What’s the effect of coaching in companies?
What a tricky question!
But researchers attempt to answer it from time to time. N2growth, a leading venture growth consultancy, released in 2006 the results of a study quantifying the business impact of executive coaching. The study included 100 executives – mostly from Fortune 1000 companies – who received coaching.
The coaching delivered an average return on investment of 5.7 times the initial investment in a typical executive coaching assignment according to executives who estimated the monetary value of the results achieved through coaching.
The study included data on executive behaviour change, organizational improvements achieved, and the return on investment (ROI). Participating companies realised improvements in
- Productivity (reported by 53% of the executives who estimated the monetary value of the results)
- Quality (48%)
- Organizational strength (48%)
- Customer service (39%)
- Reducing customer complaints (34%)
- Retaining executives who received coaching (32%)
- Cost reductions (23%)
- Bottom-line profitability (22%)
Other benefits to executives who received coaching were
- Improved working relationships with direct reports (reported by 77% of executives)
- Improved working relationships with immediate supervisors (71%)
- Improved teamwork (67%)
- Improved working relationships with peers (63%)
- Increased job satisfaction (61%)
- Reduction of conflict (52%)
- Increased organizational commitment (44%)
- Improved working relationships with clients (37%)
An excellent thing then…
However – as Einstein had written on his wall – “Not everything that counts can be counted; not everything that can be counted counts.”
A coaching culture is not always a straightforward or comfortable environment – it requires a courageous approach, and a certain amount of letting go. Leaders sometimes talk about a coaching climate, magnetic leadership and empowerment – and then use command and control to impose a new coaching paradigm – which doesn’t exactly align with the spirit of coaching!
Here’s a little domestic story:
I used to walk my son to school when he was very young. His favourite day in the summer was Tuesday – swimming day – when the whole class would troop down to the local leisure centre. Most early mornings I would shout up to him from the kitchen, “Remember your swimming things!” Sometimes I forgot to remind him and he forgot too. On those days after depositing him at school I would rush home for the forgotten items and deliver them to the school.
That is – until I went back to work. One Tuesday we reached school and he suddenly remembered that it was swimming day. But that day I had to tell him that I was off to work and did not have the time to go home for the swimming stuff. Tears and pleas were in vain. There was no swimming for him that day. He was bitterly disappointed.
The result? From that day on, he always remembered his swimming things on a Tuesday – for himself. It was an important bit of growing into responsibility for him.
For me it was a revelation: that bringing people into full responsibility is not always about controlling or leading or teaching – sometimes it’s even about letting go.
Now translate that to a business context in which I am the team leader and my son is the team member. At a certain point I hand over responsibility for something – which means I let it go and allow the person to grow. If I actually let go – and here’s the rub – mistakes may happen: letting go means giving up control over results. But the approach allows the team member to take charge and in doing so they step into greater capability and sense of responsibility – not only for now but for life.
Of course, coaching is not all about letting go. The coach needs a whole tool bag of different tools. But it is about the coachee being in charge of their life and the coach believing the coachee to be creative, resourceful, whole and extraordinary – and to be trusted.
Much ‘strong’ leadership keeps people small.
“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and
you help them become what they are capable of”
Joseph Wolfgang Von Goethe
Coaching is about encouraging people to step into their greatness – what a gift to the organisation – and yes to the ROI too …
Coaching has many different tools for helping people as you walk beside them on their journey. Learning to be an excellent coach will help your organisation and is also a great development tool for yourself. You learn what you teach; you teach what you learn.