Professional coaching: an obligation of means or of results?
Rémi Zunino
Rémi Zunino

Professional coaching: an obligation of means or of results?

"It is impossible to measure the results of coaching." Many have heard this phrase before. However, it is the result of a certain ignorance of this profession. Today, Valérie Rocoplan, Founder and General Manager of Talentis, and Executive Coach, answers this essential question: "Does the professional coach have an obligation of means or results?"

What does "obligation of means or results" mean in the context of professional coaching?

As experts in professional coaching, we consider that we have a commitment to our clients. That of reaching the objectives we have defined with them in a very careful manner. It is therefore essential to ask ourselves the question of an obligation of means or of results. It is in the very essence of the profession of professional coach because in the coaching protocol, the way we practice our profession, there is the obligation to establish, before any coaching, a contract of objectives. Whether it is with the coachee, the coached team and/or the organization.

For example, in the case of individual coaching, it is usually a three-party contract. In the case of team coaching, it will be a team contract.

How to set coaching goals?

When creating a coaching contract, we will ask the client: "At the end of this coaching, will you be satisfied if...? How will the coach have helped you progress? How will you measure the team's progress thanks to this coaching?

Therefore, if we talk about objectives, it's because there is a mutual commitment by the parties, the coach and the client, to move towards the success of this objective. It would be a bit strange, in our opinion, to say: "Let's set objectives, let's write them down in the contract, let's even set indicators to measure whether or not these objectives have been reached. And then say: "No, in the end we only had an obligation of means. We did what we could, but it's not our fault if we didn't achieve the objective. It's true that we have a bias that is perhaps a little strong at Talentis, which says: "We are committed to the success of the objectives. I think that's what has made Talentis successful over the years. The fact of "getting wet" with our clients by saying, "Maybe we'll have to calibrate reasonable objectives. Maybe we'll have to break the goals down into pieces to make sure we're moving forward and measuring our progress, but we're committed to goals.

How do you measure the achievement of coaching objectives?

After each coaching session, we send evaluation documents that are reported by the participants, by the coachees, by the managers, but also by the sponsors to measure satisfaction, of course, but especially the achievement of objectives. A culture of results is a culture that measures performance, that measures the achievement of objectives and not just the satisfaction of the coachees.

Let's take a concrete example: taking up a new position. The person being coached, who is going to take (or is in the process of taking) a new management position, will say to himself: "I would like, in a year's time, to succeed in my management position and I would like, thanks to coaching, to reach such and such a level of competence". At this point, the coach will calibrate with his client the outlines of the mission: "What will make you say that your assumption of office is successful?". This will be for example:

"I will have a team aligned around me around our ambition and everyone will know how to articulate this new ambition."

"Everyone will be clear on their goals and autonomy."

"I will have a clear agenda of my strategic priorities for the coming months"...

In any case, every job is very different and what counts is how the person will be able to measure, effectively and in a very concrete way, what he or she has achieved.

For example, for leadership programs, which last on average 6 to 8 months, it is necessary to establish a contract with the client with clear and measurable objectives:

"How has this program helped us develop those skills?"

"How will we measure these skills?"

"Will there be feedback from the participants, but also from their managers on the progress of these people? Will there be 360 feedback?..."

Once these goals and metrics are established, we meet with our clients every month or 6 months to evaluate each initial goal and assess progress along the way.

Is there a shared responsibility between the client and the coach in the achievement or non-achievement of the coaching objectives?

Of course, when we talk about a culture of results in professional coaching, we are talking about co-responsibility. That is to say that we, the professional coach, have 50% of the responsibility, and of course, there is 50% on the side of the coachee, on the side of the team, on the side of the client.

According to Talentis' philosophy, the coach commits to do everything in his power, using the best protocols to, like a sports coach, make his champion win. But we are not all-powerful, we are very clear on the fact that there are shared responsibilities. Having a culture of results means that we will not give up when our champion wants to give up and that we will go to the end of the training and that if the champion does not want to train anymore, it is him who decides not to train. But we will challenge him, we will give feedback, we will remind him of the objective. And then, in the end, we take our share of responsibility for the success of the coaching. What is coaching? What is external? What was put in place that allowed these objectives to be reached?

We are well aware that coaching is not an overpowering position. We are facilitators.

Will the rise of digital coaching platforms push professionals in this sector to be even more precise about measuring the results of the coaching they offer?

The coaching market has evolved tremendously recently, but is now facing a major disruption with the arrival of remote coaching platforms .

These platforms are successful not simply because they connect coachees and coaches in one click, it's not that at all, it's because they provide the company with a lot of data. Not the confidential content of the coaching sessions, which is totally protected, but rather the number of coaching sessions in progress, the number of coaching sessions completed, the progress made by the coachees in relation to their initial objectives? What skills have been developed etc...

Through these platforms, HR managers have access to extremely interesting measurement elements for themselves and their company. Thanks to the reports provided by these platforms, companies can say: "Through coaching, we have progressed by so much on such and such a skill."

So yes, that's the way the story goes. Coaching as well as training are now going to be practices where we have to be able to measure the effectiveness of individual coaching or group coaching protocols.

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