Coaches often fret about how they will respond if a prospect or client asks them how they measure the success of their work. They’re always looking in LinkedIn discussion forums for ‘tools’ and ‘techniques’ to help them prove they have had an effect on the client’s ‘bottom line’.
I believe that business clients do not buy coaching (or mentoring, consultancy, training, advice or anything else) for the sake of having coaching (or mentoring…)
I believe that businesses buy the solutions to their problems or, more precisely, they buy the facilitation they need to find out what the real problem is and how to fix it. Sadly, very few really successful businesses are interested in being more successful!
If the business can identify the problem, they ought to be able to identify if and when it has been resolved or at least ameliorated.
If they can’t do either of these things (identify and resolve) then that is itself a problem that has been identified, to which one can ask the question, how will you know when it has been resolved?
Either way, it is the client’s responsibility to
(a) identify the problem
(b) identify how they’ll know it has been fixed
(c) (if they’re interested) how they’ll measure how effective they were at resolving the problem.
Just as it isn’t the coach’s job to resolve the problem, or even to identify it, so I don’t see why a coach needs to identify how their intervention has affected the client’s productivity (assuming that that was one of the desired outcomes, and it often isn’t). Let the client do that. If they can’t, and it’s important to them, they have a problem!
So, when asked “how do you measure the effectiveness of your intervention?”, I invariably reply “how would you like me to measure it?”
Actually, I have never been asked this by a prospect or a client (which is a shame, because it is a good line!).
I think it is a myth that clients are really bothered about this. They may say they are to start with, but that’s because they don’t really know what’s going on or why they might benefit from a coach. As coaches we need to be careful not to project any insecurity we might have onto prospects.