For many coaches, trainers and leadership consultants this question comes up often from their clients. How can we measure or determine what the financial benefit of coaching and training is? Can we prove that a soft skill such as confidence or self-esteem has a Rand value to it? We can visibly see that a person has grown and developed through engaging with a coach, but we have great difficulty quantifying it. Unless we aren’t successful in determining the Return on Investment (ROI) of coaching, it will remain a subjective investment and one many companies won’t want to spend any money on.

Workplace training might have a slight advantage over coaching because we can tangibly measure the development of a practical skill or technical competency. Coaching, however involves growth of behavioural soft skills and falls into a grey area. Soft skill development can be measured but not always in actual financial terms and not without complications. The reason is because not every action has a Rand value linked to it. As an example, a person might have developed confidence and courage to speak up in weekly team meetings and to share their ideas and thoughts. Their participation has immense value to the team members, builds positive work relationships and sparks other inspirational ideas. We can only put a financial value on the contribution if each item has a financial component. So what is the financial value of building positive team relationships? We might be striving to achieve something that doesn’t make sense or add any value. Perhaps it’s time to find different solutions to the ROI conundrum?

The difference between training and coaching

The main difference between training and coaching is that in coaching your coachee (client) is very important and determines the area of growth and development. The coach doesn’t set the client’s agenda, objectives or path – that is entirely up to the client. As a mentor and trainer, the same principle doesn’t apply because the coach is regarded as a subject matter expert who sets the path of learning and development. If this anomaly is resolved, and the coach’s mandate is to grow and develop a person within a set parameter, then those parameters need to be measured. Determining ROI is a grey area although companies and coaches look at it as either black or white; however it cannot be that because there are too many variables that influence and impact on coaching success. We often ignore this fact and are determined to prove the ROI of coaching.

Nevertheless, how successful is the annual financial budget of a company? It represents a target to achieve and serve as a benchmark and at the end of the 12 month period we look to see if we met or exceeded the budget. Either way, we establish reasons why we met, exceeded or failed to meet the target. A bunch of variable factors are listed that support the argument for or against hitting the target.

Coaching is exactly that – a target that we look to achieve and drive forward.

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