Proving the ROI of executive coaching and leadership development is notoriously difficult. Does individual coaching improve manager performance? Do seminars create more engaged teams? Are these employee development efforts worth the cost? There is no standardized way to answer these questions, or even to necessarily measure improved performance and engagement. Most companies rely on surveys to establish the efficacy of their development programs, which is subjective and can introduce bias. 

At Cultivate, our unique observed behavior data allows us to dig into and begin to answer some of these questions. The indicators of manager performance are different at every company, but as a first step, it is important to understand which behaviors predict high-performing managers. We performed a case study for one of our clients (around 80 managers with over 500 relationships) based on their own performance data. After splitting their managers into performance quartiles, we were able to isolate behaviors that the highest performing 25% of managers performed more often than the lowest performing 25% of managers. At this company, the highest performing managers do these behaviors more often than the lowest performing managers:

  • Initiate more conversations with their direct reports

  • Tell their teams about decisions more often

  • Give people more recognition

  • Schedule more ad hoc meetings

In the graphs above, we show each of the behaviors that predict performance. In the orange graphs, we show the number of times per week each behavior is performed by manager performance quartile and the percent difference between the highest performing managers and the lowest performing managers. In the teal graphs, we show how that behavior changes with time on the Cultivate platform and the percent difference between a manager’s first month on the platform and their fifth month on the platform.

Even taken alone, this type of insight is extremely valuable. Taken together, this data shows that Cultivate improves the behaviors that predict better manager performance, answering the elusive question of coaching ROI: using Cultivate improves manager performance.

Rachel Habbert, PhD

Rachel Habbert, PhD

Rachel is the Senior People Scientist at Cultivate. As a psychologist, she’s always been interested in people: how we think, grow, evolve, and interact. She is excited to help Cultivate users interpret their behaviors through a scientific, research-based lens.