We can and must measure in coaching and leadership development. It’s critical for our credibility as coaches, trainers and consultants. And, it’s critical for our industry as a whole.


We started to get really curious about measurement in leadership development as a result of the work we were doing with clients. As we took on more intensive, long-term, and meaningful programs, we noticed some some serious gaps in our own work. And we also noticed a pattern –  the same serious gaps existing in the work of other really reputable world class executive coaches and facilitators.


Three Gaps


Gap #1: Where’s the data?


The first gap came from our clients when they started asking, “how do you know if we are successful?”


Of course we responded with big smiles on our face because we had smiley sheets to prove our  great results. Participants were happy with our content and our coaches/facilitators. But, deep down inside, we knew we were only measuring client reaction and not behavioral change.


Gap #2: Where’s the plan?


The second major gap we began to notice, no matter how good our content was and how much we prompted participants, was that when our action planning process was paper based, 80% of the participants either didn’t create an action plan or their plan was so weak it wouldn’t support behavioral change. On top of that, since it was paper based, there was zero transparency between the participant and coach; and between the participant and her manager – and we know that the manager’s role is critical to creating behavioral change.

Gap #3: Where’s the pen?


We also started noticing another interesting trend back in 2011 and it’s continued every year since. We were in a workshop – the first of several in a 7-month program with a high tech client in Denver, Colorado. The head of IT security looked down at the workbook on his desk, looked up at our program facilitator and said “I haven’t taken notes on paper in years.”


That was a huge wakeup call for us. We knew that we had to get relevant when it came to the modern learner and technology if we wanted to have credibility with our participants.
Meanwhile – here’s what we know about leadership development.


  1. Companies spend a lot of money on it (leadership development). A 2012 study found that American companies spend almost $14 billion annually on leadership development training.
  2. Most of the time behavior isn’t retained or we don’t know if it has been, because it’s not measured. So many times, after a leadership program ends, new behaviors aren’t sustained. Studies have found that adult learners in a lecture setting forget nearly 50% of what they learn within two weeks.
  3. Meanwhile, according to a study of 500 CEOs by McKinsey, when asked to rank their top three human-capital priorities, CEOs said leadership development was included as both a current and a future priority. Almost two-thirds of the respondents identified leadership development as their number-one concern.


Where does that lead us as coaches, trainers, consultants and facilitators?


We can and we must measure the impact of coaching and leadership development.


#1 – we have to be able to show our executive sponsors the return if we truly want to make the leadership development agenda a strategic priority.


#2 – if we want to create credibility with our programs, we have to measure with the same discipline that we measure anything else in the business.


The 4 Levels of Measurement


Our measurement methodology is loosely based on the Kirkpatrick Model original developed by Dr. Don Kirkpatrick. We measure through the 4 levels pictured below. Those in the organizational development world are probably familiar with this model.

4 Levels of Measurement in Leadership Development Programs

Level 1: Reaction


Level 1 measures the participant’s reaction to coaching and training. Often referred to as “smiley sheets”, this level of measurement measures reaction to both the content of the program and the coach/facilitator. This is the easiest level of measurement and a simple survey at the end of a workshop or a plus/delta at the end of a coaching session does the trick.

Level 2: Application


Level 2 in our methodology measures the extent to which the participant applies insights from the coaching/training to the workplace – from a self-perspective.


This is where measurement gets more complicated and where Coachmetrix can help. In our Coachmetrix application, the participant responds to ongoing pulse feedback surveys throughout an engagement to measure how well they are tracking on their action plan and applying what they are learning. This level of measurement, when compared to Level 3, enables the participant to understand how well their self perception is aligned with that of others.

Level 3: Behavior


Level 3 measures the participant’s change in behavior from the perspective of others. This is where almost all coaches, trainers and consultants stumble.


Here’s our recommendation on how to measure behavioral change. It’s a multi-step process based on the five conditions we outlined in an earlier post that are facilitated and automated by Coachmetrix.


Step 1: Engage supporters:


Each leadership coachee selects a group supporters – usually around five people.


The coachee asks supporters for input into his or her action plan. Sometimes this data comes from a 360 process and it should be supplemented with direct verbal conversations between the participant and supporter.


Step 2: Build an action plan


The participant creates an action plan that includes a goal statement, a behavioral statement (this is also used for the survey item in Coachmetrix) and additional details like action items and support needed.
Step 3: Measure


Identify your scale. You can use a traditional likert scale of 1-5 (perhaps linked to the same scale on your 360). We prefer a 7-point scale of -3 through +3 where zero represents no change, negative scores represent getting worse and positive scores represent improvement.
Coachmetrix automates a monthly survey process and consolidates the data so that is it displayed graphically. The numerical data provides feedback from the past 30 days and is supplemented with suggestions and ideas for the future (feedforward) for the next 30 days.
Step 4: Follow-up


The participant then follows up with supporters and incorporates their feedback and feedforward into an updated action plan.
The process of engaging your supporters, building a plan, measuring and asking for feedback and feedforward is almost like a marketing campaign. It helps to accelerate behavior change and perception change. Remember, in most cases, that changing perceptions is often harder than changing behavior.


Level 4: Organizational Impact


There are a number of components you might measure at the organizational level including employee engagement, retention of participants in the program and turnover of team members who directly report to program participants.
We culminate our coaching and leadership development programs by guiding participants through a Return on Investment (ROI) calculation. Here’s a previous post where we outline our ROI calculation approach.


How to Apply These Tools in Your Leadership Development and Coaching Programs


Measurement is a must if we want to take our business and our profession to the next level.


Coachmetrix can help.
With Coachmetrix you can:

  • Create online action plans.
  • Share action plans with anyone to create transparency.
  • Engage in online and private discussions with your coachees to add reinforcement between coaching sessions.
  • Build a team of supporters to help your coachee accelerate behavioral and perception change.
  • Measure ongoing behavioral change through our pulse feedback mechanism.
  • Take private notes.
  • And more!

If the time is right for you to optimize your coaching, leadership development and team development engagements, give Coachmetrix a try. Your first project is on us.
Get started at coachmetrix.com.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt