You’ve spent time and effort on creating and designing your mentoring or coaching program. You’ve also got the “buy-in” of key stakeholders within the organization. Although these are important steps, it is equally important to ensure that the program is effective – and that it maintains its effectiveness. As we will discuss in the future, your ultimate goal with a coaching or mentoring program is to make it a permanent part of the organization’s culture. To make that happen, you must take a few major steps beyond the implementation of the program. The next step, then, is to measure effectiveness. Let’s look at some great ways to do this.
First, it’s important to remember that measuring effectiveness is not a one-time thing. You must continue to measure the effectiveness of your program on a regular basis, just as you would a regular training and development program. Whether your program is formal or informal, the first thing to do in preparation for measurement is to revisit your original goals, objectives, and mission. From these items, you can formulate an evaluation. If your program is informal, take the goals of the program to formulate interview questions to be posed to both coaches and mentors and proteges.
The overall goal of an informal interview is to find out exactly how the program has affected the lives of both the coaches and the proteges. You’ll want to find out if they have achieved advancement professionally, personally, or both. You’ll need to discover if the program reaches beyond the office environment. And, you’ll want to find out if the program is meeting your original goals.
For a formal program, consider creating a formal evaluation using your goals and mission. Think about how you would evaluate a training program in the lower and middle levels of Fitzpatrick’s levels of evaluation. Write a separate evaluation for coaches and for proteges so that you can compare both back to your original goals. Make the evaluation a formal part of the program, that is, send it out via email or inter-office mail and request a response within a certain amount of time. If program members fail to respond, give them a friendly reminder. Also inform them that their responses are completely confidential and that the goal of the evaluation is to make the program better for them. You’ll learn quite a bit from a formal evaluation, especially when you can put numbers and responses in comparison with your original goals.
Evaluating effectiveness doesn’t have to stop at interviews and paper-based evaluations. Consider evaluating the people who work with both coaches and proteges, as well as their managers and supervisors. This way, you’ll get an overall picture of how the program is impacting others as well as the direct participants.
Another way to evaluate is to find out how the program is perceived throughout the organization. Again, this could be done the same way regardless of whether the program is formal or informal. Ask organizational members if they’ve heard of the program, if they know anyone who is involved with it, and if they’ve seen a difference in how the organization is functioning. While you’re looking at perceptions, go back to that executive sponsor or key stakeholder and discover what he or she perceives about the coaching or mentoring program. Although executives may be removed from the every day life at the organization, anything they’ve heard, whether good or bad, is important news to you and your coaching program.
Another way to measure your program is to do some research and benchmark it against similar programs at similar organizations. You may have a formal or informal network of organizational development professionals, so that is a good place to start. Find out what kind of results those organizations have had with coaching and mentoring programs, on both an informal and formal basis. Take time to do some Internet research on coaching and mentoring and decide if any of the organizations you find are worth contacting. You may hear some good ideas for changes going forward, as well as some encouragement that your program is working well.
The major idea to keep in mind about measuring the effectiveness of your program is to keep the evaluation going at regular intervals. If you get one good evaluation, don’t stop there. As we will discuss, your program is a growing and changing part of your organization and should be treated as such. Now that you’ve evaluated, it’s time to move on to the changes you’ll need to make.
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