This article focuses on the ROI (Return On Investment) of coaching for the coachee, his manager and ultimately, the company. We shall explore the benefits of coaching by means of data collected from various studies, the calculation of returns on investment, the elements that have an impact on such a calculation, as well as the actions that the coach can implement to maximize the results of his coaching.
A True Performance Lever for Companies and Organizations
Coaching encourages the development of accountability, the search for concrete solutions, individual creativity, and dexterity. Coaching is a true and real source of company development. It also contributes to well-being at work by finding solutions for every situation, by using available resources, by making it possible to verify the comfort and safety conditions pertaining to each proposed action.
This is perfectly demonstrated by the Human Capital Industry’s recent study: in companies with a strong coaching culture:
- 2 out of 3 employees consider themselves highly engaged (as opposed to 1 out of 2 in the remainder of the sample) – see figure 3 below
- 51% of these companies show above the average earnings in their area of activity (as opposed to only 38% in the remainder of the sample) – see figure 4 below
 Source: HCI (Human Capital Industry) and International Coach Federation 2016 study conducted on a sample of over 600 companies
Consequently, the main indicators of coaching impact (figure 5) on companies are:
- Improved teamwork
- Higher employee engagement
- Enhanced productivity
- Appeased personal and social relationships
For Managers: Solutions Adapted to New Forms of Management
Coaching skills are a suitable answer to the new forms of management required by the evolution of organizations. To managerial practices, coaching provides listening skills, a cooperative work environment, improved sense of responsibility, enhanced creativity and appreciation of emotional intelligence.
According to a study published in 2016 by the International Coach Federation, coaching has a positive impact on managers: self-confidence and relationships.
 Source: International Coach Federation Global Coaching Study commissioned to PWC. 15380 answers from 137 countries
Calculating ROI (Return on Investment) in Coaching
ROI is typically calculated on the basis of the equation: ROI = Coaching benefits/cost of coaching. To estimate benefits, several factors must be taken into account:
Easily quantifiable factors
- Increased sales
- More prospects
- Greater number of new accounts
- Reduced costs
- Reduced staff turnover
- Reduced absenteeism
- Shorter time-to-market
- Improved productivity
- Decrease in customer/employee complaints
Quantifiable factors based on company environment, customer surveys
- Decrease in conflicts
- Improved teamwork
- More productive meetings
- Improved employee morale
- Improved employee development
- Better customer service
- Improved job satisfaction
- Improved work/ life balance
 Source: WJM Associates newsletter, October 2004
Factors that Have an Impact on the Success of Coaching
The success of coaching depends not only on the coach’s competence, but also on other company-specific factors. We have grouped them into three wide-ranging categories, pointing out for each the actions that the coach can take to properly fulfill his mission.
1) The system in place
a. The line manager
The coachee’s N+1 ensures the long-term impact of coaching. He takes part in the first tripartite meeting with the coach and the client in order to define the coaching’s objectives, as well as the performance indicators reflected in the coachee’s visible behavior. To that end the coach has an important pedagogical role vis-à-vis the line manager in order to guide him towards the definition of motivating objectives, but also to help him adopt a listening and supportive attitude during the meeting.
Throughout the coaching, the line manager also plays a role in helping the coachee to adopt new types of behavior by monitoring his progress and by encouraging him with a constant feedback. The coach can contribute to the attainment of this goal by guiding the manager and encouraging him to provide feedback.
Although the coach plays the main part in the coaching process, he must also feel free to talk to N + 1 whenever necessary to assist him in the leader-coach role with which the manager is not necessarily familiar. The coachee must, of course, agree to the coach being in contact with the manager and the coach/manager connection should always adhere to coaching’s ethical code, i.e. confidentiality of coaching exchanges. These exchanges are invaluable in promoting the N+1 role in the coaching process.
b. Corporate culture
An important and helpful factor in the coaching process is corporate culture. In certain companies, the “soft” aspects of management are more highly valued than in others. There again it is up to the coach to show good teaching skills by involving Human Resources in the coaching process. He can, for instance, suggest that the HR manager attend the tripartite meetings with the line manager and/or that he assess with the coachee the various stages of his progress in the coaching process.
Another way for the coach to share coaching culture is to define a coaching path according to the proper rules by scheduling a meeting with the N+1 and the HR managers at the beginning of the coaching process in order to set objectives, drawing up a formal contract specifying the coaching objectives plus midway and final meetings.
A professional coach will strongly contribute to creating a climate of trust vis-à-vis coaching and to spreading coaching culture throughout the company.
c. The coachee’s environment
A third factor endogenous to companies is the support provided by the team to the coachee. Smooth peer relationships within a team allow the creation of an atmosphere that encourages learning through feedback culture (with incentives for improvement), encouragement when mistakes occur and the search for solutions, mutual assistance among team members. When the atmosphere is fraught with mutual mistrust, the coachee will focus his energy on self-protection rather than on risk-taking, the learning of new skills, the adoption of new kinds of behavior.
In the course of a program of individual coaching for a client who had to cope with a difficult team environment, we were relieved to learn that they had planned to start simultaneously a team coaching program. In fact, individual and team coachings are mutually reinforcing, especially when there are misunderstandings within the team. When the coach notices that the atmosphere within the team is not helpful, he can contact Human Resources to recommend this kind of collective action.
2) The coach’s capabilities
a. Certification levels
According to a study published by the International Coach Federation, companies rate the coach’s certification level: 72% of managers who answered the survey expect the coach to be certified.
1] Source: International Coach Federation Global Coaching Study commissioned to PWC. 15380 answers from 137 countries
b. The coaching program
Another factor besides certification which strongly influences coaching results is the coach’s ability to choose a coaching program which will achieve optimum results.
For this purpose, the coach needs to master different skills:
- Determining and understanding his client’s needs: his learning methods, his way of collecting information, his emotional openness, the pace of his progress … A good coach must constantly adapt to his client and not vice versa. At present, we are working on individual coaching for an executive team. Even though collective issues converge and certain individual issues are similar, we deal with each of them in different ways depending on the person concerned. A person may need coaching that delves deep inside him/her while another one may need help in improving his/her communication skills; yet another one, also in need of coaching in communication, will benefit from to the use of simulations rather than videos and again someone else will improve his learning skills thanks to a physical approach and so forth. His knowledge and expertise in different coaching methods, which will enable him/her to choose the method best suited to his client.
- His knowledge of “corporate games” to understand the different kinds of environment surrounding the client in order to choose the approach best suited to that particular environment. This knowledge is also useful in providing feedback to the client.
- The coach’s ability to implement an action plan which “makes sense” to the client, is adapted to his working environment and is accepted as feasible by the client. A coaching session is useless when the action plan is so ambitious that it can only meet with failure. There again, the coach’s expertise plays an important role, since it will lead him to understand that it is better to make the client feel valued because of his success, no matter how small, rather than making him feel guilty because of the implementation of a useless and counterproductive action plan.
3) The coachee’s qualities
Yes! The coachee also has some responsibilities. We have always told our clients that, as coaches, we are 100% responsible for the result…but so are our clients!
The coachee must be the driving force behind his learning process, he must want to question himself so as to look at the world through a different lens and consequently act differently. Sometimes companies entrust us with so-called “hopeless cases” who are forced to accept the coaching. In such cases, our procedure is telling the company that we cannot take on the coaching assignment unless the coachee is convinced of its usefulness. When we interview the coachee, we make clear that coaching is a free choice which he can either accept or refuse and which we by no means intend to “sell” at all costs. If, during the course of the coaching, the client cancels his appointments, is always late, does not make any progress, we reiterate the possibility of a choice, and the client’s right to suspend the coaching process if he thinks that it is leading nowhere.
To sum up, coaching is a real performance and engagement lever within companies.
When the coaching process is drawn within an optimal framework, it can hasten individual and/or team development and make the most of their potential. The spread of coaching culture within a company has many benefits: it encourages continuous feedback, it enhances the value of each individual in his specific position. It also allows the development of trust, improves employee engagement and consequently the atmosphere at the working place. All these factors will contribute to attaining a lasting human and financial performance.
Article written jointly with Catherine Tanneau
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