HR needs to calculate the return on investment in coaching

Fancy a new career as a coach? Seems like a good option: do the relevant course, brand yourself ‘executive coach’, buy fancy business cards, and wait for the phone to ring with the offer of a lucrative corporate contract.

Organisations spend an average of £83,250 a year on coaching, so there’s plenty of business to go round. Oh, and don’t worry about whether you’re any good, or whether you actually achieve what you were hired to do in the first place, as it’s highly unlikely that anyone will bother to check or ask you to prove your worth.

No, I’m not trying to offend decent members of the coaching profession, who I’m sure produce fabulous results (so don’t start throwing up your hands in horror yet) I’m just drawing a conclusion about the findings of our exclusive survey on coaching in the workplace, which we carried out in conjunction with HR consultancy Chiumento.

Just 13% of the HR professionals who took part in the research say they formally measure the return on their investment (ROI) in coaching. That leaves 67% who can’t be bothered and 20% who don’t know.

Frankly, this is not good enough. Why don’t HR departments make it their job to find out whether they’re getting value for money or not – especially when central HR holds the budget for coaching in the majority of cases? And why does the very mention of ROI have HR managers scuttling for cover, muttering something along the lines of: “Well, ROI on coaching is horribly hard to prove, you know”?

What? So you can’t tell whether an individual’s performance is improving? Whether they are developing skills that will help the organisation move closer to its overall goals? Whether coaching is anything more than an executive perk?

Without agreeing a set of objectives between HR, senior managers and the recipients of coaching – to reach outcomes that tangibly benefit both the organisation and the individual – then you risk wasting a coach-load of money.

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