5 Things You Need to Know to Build a Business Case for Executive or Team Coaching

by | Aug 27, 2020 | Coaching Skills, Leadership, Professional Development | 0 comments

If you’re an executive trying to bring coaching into your organization, or a leader who is preparing to ask your organization to sponsor a coaching engagement for yourself or your team, then this article is for you. I am so often asked for this information (by both leaders and other coaches who I mentor) that it is time to document this and share it more broadly. People ask me for this information like the answers are a secret! I am pleased to offer this up as a way to further strengthen our ability to position coaching as a legitimate, measurable investment in the development of leaders and teams; an investment that can catapult an entire organization towards clarifying, meeting, and exceeding their business objectives.

These are the same points I have provided for:
✓ CEOs to share with their boards to build confidence in their decision to invest in coaching.
✓ CHROs to share with their executive teams as a way to help usher coaching into the organization and to build a coaching culture.
✓ Individual leaders to help them build business cases for their own development or to provide team coaching that ensures successful change management, product and services launches, and other team initiatives.

Use the 5 core questions and subquestions included in this article to shape the business case to your unique needs. There are sample answers provided to help inspire your thinking.

#1 What is coaching and why is it meaningful for our organization and culture?

There are many variations for the core definition of coaching. We at Bright Arrow define coaching as: a meaningful, confidential, accountability partnership that enables a leader to identify their organic strengths, derailers that emerge under stress, and developmental opportunities required in order for them (and their teams) to expand into greater potential and manage business complexity.

This part of your business case answers:

How will, having a coach who brings the following foster this individual’s (or team’s) development and achievement of business objectives?

  • Neutral and objective viewpoint
  • Has diverse experience and perspective
  • Brings benchmark info from other organizations and individuals
  • A fresh set of eyes on the business’s: goals, leadership, overarching opportunities and limitations that the leaders themselves may not be able to see

#2 What are the outcomes and benefits we desire from a coaching engagement?

Coaching outcomes and benefits are unique to each individual, team and organization. Depending on the type of engagement, there are benefits at the company, team and individual level. There are always tangible and intangible benefits. As you build your business case, be sure to emphasize the tangible benefits as the intangible are difficult to measure (but absolutely worth including).

This part of your business case answers:

What are the benefits of this coaching engagement for the company or team?
What are the benefits of this coaching engagement for the individual?
What tangible benefits can we expect from this coaching engagement?
What intangible benefits may emerge from this coaching engagement?
Why are these benefits important to us?

#3 What is the ideal timeline and duration of this coaching process in order to support the urgency of leadership development needs and the organization’s initiatives?

The duration of most individual and team coaching engagements is six months or longer because it takes time to build competencies and change behaviors. However, there are exceptions when it makes sense for an engagement to be shorter; abbreviated leadership onboarding support, rapid team development for special initiatives, etc. Your coach will make a recommendation.

This part of your business case answers:

How soon do we need to stand up this coaching engagement in order for it to align with the business’s needs and timelines?

Also, be prepared to speak to the macro-level coaching milestones. The process is roughly the same for individual and team coaching.

  • Kick-Off: Coach gets to know the leader or team and what is important to them. They discuss company or team performance to goals, trajectory, hurdles, and opportunities. They often review the team structure and individual member support functions.
  • Administer assessments and stakeholder interviews: Most coaches offer assessments and stakeholder interviews that help leaders and teams uncover their organic strengths and performance derailers.
  • The coach and leader set measurable coaching goals with specific end results. (Usually getting their boss’s approval of these goals)
  • They coach to the action plan over 6 months or so.
  • Monitor performance for results. Re-calibrate as needed.
  • Wrap-up meeting to assess results and review the action plan for future success. (Including a close-out session with their boss)

#4 What tangible return on investment (ROI) should our business expect? 

Coaching has been notoriously difficult to measure. But it is far from impossible! The difficulty does not lie with the coach necessarily. A great coach knows business levers well enough to provide a sound calculation. The trouble usually lies with the business not tracking the metrics it would need in order to leverage the ROI calculation. Further, it is impossible to measure the many intangible benefits coaching instills (see list of intangible benefits above).

% ROI = (Benefits Achieved – Executive Coaching Costs) * 100 / Executive Coaching Costs
Check out this sample calculation from ATD.

This part of your business case answers:

What do we need to measure in order to calculate a return on our investment for coaching? How can our coach help with that?

What follows are some of the key performance indicators often incorporated into coaching ROI calculations:

  • Personal productivity
  • Retention/turnover
  • Cost control
  • Sales volume
  • Ramp up time
  • Successful change initiatives
  • Successful product or services launch

#5 What is the (right) budget to ask for?

For many organizations, Q4 is budgeting season and it is crucial that you do your research in order to ask for the right budget.

This part of your business case answers:

How much budget do we need to ask for?

The financial investment for executive coaching can vary wildly ($20,000 – $60,000 depending on a variety of factors). Team coaching costs are also quite variable. Because of that, there is a coach for every budget. But as a leader, you want to be able to afford the perfect coach for your needs. Start exploring partnerships before you ask for budget dollars. Interview a couple of ideal prospective coaches. Ask for proposals. Put the right number in your budget.  Consider that you may need to include more dollars for just in time coaching needs that could emerge later in the year.

Wishing you the best of luck in building your business case for executive and team coaching! Let us know how we can help.


Other helpful resources regarding coaching for you or your organization


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