Part 12 – Evaluation
Jeff Mitchell – Community Coach Advisor – Sport Auckland / GACU
This is the twelfth article in a series of 13 on developing your coaching skills. For the full list of articles in the series see the articles page.
Evaluation is a key step in your overall development and one that is often neglected. Coach development is an on-going process; to continue your development you need to regularly revise and update your plan. Once you have completed the goals set out in the plan – or reached the specified end date for which the plan has been written – you should then evaluate the plan. Before you update your plan, it is important that you evaluate it and use this evaluation to improve on it. In this article we will examine how evaluation fits into the coach development process, why you need to evaluate your plan, and how you can do it effectively.
What is evaluation?
For your Coach Development Plan, evaluation is the process of reviewing your plan and identifying how effective it has been, by determining if the plan has achieved what was intended. It also entails examining why each goal was – or was not – achieved. The evaluation involves looking at each component of the plan, identifying what worked and what did not, and then deciding on a future course of action.
Evaluation is an important step in the overall process of developing and implementing a Coach Development Plan. Just as you should review and evaluate each session that you deliver, you also need to evaluate the effectiveness of your plan. This process is similar to the coaching process, as shown in the following diagram:
Why do you need to evaluate your Coach Development Plan?
At the completion of a plan you want to improve it so that you can continue to develop. You need to know what worked well that you should continue doing, and you want to know what needs changing or further work. This process will allow you to identify these aspects, helping you to write a new, improved plan. It will also help you to become more effective at goal setting by determining if the goals that you set are appropriate.
The Coach Development Plan is intended to improve your coaching, which means changing your behaviour. You will want to identify any changes in behaviour that have occurred while using the plan and the improvements that have been made. This will also raise your self-awareness, as you will understand what developmental approaches work for you and which are not effective. This will help you to understand your own learning styles and how you work best. Another benefit is that it will help you to ensure that you are spending your time on productive tasks – tasks that lead to an increase in your effectiveness.
How do you evaluate your Coach Development Plan?
To evaluate your plan you will need to sit down and have a good look at what you set out to achieve and what you actually achieved. You should undertake the following six steps:
- Assessing your goals
- Identifying your change in behaviour
- Identifying your learning
- Updating your profile
- Evaluating the structure of the plan, and
- Reflecting on the plan.
The depth of your evaluation will depend on the time you have available and the value that you see the plan providing. The more thorough that you make your evaluation, the more effective you are able to make your next plan. Let’s have a look at what you can do for each of the six steps.
Step 1: Assessing your goals
Assessing your goals involves two stages. The first stage is to ask yourself if you achieved your goals by the intended deadline, and why this was.
Examining the effectiveness of the actions that you took will show you which activities are beneficial. You will probably want to repeat the actions that you had success with. Some will no longer be relevant, but by understanding why they worked you can use this knowledge to identify other effective actions. By identifying actions that didn’t work you can think about how you could change them to make them more effective, or avoid using them in future plans.
When assessing your goals, you should decide if they were appropriate. You will then be able to select the most effective goals for your next Coach Development Plan. By answering the questions below, you may be able to modify your goals to work more effectively on the area you want to address, or you may be able to identify more appropriate goals. Some of the questions you could ask yourself as part of this assessment include:
Your plan will only help you if the goals it is based on are appropriate. Reflect on the goals that you set and the actions you took to achieve them. Look for trends and identify what you have learnt that will inform your next plan.
Step 2: Identify behaviour changes
To improve your coaching you need to do things differently – whether it is how you plan your sessions, how you communicate with your athletes, the way that you present instructions, or the feedback that you provide. To know if you have improved you need to evaluate what changes you have made to your behaviour.
Decide what behaviours have changed as a result of each goal that you have set. Are there behaviours that you are doing more often, or are there some that you are doing more effectively? Some examples could include:
- Are you asking more questions?
- Are your questions more relevant?
- Are you using more open questions?
- Are you maintaining your composure on the side-line?
- Are you spending 45 minutes planning each session?
To identify the changes in your behaviour, look at how you behaved prior to the plan and following it. Review the feedback that you have received from peer observations and from working with your mentor. For each of these changes, identify what the impact has been – has it led to you coaching more effectively?
Step 3: Identify your learning
In addition to the changes in your behaviour, you also want to understand what you have learnt as a result of the plan. There are two sides to this: what you have learnt about coaching (the knowledge that you have gained), and what you have learnt about yourself.
This review will help to consolidate your learning, improving your ability to use this knowledge in your coaching. Looking at how you responded to the plan will show you what was effective and what you should try to include in future plans. This could be around the goals that you set, the actions that you take, or the areas that you profile. As part of the evaluation you will be looking to see if the plan has helped you to develop your knowledge and understanding; if it hasn’t then you need to look at how you structure it so that it is more effective.
Your response to the plan can raise your awareness by providing you with insights into how you work best. Ask yourself the following questions to examine how you responded to the plan:
Understanding how you reacted to the plan can help you to be more effective using future plans.
Step 4: Update your profile
The changes in the areas of your profile are an important measure of the effectiveness of the plan. To really know if your plan has been effective you need to quantify the improvements that you have made. One way to do this is to profile yourself again in the areas you looked at when you wrote the plan. You are looking to see if you have improved in these areas. If you have, then the plan has been a success. If not, then you need to reassess how you go about improving yourself.
Step 5: Evaluate the structure of the plan
Your Coach Development Plan needs to work for you. Part of your evaluation should look at how appropriate the structure of the plan was. Did it help you to improve, or was it missing certain components that you needed to become a better coach? You may want to include more in it than the profile wheel and goal setting. You may have found some parts of it to be too cumbersome. Your evaluation should look at how well the structure of the plan led to improving your coaching.
Along with evaluating the structure of the plan, you also want to examine your implementation. The following questions will help guide your evaluation:
If you did not implement the plan effectively, you need to decide if the plan needs restructuring or if you need to take steps to implement it better.
Step 6: Reflection
The final step of the evaluation process is to reflect on what you have come up with. This is the process of asking ‘so what?’ This will tie together the results of your evaluation and allow you to use it to improve your next plan. To reflect on your evaluation ask yourself the following questions:
- What did I set out to achieve or do?
- What happened?
- Why was this?
- What difference did this make?
- What have been the benefits of this plan?
This reflection will help you to decide on the overall benefit of the plan and to consolidate what you have learnt. In order to be a more effective coach, you need to use your improved behaviours on a regular basis. By reflecting on what has worked, you can incorporate these behaviours into your day to day coaching. Having completed your reflection, you may decide to discuss it with your mentor and get their input into evaluating it. They will also be able to help you to make sense of your evaluation and plan how you will make use of your findings.
Evaluation is an important step in the process of implementing your Coach Development Plan. Your development should be an on-going process, which means that you should continue to have a development plan that you are working through. By evaluating your current plan you are able to identify what you need to do to make the next plan more effective.
Our next issue of Taking charge of your coach development will be the last. In this issue we will look at how you use your evaluation to develop your new Coach Development Plan, and examine the next steps after having completed your plan. In this article we will finish the development cycle and look at how we renew the cycle to continue our development in the future.