A little while ago I was attending a conference on manager training and how you can effectively use employee coaching. The speaker talked about coaching techniques and using open-ended questioning and the like.
This got me thinking about how using surveys or questionnaires could really benefit the coaching practice and employee coaching.
Think for a moment about when you normally fill out a survey when it comes to a training event.
Yes, that’s right, it’s normally at the end after you have taken the training. So, there is no opportunity during the training to help tailor it to what you need – if it wasn’t measuring up.
So, what if we could enhance the efficiency of coaching by including surveys or questionnaires at different phases of a coaching event?
A questionnaire could be used to help formulate an employee’s goals upfront before the coaching engagement takes place, for example by using an Employee Goals template. Then during the process, the effectiveness could be evaluated to help tailor the approach for each individual employee. Finally, at the end of the series of coaching sessions, an evaluation survey could be administered to help the coach and the organization receive feedback as to its effectiveness. An exit survey would also be useful to evaluate if the employee’s goals were met. A competency assessment will help determine an individual’s potential in certain areas and sketch a certain employee profile.
It this article we will explore how this could be accomplished and what types of questions to include in coaching surveys and questionnaires while employee coaching.
What is employee coaching?
Ok, so let’s first start by looking at the basis of employee coaching: what is it and when to use it.
Coaching in any organization refers to the development of a partnership between a manager (coach) and employee (coachee) to help reach a mutual understanding of what needs to be accomplished and how to do it, to meet a desired goal.
One of the greatest challenges with employee coaching is the coach has to try not to take on the issue of the person being coached, by trying to solve their problem(s).
Instead, they need to leave the final decision to the employee or coachee, since they know the situation in question best.
The coach should just provide support so the coachee can arrive at his or her own decision.
So, how can you provide support?
Well, you need to help the coachee to clearly define goals, explore what is happening in a given situation or for a given job role or task, find possible choices and support the coachee’s solution.
Now, let’s look at when employee coaching is useful.
Coaching is often seen as something that is done when an employee is struggling performance-wise, but it can also be used to help two parties resolve their differences and work and communicate better together.
So, you can also use coaching when the parties in question are willing to communicate with each other but there is some frustration with the communication process. You can also use coaching if the parties trust level isn’t very high but they are committed to resolving the situation.
Furthermore, employee coaching can be used to motivate and develop staff, build teams, and enhance learning.
Traditional coaching methodology
If you’ve ever coached someone before or been the person being coached (coachee), you may remember that the process involved meeting with your coach in one-on-one discussion-like sessions.
Usually, these sessions would be at regular intervals over a period of time. They would involve open-ended questions and guidance to help the coachee arrive at solutions/improve on skills.
There may also be a written agreement that is drawn up between the coach and coachee and scheduled follow-up meetings in order to gauge if the goals were met/skills were improved.
Now, there is nothing particularly wrong with this method of coaching, but there are ways to make the process more efficient and ways to help monitor more objectively the effectiveness of the coaching practice.
Coaching takes time on the part of the coach and coachee. So, minimizing the time required away from regular work duties can help make employee coaching a more effective option to help improve employee performance, for instance.
How can this be accomplished?
One way to improve efficiency is to use surveys or questionnaires at various stages of the coaching process. This approach helps set the stage prior to coaching and allows an employee to individually reflect on the experience throughout.
When can surveys or questionnaires be used in coaching?
Coaching surveys can be used at three main stages in the coaching process:
1. Prior to coaching
At the onset of the coaching initiative, a coaching survey or questionnaire can be used to initially gauge an employee’s level of competence, identify their goals or find out what they already know about a situation.
2. During coaching
During the coaching process, an interactive employee coaching form or, more specifically for this stage, a questionnaire, can be used to reveal what is working or not working for the employee. It is a way to help shift the actions to better suit the needs of an employee. At this point, we would use more of an objective questionnaire with open-ended questions in order to tailor the coaching engagement to the employee’s needs.
3. Following a coaching engagement
Finally, coaching surveys can be used at the end of the process as an exit survey. This helps to evaluate the effectiveness of the coaching sessions for each employee. It also helps the organization collect data in order to continuously refine any coaching initiatives they undertake with their employees.
This exit survey could be scenario-based if evaluating the competency level of an employee following the coaching event.
Such questions would be formulated similarly to, “What would you do if….” or “What tactics would you use to…?”
These questions should also be based on Key Performance Indicators or KPIs that you identify upfront with the employee.
It is very important, especially for evaluation purposes and to get the best results possible, that these exit surveys be collected anonymously in order to evaluate the coaching initiative itself and continuously improve.
What are the benefits of coaching surveys?
The key benefits of including surveys are they help to establish goals upfront and allow the coachee to think of this first on his or her own time without the initial influence of the coach.
Later in the process, an interactive employee coaching form or questionnaire can help identify what is working or not working in a more objective manner. The coach can then adjust his or her coaching style and line of questioning or suggestions for professional development to align with the needs of the employee.
This, in turn, helps make the process more efficient by allowing the employee to reflect privately on the process thus far, providing valuable feedback for the coach and organization.
Surveys and questionnaires can also benefit the coach or manager in monitoring and assessing the employee’s progress during the coaching process.
At the end of the coaching engagement, an anonymous exit survey will help provide 360-degree feedback, assessing how effective the coaching sessions were for the employee as well as providing vital information on the coach’s ability to help the employee achieve his or her goals.
This is essential for continuous improvement of employee performance, as well as managing communication and working relationships in an organization.
Data collected via surveys and/or questionnaires from the three key stages of a coaching initiative (beginning, middle and end) can help boost coaching efficiency and effectiveness.
How to implement surveys or questionnaires in coaching
So, now that we have covered what coaching is, traditional coaching methodology, when to use them and the benefits, let’s explore how to implement surveys and some of the types of questions that can be included at each stage in the coaching process.
Creating an engaging survey or questionnaire, like what the company Pointerpro offers, is easy with their three-step formula: make the survey, share it/export it and collect the data.
They also offer many features that would be useful to include in your coaching engagements.
So, let’s go over some of the main features that would be best suited for coaching purposes. If you want to read more, you can check out their full list of features here.
Let’s explore some features:
- Various question types, such as open-ended questions, image choice, rating questions, ranking, etc. which are mostly all included in their Basic, free plan. You might want to check out this in-depth guide on the types of questions that you can build.
- Engaging features such as image choice, smiley ratings, media files or question logic would be useful for extracting feedback about a coaching session.
- If you are wanting to assess if an employee has grasped job performance objectives better after their coaching experience, you could invent scenario-based quiz questions to include in the final questionnaire using Pointerpro’s Quirky Quiz Capabilities.
- Since one of the goals of using surveys or questionnaires in coaching is to improve efficiency, collecting data is imperative. Pointerpro has a refined reporting feature which allows you to include various data filters and share reports privately or publicly, as well as export to PDF or Excel for analysis.
- There’s also the capability of offline mode, multiple languages, the ability for participants to save and continue surveys later on, email for distribution purposes, and multi-user management and collaboration.
What to include in coaching surveys
Now let’s look at the types of questions that could be included at each of the three phases of a coaching engagement.
Every situation or organization is different, so this list is not exhaustive, but it should give you some suggestions of what to ask in a survey or questionnaire.
Questions to ask at the beginning – Establish SMART goals:
- Ask the employee why he or she is seeking a coach
- SMART goals – Ask the employee to outline his or her goals to be SMART
○ Employee goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound
○ The initial questionnaire should outline step by step how to formulate goals to be SMART by taking employees through each letter
of the acronym when writing them
- Ask if there is someone he or she has in mind to be his or her coach – the employee may have a preference if there is a choice of coaches
Questions to ask during the coaching practice – Tailor coaching practice to employee needs:
- Ask the employee what he or she finds helpful/not so helpful so far during the coaching experience
- Ask where he or she is with respect to the timeline for attaining his or her goals (tie it back to the SMART goals established earlier) – in other words, what steps has the employee taken thus far to reach his or her goals
- Ask about the appropriateness of the time required for coaching sessions and if it is too much or too little in his or her opinion
- Ask if there is something else he or she wants to learn/pursue as a solution to a problem
Questions to ask at the end – Evaluate the coaching initiative:
- Ask if the employee was able to meet his or her SMART goals (tie it back to the initial survey/questionnaire) – if not, ask why and what obstacles prevented this accomplishment
- Ask how he or she felt about the coach and the coaching process in general (you can use rating scale-type questions for this)
- Ask if the coach provided useful resources to help with his or her professional development/solve a problem he or she was facing
So, the bottom line is if you are looking to enhance the efficiency of your coaching practices, start incorporating surveys or questionnaires at different phases of a coaching event.
This helps formulate an employee’s SMART goals prior to coaching, tailor the experience to an individual’s needs, and evaluate coaching sessions in order to continuously improve the efficiency and effectiveness of such initiatives.