While the coachee is ultimately the one choosing their goals and action steps, whether they achieve what they set out to do is one way they evaluate the value of coaching. Alternatively, some consider intangible benefits such as whether they feel they are progressing and are happy with the coaching as their measure of the coaching ROI.
For example, an individual coachee may enter the coaching relationship with the goal of ‘being happy’. As a result of their coaching experience, the coachee may discover that their ‘happiness’ is in fact tied to leaving their current full-time job. The coachee may choose to start a lunch wagon serving up healthy, organic meals to their once former colleagues. While the coachee may have had no intention or foretelling of such a drastic life-change, they may in fact come away from the coaching relationship entirely satisfied. How they measure it may include the intangibles such as happiness, balance, and satisfaction plus the tangibles such as income per hour worked. For the individual coachee in this example their ROI for the coaching is high.
Companies are perceived as focused on the bottom line impact of the coaching relationship. The reduced cost of turnover through coaching, the increase in productivity measures, or actual sales numbers are easily identified impacts. Triad Performance Technologies studied the ROI of sales coaching based on actual numbers and cited a 1000% ROI. Many coaching ROI studies also have companies assign dollar values to the impact of soft skills enhanced through coaching. Commonly cited studies for this include Manchester Inc. and MetrixGlobal.
Recently there have been a number of articles on how a focus on measuring the bottom line impact of coaching may actually limit the benefits. The key is to ensure there is an awareness of both qualitative (intangible) and quantitative (tangible) benefits and then discuss how important it is to invest in measuring. It may be sponsors or clients require a formal survey and evaluation to measure ROI or they may choose to measure informally through periodic check-ins.
It makes sense for the coachee, sponsor, and coach to talk through reasons for coaching and measures of success from coaching.