Evaluating Impact 3: Collecting Evidence of Impact

Collecting evidence of the impact of coaching and mentoring is not as straightforward as it might appear!

Unpicking what is happening on the surface can be difficult enough. Teasing out what has changed at a deeper level as a result of your work is, exactly that, teasing!

But does it matter?

Is it sufficient to know that your client has achieved what matters to them? Or do you need to go further?

Understanding what it is that you do that makes a difference and adds value is important both for you and for your client. It gives you feedback on how you can work most effectively with each individual client and extends your understanding of how you can build on strong foundations in your work with future clients.

It gives you an insight into where you might want to go next with your own personal development and helps you to identify areas that you wish to take to coaching supervision.

Exactly what evidence is collected

. . . and how will clearly depend on the individual context. What is important, however, is for there to be clarity about why evidence is being collected as this will inform the when and how.

Evidence sought at different times will provide different insights on the process. The feedback received immediately after a session, for example, is likely to be different to that gathered the next day or the following week. It is likely to be very different to that collected 3 months after the coaching/mentoring has finished.

And where does your client fit in?

How do you involve your client in the evaluation process at the moment? Is this part of what you cover at the outset when you are contracting, how you are going to work together or does it emerge at the end of your session or sessions?

How do you handle it when you are working in an organisational context when there are a number of stakeholders likely to be interested in the outcome of the coaching or mentoring?

And, most importantly, how do you ensure that it is a transparent process that supports the establishment of an effective coaching or mentoring relationship with your client rather than risks undermining it?

Being clear in your own mind about the purpose of collecting evidence of the impact of coaching and mentoring is clearly your starting point. The purpose for . . .

  • each individual client
  • your clients more generally
  • any stakeholders who have an interest in the outcome

And importantly . . .

  • the purpose for you

While there are likely to be elements of what you do that are a consistent part of your evaluation of impact process, it is also probable that there will be some variation. At different times you may wish to focus on different elements of your work, for example. Or you might have something quite specific that you or your client wants to test out.

So how can you go beyond

. . . the collection of the obvious and the more conscious evidence of the impact of different aspects of your work? How can you push the boundaries so that you are prompted to extend your own learning about yourself, about your work as a coach or mentor and about your clients?

In the next blog I would like to share with you a model that I have developed to support participants on Optimising Coaching’s Coaching and Mentoring Programmes which they seem to have found useful. The model has proved to be really useful in prompting thinking outside the box.


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