Whether public or privately held, most buying agents (managers and leaders) ask about Return on Investment (ROI). You need to. Some coaches duck the question by stating that coaching is a “soft skill” that cannot be measured. We disagree. ROI can be measured and must be measured.
Every client uses metrics to define their success. Typically these metrics are connected to key practices for that group. Here are two examples.
Customer Sample A:
The situation: We recently worked with a Fortune 500 company that had experienced explosive growth in 2007. The executive sponsor stated, “In 2007 we got big. In 2008-2009 we need to get good.” They identified several concerns that may be familiar to your company, or to other global companies: Constant and rapid change as a result of mergers and acquisitions. Rapid leadership promotion and uneven leader development. Increasing business demands for data transparency. Globalization requiring more virtual teams and technological strain. Need for multi-generational assimilation. Increasing diversity in work force.
The solution: 18 months of executive coaching with the top 20 leaders across business and functional lines, semi-annual leadership summits, ongoing assessments of key metrics. This client required measures of ROI, including 1) structured survey metrics, 2) structured feedback surveys, 3) ongoing assessments, 4) qualitative interviews, 5) dashboard metrics against their strategic plan, 6) impact stories toward their clear behavioral objectives (Return on Objectives, ROO).
The results: Were profound. All the key leaders were retained. Despite a major re-assignment, all 20 clients stated that executive coaching was “worth continuing.” Surveys after 6 months and 12 months found impressive results: “Others have commented on my improved effectiveness as a leader” jumped from 29% after 6 months of coaching to 42% after 12 months of coaching. “I am a more effective leader” jumped from 57% after 6 months of coaching to 79% after 12 months of coaching. “Personal productivity” jumped from 58% after 6 months of coaching to 79% after 12 months of coaching.
Customer Sample B:
The situation: We recently worked with a functional line that had been targeted as innovative, but inconsistent. Key processes were reported differently from different locations, and when data needed to be evaluated there were not trustworthy data sources. This Fortune 500 company was evolving from a command-and-control hierarchical model (where information was provided on a “need to know basis”) to a matrixed trust-and track model that required more transparent data sharing.
The Solution: 12 months of executive coaching for 14 of the most important leaders, from the executive leader down to 3 recently hired “Emerging Leaders.” That level of executive sponsorship for a vertical work group was a critical factor in their engagement levels.
The Results: All key leaders have been retained, despite significant downsizing in their group. 4 of the 14 have been re-assigned new roles. 3 of the 14 have been promoted. All have worked with the same executive coach to guarantee consistent focus on Key initiatives, such as productivity outcomes, behavior outcomesand work life balance. Major initiatives have driven data sharing across business and functional lines.
There are many excellent books on the subject of ROI.
I recommend Return on Investments in Training and Performance Improvement Programs by Jack Phillips (1997) for examples of data driven metrics within your company. Chapter 7, on Calculating the Return, includes some useful formulas.
Phillips and his wife, Patricia, followed up with Show me the Money, How to determine ROI in People, Projects and Programs (2007) which focuses on measuring 6 types of value. That statement summarizes a decade of shifting metrics from measuring services to measuring value. In fact, the ROI Institute is a good resource for any business leader looking for a primer on ROI. They offer training throughout the country. Details are at www.roiinstitute.net. When one of my clients requested a program in ROI, they sent me several books, at no cost, and an academic colleague in organizational development assures me that they have a sound reputation.
Another, newer resource is from my friend John Mattox, PhD, who recently published Learning Analytics; Measurement innovations to support employee development (2016). My testimonial is on the back cover. This book includes excellent examples from his work at the Conference Executive Board.
So, now that you know it can be done, how are you measuring your ROI?