ACE: A Model for Coaching Evaluation and Return on Investment (Part 2)

Part 2 of the article by Gladeana McMahon and Adrienne Rosen. Part 1 can be found here: ACE: A Model for Coaching Evaluation and Return on Investment.


Stage Two moves the process forward from one where the Coach and Coaching Client feel able to work together, to formerly contracting the coaching programme. This focuses on what such a programme would actually look like and the expectations of the sponsor, client and coach leading to a formalization of goals and outcomes.

The beginnings of working on a Behavioural Contact were started during the Assessment process and are now taken to the next level which culminates in the signing off by all parties of the outcomes required from the coaching programme.

  1. Behavioural Contracting

In an ideal world a tripartite three way meeting between the client, the client’s manager and the coach would be arranged. However, given constraints on time the views of both parties can be captured by the coach meeting the client and working directly with him/her to capture desired objectives and coaching outcomes. The coach can then arrange a telephone call with the manager to capture specific organizational needs and this also gives the coach the opportunity of finding out more about the manager’s perceptions of the client’s strengths and development needs.

During this tripartite discussion (which can be conducted via the telephone with the manager or in person with the client and manager) the purpose is to:

  1. Reach a final agreement regarding the outcomes desired by all parties and the likely approach including use of diagnostics.
  2. At this stage the coach will be in a position to assess whether the coaching outcomes are feasible and can be delivered by the end of the coaching programme. If it appears that expectations may not be realistic then the coach together with the client and his/her manager can discuss this to ensure that realistic targets are set.
  3. It is during this stage that attention can be given to any existing key performance indicators the organization uses and how these can be reflected in relation to the outcomes required from the coaching programme.
  4. Although issues of confidentiality, feedback structure etc. will have been discussed with the coaching client, the coach also provides the same information to the manager.
  5. In rare cases the circumstances of the client may change during the period of the coaching programme. The coach is mindful that this may happen and that should this be the case that such changes may mean it is possible that such changes may change the focus of the outcomes desired. If this is the case, then re-contracting the coaching outcomes may need to take place.
  6. The key to completing an effective Behavioural Contract being that outcomes are realistic and specific and that the coach seeks to elicit from the manager and client how these will be measured. For example, as mentioned earlier if there are Key Performance Indicators that are relevant and/or how to hone down objectives that may at first sight appear less easy to quantify, such as ‘increased confidence’. By using the Behavioural Contracting process even those outcomes that may at first appear difficult to quantify can become more specific through the process of identifying quantifiable outcomes.
  7. If it appears that additional tools may be required that are not covered in the cost of the specified coaching contract, it would be the responsibility of the coach to ensure that the cost of these is agreed.
  8. Although the Behavioural contract is held by the coach and the client and the client’s manager if she/he wishes to do so, some organizations may wish it to be held by the HR person involved if there is such an individual.


By the end of the Contracting Stage of the process, all parties should be clear about the outcomes desired and the specific parameters such as confidentiality and feedback.


Stage Three of the ACE Model focuses on evaluation of the coaching programme. Evaluation takes place throughout the coaching programme (via individual session reviews and specified formal reviews which may involve the coaching client’s manager) as well as formerly at the end.

  1. Coaching Session Reviews

It is normal coaching practice for coaches to review progress at the end of each session. Such reviews help ensure that the coaching being offered is on track and meets individual client as well as organizational needs. Coaches may also use a Coaching Session Analysis Document to capture progress following each session.

  1. Formal Reviews (Client and Manager)
  2. Client: The coach would normally agree with the client to undertake a formal review perhaps at mid-point during the coaching programme. This type of review is aimed at measuring progress against the agreed outcomes stated on the Behavioural Contract. In essence it comprises of three simple questions, “where were you when you started the coaching programme?”, “where you are now and what have you achieved?” and lastly, “what else remains for you to achieve so that you reach your desired outcome?” In addition concrete examples are also discussed to demonstrate changes in behaviour, thinking and feeling.
  3. Manager: During the Behavioural Contracting process an agreement will have been reached with the coaching client’s manager concerning the type of feedback that would be given, how it should be given and when. The Coach would therefore adhere to whatever was agreed. Even if the manager opted for a less formal feedback process relying on meetings between the coaching client and him/herself, the coach in a bid to ensure that objective feedback of progress is sought would arrange to speak to the manager having agreed this with the coaching client. This conversation focuses on eliciting from the manager the changes that s/he has perceived and those areas still outstanding.
  4. Final Coaching Evaluation (Client and Manager)

Once the coaching programme has been completed an on-line evaluation is sent to both the client and his/her manager.

  1. Client: The Client Evaluation Form is sent electronically to be completed and returned. This evaluation seeks to elicit from the coaching client his/her evaluation of the coach, their approach, and the outcomes achieved together with the benefits of the coaching programme.
  2. Manager: The Manager’s Evaluation Form is also sent as an on-line option and seeks to elicit his/her evaluation of the progress the individual has made.


The Evaluation part of the ACE Model seeks to evaluate the coaching programme during as well as at the end of the coaching programme. It aims to capture the success of the coaching programme and provide the organization with a way of evaluating the return on the coaching investment as an overall intervention thereby enabling a more effective way of considering the benefits of coaching to the organization as well as to the individual.

The ACE Model brings together all aspects of best practice into a way of working that assists the coach, the coaching client and the organization ensure the most effective outcome.