The CoachAccountable Blog

What's new with the CA platform, tutorials on using it, and customer spotlights.

Archive for September, 2012

New in CoachAccountable: Export Your Data

On Friday morning I had a call with an organization considering CoachAccoutable to be the platform for one of its new programs.  During the interview about the system and its capabilities, I was hit with a question I knew would come sooner than later from a more enterprise outfit: “Is there a way to export our data?”

My interviewer went on to elaborate concerns that I found completely understandable and might’ve anticipated: the data of their coaching over the span of a year amounts to so much of their client relationships, and to lose it would be catastrophic to the trust and integrity of those relationships.  “It wouldn’t even have to be readable: something that our admins could run as a weekly backup and have in case anything happened to CoachAccountable’s copy, something we could re-import if ever necessary and be back in business.”

It’s usually my job to say no to feature requests, and only give an eventual yes to the ones that come up for a lot of users (otherwise the system quickly becomes a bloated mess that no one likes).  But in this instance, the peace of mind factor alone really makes the case.

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CoachAccountable’s First Dollar

It’s exciting when something you’ve been working on a while has finally borne its first fruit.  Here, 31 days after launch, CoachAccountable has earned its first dollar with the billing of accounts whose 30 day trial has just expired.

Moreover, as I reckon my fellow coaches (whose programs and guidance touch the lives of the people they coach) will recognize, it’s exhilarating to create something of value for people.  I look forward to on the road ahead whereupon I get to build and improve on what’s already in place.

An Embarrassing Mistake

Yikes.  Two nights ago I introduced a subtle bug into the system which resulted in disabling sign up for new accounts.  No problem for existing users, problem for new ones.  Talk about a poor first impression.

To the three people who emailed to let me know of the issue I thank you for the heads-up.  To others who tried to sign up for an account today and yesterday, I apologize for the hassle and hope you’ll give it another try.  This time you’ll get what you came for in the 60 seconds as promised:  https://www.coachaccountable.com/signUp

Of Corporate Trainers and Ugly Excel Spreadsheets

Over the weekend I met a fellow who gave me a glimpse into a world of coaching that is otherwise quite uncharted by me: internal corporate training.  Now then, the internal workings of a corporate training program may as well be assumed sensitive information, so out of respect for that assumption I’ve altered particulars and paraphrased quotations a bit while still retaining the proper gist.  “Chris” is a senior sales agent, and is responsible for giving training, guidance and evaluation to a rotating cadre of other sales agents in his firm on ongoing basis.  When he asked what I do and I told him of CoachAccountable, it turned out we had a lot to talk about.

“Yeah, I’m coaching a bunch of other sales people at any given time.”  He gave me a rundown of how that coaching is managed, the center of which is a master template Excel spreadsheet that gets filled out whenever he coaches a fellow employee.  I hadn’t seen a ugly spreadsheet masquerading as software since the beloved small e-commerce company I used to work for got acquired by Network Solutions, but sure enough this was such a thing.  It was mainly comprised of few boxes into which hard-to-read notes are typed, a few pull down menus hinting that 5 is swell and 1 is strongly not swell, and a button to “lock this document” that doesn’t work but provides at least the illusion that the content is tamper proof once mutually signed off on.

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On Taking and Sharing Notes

When working with a client, a coach invariably creates and/or unearths valuable insights, plans of action, and other useful bits which pertain to what that client is ultimately up to and dealing with.  A colleague (and CoachAccountable early adopter) recently pointed out that there are many instances of coaches who do not take notes of their sessions, or,  if they do, do not share those notes with their clients.

I found this to be surprising, and then upon a moment’s reflection not surprising at all.  Surprising because for the last several months I’ve been building and evolving a system which prominently features notes as a central facet of the coaching relationship.  Then not surprising when I remembered that I myself have done months-long coaching engagements wherein notes were just not part of the mix.

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A Proper Look at a Coaching Relationship for New Users: the Demo Client

I love using CoachAccountable for managing my coaching relationships.  But I have an unfair advantage in understanding why: I have access to coaching relationships in the system that are well under way.  I see it containing data that reveals trends, hosting a comprehensive history of notes, a overall serving as a running illustration of progress.

CoachAccountable looks good as a repository of records and progress because of this, in a way that blank slate graphics stating “Click here to add your first…” simply can’t.

Today that changes.  Coaches who sign up for an account now have their account pre-loaded with data from a 4-month long running coaching relationship, giving them a real sense of how the system serves to track and document progress over time well before they otherwise could with their own clients.

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Coaching Sessions with CoachAccountable

The other day I illustrated why Metrics are awesome and how they serve coaching relationships.  Today I’m going to sketch out the ways in which CoachAccountable Sessions are great.

At the most basic level, sessions aren’t that special: a way to take notes in an editor with formatting options much like any word processor.  Even with your collection of customizable templates that serve as starting points for your note taking (the above is exactly what I use for regular weekly sessions), we’re not yet talking anything that MS Word can’t do once you’ve hammered out a few template files.

For me the magic starts about 5 minutes before a coaching call.  I log in to CoachAccountable and click on the client with whom I’m about to have a session, and this is what greets me on the overview tab:

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Why Metrics are Awesome

During the summer I’ve gone on a little about how I’m loving CoachAccountable for my coaching.  Now that it’s released and in the wild, the time is right to do some storytelling on why.

Today I’m going to talk about Metrics, CoachAccountable’s way of managing goals and progress in terms of real numbers.  Here’s an example of what a Metric that’s well in progress looks like:

Mousing over any particular point reveals annotations and where things stand relative to the target trend line.

At the most basic level, Metrics are but graphs of numbers plotted over a span of dates, nothing you couldn’t do in Excel.  But coupled with reminders, target trend lines, and annotations Metrics are so much more for guiding awareness, making goals real, and motivating progress.

Here’s how this shakes out in practice in a real coaching relationship.’

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Reminders just got better: mark Actions done and enter Metrics via email

One of the huge wins of coaching software is to keep a running record of actions and performance metrics.  It makes it easy for you to know at a glance how your client is doing (way better than burning through precious coaching session minutes getting the progress update), allows you to give insightful support based on what is and isn’t working, and gives both you and your client a tangible sense of progress and accomplishment as records accumulate.

The key to realizing these benefits is to make it super easy for a client to keep these records up to date.  Having them log in each day to record what’s new is a lot to ask, trust me.  Over the summer I built a way for my clients to update the system by responding to text reminders, for both actions and metrics.  “Just enter your cell and set up text reminders” I told them, and this worked/works swimmingly for me and my peeps.

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