conversations with the sponsor will reveal the potential buyers
of the coaching services. Follow the money. Whoever is paying for
the coaching will have to be reckoned with at some point. If at all
possible, arrange to meet these buyers to better understand what
they expect from the coaching and to begin to educate them about
the coaching process and possibilities. Shape the expectations of
buyers for what coaching can do for their business.
All buyers have in¬‚uence on the course and direction of the
coaching initiative. In fact, they are often less interested in coaching
as an initiative and more interested in how coaching will positively
(and quickly) impact their business. Decentralized organizations
often create decentralized buying networks. This arrangement can
greatly complicate the consultant™s job to cobble together the
buyers to fund a coaching initiative. This also increases the risk
factors for the consultant. The consultant will need to invest
considerable resources to secure initiative funding and, for larger
initiatives, line up additional coaches to handle the potential
demand. Key in¬‚uencers can accelerate this process by encouraging
buyers to make the decision to proceed with the coaching initiative
more quickly.
168 Coaching That Counts

Tip 3: Set Your Sights on the Prize

A coaching initiative is a business investment, and it must be per-
ceived as value added to the business by the senior leaders. In chart-
ing the cast of characters, we followed the money to see where the
investment in coaching was going to come from. These investors
need to see value, as does the sponsor. It is important, therefore, to
articulate the value proposition to each of these leaders in order
for them to buy into the coaching initiative. For example, in the
vignette, Sarah was able to draw from the HR VP, who was the
sponsor, what he would view as of value to the business: increasing
the supply of leaders who are ready for promotion. Had Sarah gone
deeper, she would have continued to spin this idea until she discov-
ered a personal value need of the HR VP. Perhaps he felt that he
needed to be seen by his peers as an effective and capable leader of
the leadership supply process. Or perhaps he felt that he needed to
be viewed by the CEO to be more of a strategic business partner and
not just a supplier of HR services and transactions. Coaches have
the intuitive powers to readily get to these deeper value needs, and
by putting on the consulting hat, they must step up and ensure that
the coaching initiative addresses these needs for each of the major
decision makers.
Let™s not forget the needs of the coach either. The coach must
examine what he or she needs from the coaching initiative follow-
ing a similar process that was used with the HR VP and other
leaders. For starters, Sarah wants to expand her coaching business
in the client organization. She will develop some revenue and client
goals to re¬‚ect her expectations for business growth. Upon further
re¬‚ection, Sarah may also recognize deeper value needs (especially
if she has her own coach!). For example, she may need to be seen as
a business peer by the HR VP or the CEO, or perhaps she feels that
she needs to position herself as someone who builds strategic capa-
bility in organizations and not only as a coach of individuals. What-
ever these needs are, she must perceive that the coaching initiative
is meeting her higher value and developmental needs.
How Coaches Navigate Turbulent Organizations 169

One outcome that all people value is the impact on the business.
At this point in the process, we are on the verge of writing a work
proposal (which is covered in the next section of this chapter). We
cannot say for certain how coaching will impact the business and
the potential monetary value that may be produced. We can,
however, unlock this potential value with two simple words: “so
that.” Case in point: Sarah got the HR VP to see how coaching will
accelerate the supply of available leaders. Both agreed that business
impact would occur, but they did not explore this issue any further.
How could this have been done? Sarah could amend the statement
with “so that” and have the HR VP ¬ll in the blanks. Coaching will
accelerate the supply of available leaders so that:

Critical leadership positions will be ¬lled more quickly.
The company will rely less on external recruiters.
New business opportunities can be explored.

Sarah can continue to explore with the HR VP (and others) the
potential chain of business impact using the “so that” process. For
example: Critical leadership positions will be ¬lled more quickly
so that:

Sales targets in existing markets will continue to be met.
Employee focus and morale are maintained.
Customer relationships will not be interrupted or compromised.

Sarah can continue this “so that” process until all major avenues
of potential value creation are identi¬ed. Some of these sources of
value will be formally explored in the evaluation process, converted
to monetary value, and factored into the ROI equation. At this point
in the initiative, these “so that” probes heighten leaders™ awareness
of the potential for value creation. The prize begins to take shape in
people™s minds, and coaching becomes viewed as a business initia-
tive, not just a developmental initiative.
170 Coaching That Counts

Tip 4: Write a Winning Proposal

The next chapter delves into developing an evaluation strategy for a
coaching initiative. The work proposal provides a bridge from the
value propositions and the groundwork that has been laid to the
design and evaluation of the coaching initiative. Winning proposals
are short and sweet and present just enough information in order
for the senior leaders to make the right decision about moving
forward with coaching. Less is more. If information is not needed
for leaders to make a decision, then leave this information out. Work
proposals must highlight value to the business and respond to the
value propositions of the key players. The requirements for coach-
ing must be outlined so that leaders know what they are getting
themselves into. Including an evaluation strategy will show the
leaders how they will know if and when the value is delivered. A ¬nal
section on investment will help the leaders appropriately budget for
the initiative.

Highlight value to the business. This is the headliner in any work
proposal and represents the culmination of the “so that” series
of probes. In fact, if this section is not hard hitting and busi-
ness focused, many leaders will not read much further. Paint a
picture of how the organization will be improved as a result of
the coaching initiative. Earlier in this chapter, we talked about
describing the performance gap and how coaching will close
this gap. Connect the dots for the reader of the proposal. Do
not rely on the reader™s imagination to make the conceptual
leap of how coaching will create value and close the perfor-
mance gap. Make sure the proposal re¬‚ects the value the deci-
sion makers expect.
Outline the requirements for coaching. Present the broad strokes
of the coaching initiative: how many people, over what time
period will receive coaching. Show what the coaching will entail.
Describe the initial orientation session. Present the coaching
initiative in a way that demonstrates how the initiative is
How Coaches Navigate Turbulent Organizations 171

integrated with other HR and developmental efforts. For
example, the individual assessment phase may be based on the
company™s leadership competency model. A multisource inter-
view process will be incorporated into the assessment phase.
Coaching will be formally inducted into the company™s leader-
ship supply process. Position coaching as a strategic integrator
of the elements making up the company™s people strategy. All
of these efforts show how critical the coaching initiative will be
to meet the needs of the people and the business.
Show how the coaching initiative will be evaluated. Accountabil-
ity is a precious commodity. Initiatives are often launched in
organizations with big promises of a payoff, but as the initiative
drags on, these promises become a distant memory. For hard
asset initiatives, such as redesigning a manufacturing plant
layout, business leaders are sanguine about cutting the initiative
sponsor some slack. When it comes to the softer side of busi-
ness, like leadership development, business leaders are more
hard-nosed. In part this is because of the skepticism many
leaders harbor about the value of people development. It™s a
bigger conceptual leap to think in terms of people development
contributing to business value. It™s turning an intangible (learn-
ing) into a tangible (ROI) that takes longer to understand than
how a tangible (plant relayout) turns into an ROI.
This is where the evaluation plan comes into play. The next
chapter goes into considerable detail about how to design and
execute an evaluation strategy. At this point in the proposal
process, what is needed is to commit that this evaluation will
be done and that the promises made will be kept. The evalua-
tion plan also provides leaders with some signposts about what
is working and not working. By monitoring these signposts,
leaders have leverage over some risk factors in their investment.
Leaders have some early warnings about the progress of their
investment and can take some corrective actions. The ability to
manage risk lowers the resistance to proceeding with the pro-
posed initiative.
172 Coaching That Counts

State the required investment. At this point in reading the pro-
posal, it is hoped that the business leaders are so enthusiastic
that any level of investment will seem modest, in our dreams.
Business leaders will invest in a coaching initiative that
promises to meet their needs, but they may look for options
and choices for moving forward. One of the most frequent
options is to begin with a pilot program. The pilot represents
a subset of the greater population that may ultimately receive
coaching. The risk is less, because fewer people are involved and
the investment is less than full deployment. Another option is
for the client to rely on existing assessments and not pay for
the coach to conduct additional assessments. This option can
be less viable than the ¬rst, depending on the quality of the
assessments. Some company assessments that are institutional-
ized can become pro forma and do not reveal someone™s true
strengths and improvement opportunities. It is usually best to
give the coach free reign to collect and analyze assessment data
on which to base the coaching.
One popular option is for companies to have coaches train
employees to be coaches and to avoid most of the expense of
hiring outside coaches. These employees can belong to an HR
organization or be line managers in a business unit. Although
there is merit to building the coaching skills of staff and man-
agers, it should be recognized that these employees will provide
substantially different services than what a professional execu-
tive coach will provide. There is coaching, and then there is
coaching. Like any profession, coaching requires commitment,
education, practice, and achieving certi¬cation levels. The
International Coach Federation (ICF), for example, provides
certi¬cation and educational accreditation for the coaching
profession. If a company decides to launch an internal coach-
ing group, then the professional standards of the ICF should be
adopted. The worst-case scenario, which unfortunately is
played out all too often, is that leaders think a weeklong train-
ing class in coaching will get them the same value that an
How Coaches Navigate Turbulent Organizations 173

experienced professional coach provides. In these situations,
the experience with coaching is mixed, and leaders become dis-
enfranchised with coaching, not recognizing the quality differ-
ence between a low-budget, homegrown affair and professional
executive coaching.

Finally, clients may wish to exercise some choices about how best
to ¬nance the coaching initiative. Clients may decide, for example,
to handle the administrative aspects of the initiative and factor out
of the proposal any fees related to administration. Coaching via the
telephone as opposed to in-person may also reduce the total invest-
ment. The point is that clients appreciate having choices about how
to maximize their investment. Coaches should be ¬‚exible as long as
the coaching process is not compromised.

To Be or Not To Be a Consultant”and the Role
of Coaching Companies

No one said that consulting would be easy. What is outlined in this
chapter is really the barebones approach to moving from coaching
a few leaders to gaining the go-ahead for a coaching initiative. This
chapter represents the standard operating procedure for consultants,
but let™s face it: not all coaches are willing or able to be consultants.
So what do they do? This is where coaching companies come into
play. Coaching companies are responsible for developing business,
managing the client relationship, presenting proposals, and manag-
ing the coaching initiative. Coaches coach. Clients value coaching
companies because they offer a single point of contact to manage
the coaching initiative. These companies scan the marketplace for
coaches, qualify the coaches to a level of standards, bring the coaches
onboard, and manage their performance. Coaches will pay a
premium for this service, typically receiving less than their usual
coaching fee. The brokers assume most of the risk of the coaching
initiative, while the coaches”who are freed up from managing the
174 Coaching That Counts

relationship with the client organization”can concentrate on their
Many coaches have aligned themselves with coaching companies
for this very reason. This represents a choice for coaches: to be or
not to be a consultant. Given how coaching as a profession is evolv-
ing, not crossing over to embrace the consulting aspects of building
coaching capability may be a career-limiting move for a coach.
Coaches are increasingly expected to be well-rounded businesspeo-
ple, providing real value to organizations and openly accepting
accountability to deliver this value.
Section Three
Evaluating Coaching Success
This page intentionally left blank
Developing an Evaluation Strategy

Evaluations are performed against a set of criteria. In a business
setting, these criteria relate to business impact and achieving busi-
ness goals. For coaching to count it must be focused on business
impact and directed at achieving business goals. The evaluation
strategy ties together all of the pieces and ensures that a clear line of
sight is established from the business goals to the coaching initiative
objectives to the evaluation objectives. Moreover, developing the
evaluation strategy has value as a litmus test to ensure that coaching
is positioned to produce business value. Speci¬cally, there are ¬ve
practices of an effective evaluation strategy, each of which must be
in place for a coaching initiative to be evaluated, and even more
important, for coaching to have the intended impact on the business.
This lesson was learned the hard way at OptiCom (a ¬ctitious name).

The Five Practices of an Effective Evaluation Strategy

By all accounts, the ¬ve-month coaching pilot project at OptiCom
was viewed as a success: Comments and feedback from participants
were positive, and the Leadership Advisory Board seemed im-
pressed. So, given this outcome, Jacqui was a bit puzzled by the advi-
sory board™s request to formally evaluate the business impact of the
pilot before they authorized full deployment of the coaching initia-
tive. At stake here was deploying coaching to the top 80 leaders at
this telecommunications company. The pilot had been completed

178 Coaching That Counts

for almost two months now, and while several of the 10 pilot
participants had chosen to continue their coaching, Jacqui was
concerned about losing momentum for coaching the remaining
80 leaders. She felt a strong sense of urgency to do the evaluation
the Leadership Advisory Board had requested and get it over quickly
so full deployment of the coaching initiative could get underway.
Analysis paralysis could jeopardize full deployment of coaching.
In her role as the director of leadership development, Jacqui
decided to hire an outside evaluator, thinking that the evaluator
could quickly focus on the salient impact areas of the coaching and
produce a report that was credible in the board™s eyes. Michael, the
evaluator, sat down with Jacqui to map out the evaluation. Jacqui
presented the objectives and outcomes that were part of the pro-
posal for the coaching initiative (Table 11.1). It soon became appar-
ent to Michael that the coaching pilot could have been better
positioned in the organization. Reading between the lines, he could
understand the board™s uneasiness with moving the initiative to full
deployment. The immediate question before Michael was how to
share his critique with Jacqui in a way that would not make her feel
At ¬rst, Michael complimented Jacqui on completing the pilot
and shared with her how the board™s request for a business impact
evaluation was a good sign. It showed that they were keenly inter-
ested in coaching and were looking for ways to leverage coaching in
the organization. Besides, Michael reasoned, pilots are conducted to
learn about how best to move to full deployment, and this is really
what the board™s request boiled down to. Michael then shared ¬ve
practices of an effective evaluation strategy:

1. Link coaching to achieving business goals
2. Set objectives that include the application of coaching to the
3. Develop evaluation objectives that directly tie to coaching
Developing an Evaluation Strategy 179

Table 11.1 The Purpose and Outcomes of Coaching Document at OptiCom

Executive Coaching Pilot
OptiCom Leadership Development
Presentation to the Leadership Advisory Board
July 10, 2003
Overview It is proposed to provide all ninety Leadership Forum members
with ¬ve months of executive coaching. Given the level of
investment to implement this coaching, a pilot will be conducted
to determine if coaching would be an effective development
approach for OptiCom.
Objectives The objectives of the coaching are:
1. To provide executives with a personalized ¬ve-month
development experience.
2. To incorporate the leadership competency model into the
3. To provide each executive with internal and external
feedback so they gain greater perspectives on their
leadership style.
Outcomes The expected outcomes of the coaching initiative are:
1. Ninety executives (ten in the pilot) will have each received
¬ve months of coaching.
2. Participants will have learned how to be more effective
3. Participants will have embraced the leadership competency
model as their guide for leading people.

4. Decide how to demonstrate the contribution that coaching
makes on performance apart from other potential in¬‚uencing
factors (e.g., isolating the effects)
5. Describe expected areas of performance improvement

Jacqui was getting ¬dgety as Michael took her systematically
though each of these ¬ve practices based on the document she
shared with him. He positioned his critique as a requirement for the
evaluation and also a way to better sell full deployment of the ini-
tiative to the board. “Let™s talk their language” Michael intoned.
180 Coaching That Counts

Link Coaching to Achieving Business Goals

In all of the material Jacqui prepared to position and launch coach-
ing, there was nary a word about how coaching would advance
business objectives. Coaching objectives pointed to developmental
experiences that would enable executives to gain a “greater perspec-
tive.” There are a whole host of experiences and perspectives to gain
that have nothing to do with achieving business goals. Just because
an executive develops in some way does not mean that his or her
leadership style becomes more effective. Gaining a new perspective
and acting on this new perspective to improve the business are two
different things.
The third objective related to how coaching would incorporate the
leadership competency model.Althoughintegrationof development-
related initiatives is appropriate, even necessary, it is rarely suf¬cient
to sustain or justify the investment in coaching. Linking coaching
to competencies, which are linked to other developmental processes,
is critical to ensure that all activities are appropriately integrated.
However, integration by itself does not guarantee that these activities
will deliver strategic value. Only by linking coaching to achieving
business goals can the promise of strategic value be realized.

Set Coaching Objectives That Include the Application of
Coaching to the Workplace

Learning is one thing, but applying learning to the workplace is
another. In the case of OptiCom, the coaching objectives were
directed to “gaining perspectives,” which says nothing about apply-
ing these new perspectives in a meaningful way in the workplace.
The stated outcome for the coaching of “learning how to be a more
effective leader” says nothing about applying this learning to the
workplace. Setting these objectives is not trivial; and as we will see
later in this chapter, these objectives guide the design of the entire
initiative. A coaching initiative focused on application of learning
to the workplace, for example, may set expectations for both
Developing an Evaluation Strategy 181

participants and coaches of realizing tangible application of learn-
ing from the coaching conversations to the workplace. HR managers
may, halfway through the coaching process, talk privately with the
executives about their experiences in applying new leadership
behaviors in their work settings. Midcourse follow-up sessions can
be conducted in which executives discuss what they are doing dif-
ferently as a result of their coaching and share success stories. These
open forums provide recognition to those who are experiencing
success and encourage others to take the plunge and apply their

Develop Evaluation Objectives That Directly Tie to
Coaching Objectives

One of the ¬rst questions business leaders ask when reviewing
objectives for a coaching initiative is: “How will we know if you have
achieved these objectives?” The ¬rst step in answering this question
is to develop evaluation objectives that ¬‚ow from the initiative
objectives. For example, when coaching objectives specify how the
coaching will be applied in the organization, then evaluation objec-
tives must address the application of coaching. If business leaders
expect the evaluation to determine monetary bene¬ts, then the ini-
tiative objectives should be calibrated accordingly. The danger arises
when the coaching initiative sets its sights too low (e.g., leaders
gaining new knowledge”but not necessarily applying the knowl-
edge) for evaluation to meet the business leaders™ expectation of
value. This is precisely what happened with OptiCom: Jacqui posi-
tioned coaching as a learning initiative, whereas the advisory board
was looking for tangible business impact. Jacqui™s learning objectives
were met, but a large gulf existed between the learning objectives
and the advisory board™s expectation for business impact. As the
evaluator, Michael performed a valuable service for Jacqui by high-
lighting this discrepancy and quickly moving to a solution. Later in
this chapter, we will delve into this issue in more detail and review
the ¬ve levels of evaluating coaching.
182 Coaching That Counts

Decide How to Isolate the Effects of Coaching on Performance
from Other Potential In¬‚uencing Factors

Isolating the effects of coaching on performance from other poten-
tial in¬‚uencing factors is the heart of the evaluation strategy. Failing
to credibly isolate the effects will doom the evaluation. What do we
mean when we say “isolating the effects?” We mean that we have
identi¬ed monetary bene¬ts that we can directly attribute to the
effects coaching had on the performance of those being coached. In
other words, coaching led to behavior changes, these behavior
changes had an impact on business performance, and this impact
was translated to monetary bene¬ts.
Generally speaking, the earlier the evaluation is planned, the more
options are opened up to isolate the effects of coaching. There
are three main methods to isolate the effects: (1) conducting a
pre/postanalysis of performance, (2) using comparison (control)
groups, and (3) using expert estimation.1 Isolating the effects is
strengthened when all three of these methods are used. A later
section in this chapter delves more deeply into the issue of isolation;
however, suf¬ce it to say at this point that an effective evaluation
strategy works out all of the details of isolation before coaching is
formally evaluated. The deployment of coaching can often be
designed to take advantage of natural comparison groups and col-
lecting pre/postdata. If, for example, coaching is to be deployed
across several sales regions, the deployment can be staged so that the
performance of the ¬rst regional sales managers to be coached
can be compared with those regional sales managers who receive
coaching later.

Describe Expected Areas of Performance Improvement

When coaching is treated as a strategic initiative, the outcomes of
coaching are expected to impact business results. Coaching becomes
an investment with an expected return on this investment. An
Anderson (2003); Campbell and Stanley (1963); Phillips (1997).
Developing an Evaluation Strategy 183

important aspect of this return is monetary in nature. A key con-
tribution of the evaluation strategy is to speci¬cally show how
coaching will be expected to impact organization performance. By
presenting expectations for performance improvement in the eval-
uation strategy, it becomes clear to everyone involved in the coach-
ing initiative what outcomes are expected. Sponsors of coaching also
gain early buy-in to coaching and understand better what to expect
from it. The original coaching proposal at OptiCom was devoid of
these considerations. Performance improvement was not even on
Jacqui™s radar screen. It™s no wonder, then, that the sponsors and
leaders of the coaching initiative were left scratching their heads
about what business value was gained from the coaching pilot”and
what future gains would come from full deployment.

Developing an Evaluation Strategy at OptiCom

With these ¬ve practices ¬rmly in mind, let™s revisit OptiCom and
see how they developed a winning evaluation strategy for coaching,
and along the way, put the full deployment of coaching on much
stronger footing. The ¬rst order of business was to respond to the
advisory board™s request to evaluate the business impact of the pilot.
Given how the pilot was positioned (vis à vis the ¬ve practices) and
the fact that only 10 participants were being coached, Jacqui decided
to take a risk and push back on the board™s request to evaluate
the pilot.
Jacqui arranged a meeting with the board™s leader and shared her
concerns about the evaluation. Then she asked the leader the ques-
tion that turned the tide of the conversation: What are your busi-
ness issues, and how can coaching help? The advisory board leader
was the executive VP of the point-of-sale business unit (BU). They
were planning a major foray into the consumer electronics market.
He said that what kept him up at night was that “we couldn™t make
the mistakes of the past and keep hiding in our own silos.” He went
on to explain that he was concerned that his direct reports”each
a VP of a division”were not collaborating quickly enough or
184 Coaching That Counts

Table 11.2 Evaluation Strategy for Full Deployment of Coaching at OptiCom:
Example of One Business Unit

Business Goal: Point-of-Sale Business Unit
Penetrate the consumer electronics market for point-of-sale optical scanners
Coaching Initiative Objectives Evaluation Objectives
Business Unit leaders effectively Increased collaboration among
collaborate across functions to leaders as a result of coaching
develop market penetration plan.

Leaders quickly engage their respective Increased productivity of leader™s teams
teams to implement penetration plan.
Isolating the Effects of Coaching
Expert estimation of impact resulting from coaching by the clients; estimations
discounted by error factor.
Expected Areas of Improvement
More effective planning Faster revenue stream
Higher leader productivity Increased customer satisfaction
Higher team productivity Reduced market penetration cost

effectively enough to penetrate the new market. Moreover, he said,
several of the VPs seemed slow to engage their respective divisional
leadership teams on achieving project goals. Jacqui replied by saying
that full deployment of the coaching initiative could successfully
address these issues. They agreed that the focus of the pilot evalua-
tion would be limited to lessons learned and point out ways to
maximize the success of full deployment. Jacqui had her work cut
out for her, and she turned to Michael to develop the evaluation
A good evaluation strategy is really a good business strategy.
Going through the discipline of developing the evaluation strategy
often brings added clarity to accomplishing the business strategy.
Evaluation represents the ultimate “so what?” question. Implicit
within this question is having business and learning leaders being
held accountable for results. Table 11.2 summarizes the fruits of
Jacqui and Michael™s labors to develop an evaluation strategy that
responded to the business leaders™ issues. This document chronicles
Developing an Evaluation Strategy 185

the journey they took to hardwire the coaching initiative into the
business. Let™s do a quick sanity check of this document in terms of
the ¬ve practices, and then we™ll explore some critical issues that the
OptiCom story raised regarding evaluation strategies.

Sanity Check of the Evaluation Strategy for Full Deployment
of Coaching

Was coaching linked to achieving business goals? Yes. When
Jacqui shifted the conversation with the BU leader from talking
about coaching to talking about the business, she opened the
door for coaching to contribute to the business. She shifted the
leader™s mindset from thinking about coaching as just a cost to
creating coaching that counts. The BU was planning to pene-
trate a new market, and the BU leader felt that the behavior of
the leaders would have to change in order for the BU to be suc-
cessful. Coaching was positioned as a key enabler for the divi-
sional VPs to develop more collaborative behavior and increase
team productivity. Coaching is now on the critical path to busi-
ness success.
One hot-button issue for many coaches is having company
groups, such as HR, or company people, such as Jacqui, impose
restrictions on the coaching relationship. Many coaches bristle
at the thought of having someone tell them what the coaching
conversations should be about. On the other hand, coaching as
a business initiative must show value to the business as well as
to the person being coached. The good news is that these two
areas of value”the person and the organization”are not
mutually exclusive. In fact, these two areas of value go hand in
hand. In the case of OptiCom, the two objectives were set for
the coaching initiative, not for the coaching relationship. Will
each coaching relationship deal with these two issues? Clearly,
yes. Will the coaching relationships deal with other issues? Yes,
and it™s likely that these two issues will serve as jump-off points
to address more root cause issues unique to each client. For
186 Coaching That Counts

example, one coaching client at OptiCom might focus his
coaching work on ¬nding a stronger personal focus (Quadrant
1), and expanding his ability to engage his team (Quadrant 2)
in order to lay the path for capitalizing on synergies between
his division and others (Quadrant 3) and in the process create
a more integrated approach for the overall initiative (Quadrant
4). While another client might work on keeping his cool
(Quadrant 1), and successfully conducting emotionally
charged conversations (Quadrant 2) enabling him to lead his
team to deliver an essential element for the new market entry
(Quadrant 3).
Did the evaluation objectives tie directly to the coaching objec-
tives? Yes. The two evaluation objectives”increased collabora-
tion and increased team productivity”relate directly to the
coaching objectives. Deciding which evaluation objectives to
include in the evaluation strategy de¬nes the scope of this strat-
egy: what will be measured and what will not be measured. An
effective evaluation strategy focuses on those few areas that are
the most salient. Many important aspects of the value the
coaching initiative provides to the business are left out. For
example, employee engagement and customer satisfaction are
clearly potential outcomes of the coaching initiative and may
in fact be the most important outcomes. According to the eval-
uation strategy, however, these outcomes, while important, will
be viewed as intangible bene¬ts. Later on in this chapter, we
look at valuing intangible bene¬ts in more detail. Suf¬ce it to
say at this point that an evaluation strategy re¬‚ects choices.
Choose what areas to evaluate based on the coaching initiative
Did the coaching objectives include application of coaching? Yes.
Check out the verbs: collaborate, develop market penetration
plan, engage their respective teams, and implement penetration
plan. These are all observable, actionable items that can be
measured. Taking these actions can reasonably lead to positive
impacts in the workplace.
Developing an Evaluation Strategy 187

Did the evaluation plan show how to isolate the effects of coach-
ing? Yes. Many potential factors will in¬‚uence how well the
leaders collaborate with one another. The coaching initiative is
but one of these factors. The challenge is how to isolate the
effects of coaching on performance from these other potential
in¬‚uencing factors. Jacqui and Michael decided that the best
way to meet this challenge was to rely on the ability of the
leaders to estimate the impact coaching would have on the
business. Because no estimation is perfect, the error of this esti-
mation would also be taken into account. Third-party valida-
tion would also be conducted when appropriate. Later on in
this chapter, we delve into the issue of estimation and isolation
in more detail.
Were areas of performance improvement described? Yes. Six
potential areas of performance improvement were identi¬ed.
Two of these areas (i.e., planning and customer satisfaction) will
likely be cited later as intangible bene¬ts of the coaching. Leader
and team productivity will be expressed as monetary bene¬ts.
The other two areas (i.e., revenue and cost) may be converted
to monetary bene¬ts or left as intangible bene¬ts. Some wiggle
room is left here about how best to decide on which areas to
convert to monetary bene¬ts. For example, if the market pene-
tration plan is executed ahead of schedule, then revenue will
accrue more quickly. The margins of this incremental revenue
may be converted to monetary bene¬ts. If this plan is executed
below budget, then cost bene¬ts may be identi¬ed as well.

The Building Blocks of Evaluation Strategies

The OptiCom story taught us about how to craft a winning evalu-
ation strategy. Three major issues emerged as this strategy was devel-
oped that we will now explore in more detail:

1. The ingredients of a good evaluation objective
2. The ¬ve levels of evaluating coaching
188 Coaching That Counts

3. How to isolate the effects of coaching on performance from
other potential in¬‚uencing factors

The Ingredients of a Good Evaluation Objective

Given the key role that the evaluation objectives play in setting the
tone and scope for the evaluation strategy, it is important to examine
what makes a good objective. A good evaluation objective must
address three elements: attribution, direction, and relevance.2

Attribution. The evaluation objective must relate to changes
that can be brought about by the coaching. In other words, we
evaluate that which changed as a result of the coaching. We can
attribute the changes to the coaching. For example, the ob-
jective: “Increased collaboration among leaders” speci¬cally
includes the attribution of “resulting from coaching.”
Direction. The evaluation objective states what will increase
(sales) or decrease (costs). If speci¬c targets are set, then
include these targets in the objective as well. For example, the
objective just cited includes the word increased, which shows
Relevance. The objective must relate to a strategic business goal.
The evaluation objective draws a clear line of sight with the
business goal, as illustrated in Table 11.2. In this example,
increased collaboration among leaders will lead to a more effec-
tive market plan (initiative objective) and ultimately to deeper
market penetration (business goal).

The set of evaluation objectives does not need to be comprehen-
sive. That is, not everything should be measured. Rather, focus these
objectives on the most salient outcomes with the greatest likelihood
of producing monetary bene¬ts. In the OptiCom example, the eval-
uation objectives focused on collaboration and teamwork. Left out
were areas such as customer satisfaction. Achieving high levels of

Anderson (2003).
Developing an Evaluation Strategy 189

customer satisfaction may be the greatest, albeit intangible, bene¬t
of all. It was left out in part because it is dif¬cult to express in strictly
monetary terms. Following this example, let™s say that collaboration
and team productivity did not generate the expected monetary ben-
e¬ts. Then it is possible to go back to some of the other potential
outcomes, such as a faster revenue stream, and evaluate these out-
comes and convert them to monetary terms. This refers again to
the ¬‚exibility and judgment required in documenting monetary
bene¬ts. Additional bene¬t areas can be explored until a suf¬cient
quantity of monetary bene¬ts has been documented.

The Five Levels of Evaluating Coaching

During the course of the OptiCom story, we learned that coaching
objectives should include the application of coaching in the work-
place. We want our leaders to learn from the coaching and gain
insights into their behavior; however, we also want them to apply
these insights to their workplace. As Table 11.3 shows, learning and
application are but two of a total of ¬ve formal evaluation levels.
This leveling scheme has been in operation in training and devel-
opment for more than 30 years and is a natural ¬t for evaluating
Level 1 looks at the initial reaction of the coaching client to the
¬rst two or three coaching sessions. Speci¬c areas to look at include
the following:

How well the foundation for the coaching relationship was set
How much rapport has been established
How clear the intentions for the coaching initiative were
How effectively the coach and client agreed on behavioral
How effective coaching is being delivered (e.g., via telephone
or in-person), session length, and frequency


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