Can training and coaching effectiveness can be measured at all?


A few questions come to mind:

1. What is your objective? What do you expect to get out of it?

2. How do you define effectiveness?

3. Do you know your precedent, intervening, and antecedent variables? Can you control for them?

4. Do you know which critical, measurable behaviors actually correlate to increased performance? Are you measuring them today? How confident are you in this data?

5. You are measuring performance – compared to what? What is your benchmark? Is it relevant?

6. Do your managers coach today? How do you know what they are measuring – critical behaviors correlated to performance or activity?

7. If you are comparing managers or sales teams, what is the basis for the comparison and what additional variables (geography, customer-mix, product-focus, sales-team mix) might flavor the comparison?

These are some of the reasons why measurement and showing ROI on things like training and coaching can be incredibly difficult.  That said, there are organizations out there who are tackling these challenges.

Here are some of the things they are doing:

  • Establishing a strategic business outcome as a guiding light for the exercise of improving measurement
  • Engaging senior management to align compensation and performance evaluation to the objective and the execution of better measurement
  • Developing a baseline for performance that focuses on critical behaviors, correlated to increased/superior performance
  • Leveraging technology intelligently to simplify, automate and integrate
  • Having a very clear understanding of the data involved and how it will be leveraged to produce insight
  • Reducing the variability, control what you can, simplify the measurement
  • Focusing on cultural adoption and implementation over the long-haul

And finally, they are patient for results, but very impatient with respect to execution of the strategy and plan for change.

Organizations who have mastered this are now into predictive analysis.

An example is an organization that is able to predict which critical behaviors in new hires correlate precisely with things like:

  • Building larger funnels with better qualified opportunities earlier
  • Increased 1st year employee retention
  • Better funnel velocity, earlier
  • Increased customer satisfaction

It might, for instance, boil down to my ability (as a new rep) to identify both the process and all the stakeholders in a capital equipment buying process that correlates to a larger, more valid funnel earlier in my ramp-up. My involvement in training and scores in coaching sessions can be correlated to these lagging indicators of increased performance/success.

Even this ability – identifying the buying process and its stakeholders – comes down to further critical behaviors that can be strategy or skill related. For instance, is the most significant behavior my ability to map the organization, its goals, strategies, etc. or is it more my ability to have productive, customer-focused conversations that support the advancement of their buying process? Maybe it’s both

These are some of the reasons why coaching and measurement can be extremely challenging. Layer on top different geographies, business units, sales teams, relative tenure, different sales roles, etc. and you’ve got a very complex landscape.

That said, there are best practices that can be leveraged to improve measurement of things like training and coaching effectiveness. Also, know that it can be a multi-faceted journey that takes long-term investments and senior leadership commitment to reach the desired goal of an optimized state.

For more information, check out our section on coaching to performance.