Evaluating Impact 1: Challenging Self

How effectively do you use challenge to illuminate your work as a coach and mentor?

To support you to gain a deeper understand of the impact of your work with each and every client?

Exploring the knotty topic of evaluating the impact of our work with course participants on our coaching and mentoring qualification programmes recently has challenged me to ask that question yet again of myself.

Why ‘again’?

Because illumination is not linear. And the same question, at a different time, will always light up another corner of darkness. Something it is worth remembering as part of our ongoing coaching and mentoring practice!

So, how do I . . .

  • make sure that I am not just fooling myself and being selective in what I am hearing and reading about my work as a coach?
  • make sure that I am not resting on the laurels of positive feedback – which, let’s be fair, it can be very tempting to do?
  • push myself to continuously ramp up the ante and keep myself in a learning state? After all that is what we encourage our clients to do!
  • ‘know’ that my work adds ‘real’ value to what my clients are already thinking and feeling?
  • get feedback that goes beyond the conscious to the unconscious learning? Getting into scary territory now . . .

How have you wrestled with the challenge of gathering evidence of the impact of your work – its impact in the moment and its impact into the future? Have you come up with some sure fire ways of being able to ‘measure’ the difference you make?

And that launches us into the next set of questions . . .

  • What do we mean by ‘measurement’?
  • What do we measure our work against?
  • Who does the measuring?
  • What does it look and feel like?

What I am absolutely clear about, is that collecting only . . .

  1. here and now evidence
  2. evidence that can be written down and translated into tables and graphs
  3. information that is from the same source

. . . will only get you so far. Yes – the traditional way of measuring what you do against your client’s stated objectives are clearly important but they won’t give you the complete picture.

One of my favourite examples

. . . which I use when talking about evaluation to new coaches and mentors, is a performance measure which I met in the health service in my inspection days. It related to hospital beds and to how quickly a hospital vacated them?

The prompt for the performance measure was the desire to reduce waiting times and to get more patient throughput. Looked at in isolation you could understand the good intent. However, it seemed to me that there was a rather more important question to ask than ‘How quickly are hospital beds vacated?’

Is not the most important question – ‘Why are the beds emptied?’ Is it because the patient has died or the patient has been cured?

Being very clear about purpose

. . . about what you are trying to achieve at the big picture level as well as in the here and now requires a much more expansive and inclusive approach to evaluation.

And this is where the challenge lies for you as a coach or mentor. Do you settle for what can be captured in the moment and relatively easily through traditional means or do you find ways to evaluate the impact of your work that takes you to a deeper level of understanding?

So – how effectively do you use challenge to illuminate your work as a coach or mentor?


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