Can we help HR measure ROI on coaching?


This seems to be the perennial bogeyman for Learning & Development; measuring the success of specific training investments. It is also somewhat of a bogeyman question for training providers to be asked when pitching for work.

I empathise with the quandary L & D professionals find themselves in. They have to justify the coaching to the bean-counters, yet often have very little evidence to back up the business case. As society becomes more and more focused on quantitative analysis, unfortunately for Human Resources this area is getting left behind.

Personally, I am not a massive fan of qualitative analysis but I had an experience on 20th November that made me smile and attach some credit to it.

I was in Edinburgh running a Negotiation workshop for Senior Commercial Bankers from one of Britain’s main high street banks. During the introductions over coffee one of the delegates called Colin had a moment of realisation. He said “Wait a minute, Black Isle. I did some training with you guys about 10 years ago”

Now this is a tricky moment. Colin’s approach to the upcoming days training might be dictated by his memory of how useful his last experience was. Furthermore, how would other delegates approach the days training if he said “Yeah it was all right. Can’t remember what it was about though”?

Fortunately for me in that uncertain moment, Colin gave a candid account of our famous Clarity, Brevity and Impact Masterclass. “I remember two things very clearly that I ACTUALLY still use to this day when trying to influence.

1. “I use the Black Isle Black Slide technique to focus my audience’s attention”

2. “And I also regularly use your “Pyramid Structure” to help me say less and be more strategic”

This episode prompts one question that L & D professionals should be asking themselves. Will this training achieve behavioural change over time? That’s it. That’s the real test.

It is possible to measure the ROI of coaching in a quantitative manner. The challenge is that HR departments are wary of the large cost of longitudinal ROI studies. So when asked how we measure the effectiveness of our work my answer is always the same; “How would you like to measure it?”


Read more about the Black Isle Pyramid Structure here.