March 05, 2015

How to Gain and Assess Commitment to Coaching in the Workplace

Commitment: Demonstrated Results from Coaching Participants

Our last several articles focused on helping the coaching participant “own” their process and progress to win The Battle for Initiative. As we have discussed, real positive change takes hard work and a continued effort over a sustained period of time on behalf of the participant. Yet too often participants fail to get the most out coaching in the workplace. Some declare premature victory and after just a few sessions assume they are at the desired or peak level of performance. Almost everyone finds the new improved behavior uncomfortable. Some people seek to validate the old behavior by rationalizing that the new behavior “slows them down” or it doesn’t deliver good results.

Article 4 -Battle for Initiative Part 3 AThe critical issue we face as executive coaches, mentors, or managers is this: how can we best ensure the participant stays committed and engaged throughout the development process? When people ask me “What makes Performex® so successful?” – I travel back in time and relate to my own experiences. I was determined to grow and develop as a leader and the methods Performex® used caused that determination.

The Performex® Coaching Process and How You Can Apply It in the Workplace

While in early coaching it may be necessary to “hold the participant accountable,”  this approach most often fails if taken too far.  In fact, in my experience, the more the participant holds themselves accountable – the better the results. The more the coach attempts to achieve results by holding the participant accountable, the less impactful the results.

The best means of keeping a coaching participant engaged is to address this issue near the beginning of the process. The coach takes the initiative for creating a balance between coaching support and participant action as the key to a successful coaching experience. The coach or manager must clearly communicate the participant’s commitment and engagement level will be demonstrated by their execution of agreed upon actions without a coach’s frequent intervention or reminders. We feel that considering multiple facets of the coaching process early on with the coaching candidate is important in identifying commitment levels and results.


The process of defining the goals, roles, and accountability of each party in the coaching relationship is often referred to as contracting. During this process, honest, open, candid discussions about expectations are required. Working through potential conflicts, establishing realistic and achievable goals, and discussing evaluation metrics provide structure and direction. Ask a participant questions like, “How does commitment on your part manifest itself in terms of completing your assignments?” This will set the stage for evaluation of results later and gets them involved in the process from the beginning. The contracting process is continuous and should be re-evaluated at intervals during the coaching engagement.

Article 4 -Battle for Initiative Part 3 B


Evaluating participant progress and motivation requires considering multiple facets of commitment:

1. Terms of the Contract

  • Is the participant on time to sessions?
  • Does the participant come prepared for sessions?
  • Does the participant complete required assignments?

2. Dedication of Resources

  • Is the participant dedicating time and mental energy to their development, assignments, and growth process?
  • Is the participant supported in their efforts by management resources?

3. Consistency

  • Does the participant demonstrate consistency in his or her efforts?
  • Does this appear to be a priority to the participant? To senior leadership?

4. Application of Learning

  • Is the participant making an effort to apply learning and achieve results?

When Participants Aren’t Achieving

Article 4 -Battle for Initiative Part 3 CThere are many reasons a participant may not be committed to workplace coaching. Even when they verbally confirm a commitment to the process, their behavior may demonstrate otherwise. At this time, a candid “truth talk” lead by the coach is required. Confront a participant with questions such as, “How important is improving to you?" Then follow-up with, "If the improvement is important, why are you not willing to make the effort to complete agreed-upon tasks on your own, with no intervention from me?” Remind them successful behavioral change starts with a commitment to achieving results. Without the commitment, there will be no results.

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