The challenges of measuring digital coaching’s impact
While coaching has been proven to increase companies’ profitability, a recent study conducted by the International Coaching Federation concluded that accurately measuring the true impact of coaching is the most significant challenge facing the industry today. As such, it is important to keep in mind some of the potential pitfalls when assessing how digital coaching can lead to organizational improvement.
One of the most important challenges is that quantifiable metrics alone are not sufficient when measuring organizational improvement. Many professionals will be familiar with the term ROI (Return on Investment). ROIs have, over recent years, played an increasingly important role in analyzing business strategy. While this approach is undoubtedly successful in most organizational areas, it nevertheless faces challenges when applied to the impact of digital coaching. How, for example, might we measure the impact of enhanced company-wide communication skills? Or cultivating an excellent company culture? The simple truth is that when it comes to measuring the success of digital coaching, relying solely on quantifiable, short-term increases in profitability fails to take into account the full picture.
Equally, it must be said that qualitative data also offers an incomplete picture of how digital coaching can help companies improve. Although qualitative data, such as surveys and self-assessments, can provide more insightful reflections into an individual’s personal development during the coaching process, qualitative data can be fraught with inaccuracies during the process of self-reflection. To put it simply, coachees can often over or underestimate the progress they’ve achieved through coaching.
Thus, it's clear that neither quantitative nor qualitative analysis in isolation can truly determine the success of digital coaching. So, what can?
Measuring the impact of digital coaching
As you may have guessed, an effective way of measuring the success of digital coaching is a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis. Of course, it must be said that coaching is most effective when tailored towards the specific needs of organizations, teams, and individual coachees; as such, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to quantifying success. Nevertheless, these are some of the fundamental strategies to consider when measuring the success of digital coaching.
1. Specify clear areas for individual improvement
As individuals, it’s often easier to recognize the soft skills we could benefit from developing such as communication, teamwork, and adaptability. Success in digital coaching, however, relies on identifying more personalized aims. For example, which teams could work more effectively together? To what goal? What might day-to-day improvement between teams look like? An excellent coach will check in with you on questions such as these to ensure that all stakeholders’ expectations and aims are aligned and, in doing so, ensure measurable results are achieved.
2. Instead of ROI, start thinking ROE
At Sharpist, we empower companies through a more holistic approach to the evaluation of coaching. Recognizing that neither quantitative nor qualitative metrics alone are enough to measure company-wide progress, we prefer to consider the Return on Expectations (or ROE). In doing so, our method ensures that our coaching goals are clearly defined, the coach and coachees’ expectations are aligned and the most important organizational aims of coaching are met. For a fuller breakdown of how ROE can produce measurable, company-wide improvements in your organization, download our free whitepaper on the topic here.
Coaching has an impact in a broad range of areas but its measurability is not always clear. Read our guide to learn how to measure the impact of coaching in your organization.
3. Identify what help is needed and where
On an organizational level, it’s important to keep in mind a few fundamental questions when measuring the impact of digital coaching. According to a recent study published in the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations, these are: what skills are required of individuals to execute a business strategy? Which individuals need these skills the most? And, how can coaching assist in building those critical skills? As well as adopting a holistic approach at Sharpist, we think it is vital to empower employees through tailor-made goals to cultivate organizational improvement.
4. Balance quantitative and qualitative data
In digital coaching, different stakeholders offer definitions of success. The coachee will want to experience tangible growth on personal and professional levels. Meanwhile, HR Managers and organizations will undoubtedly want to retain their top talent and see quantifiable improvements in performance. As such, these interests must all be recognized in any holistic measurements of coaching’s success. In order to achieve quantifiable results on an organizational level, data-driven coaching through progress monitoring and satisfaction ratings is an invaluable tool and an important benefit of digital coaching over face-to-face. Equally, aligning coachee expectations through qualitative methods such as personalized feedback will ensure that employees feel engaged and listened to.
To conclude, although there is no universal way of measuring the impact of digital coaching, a holistic approach and a sharp, strategic view of desired outcomes can ensure maximum return on expectations when evaluating its success at the end.