WJM Associates: Leading Executive Development Firm Offers a "Fitbit" for Executive Coaching

Tim Morin, President & CEO, WJM AssociatesTim Morin, President & CEO
WJM Associates, Inc. a leading executive coaching company headquartered in New York City, and with over 300 coaches in 36 countries, has developed a simple-to-use smartphone app that addresses two long-standing challenges specific to executive coaching: how do we measure the impact coaching has on a leader’s effectiveness and how can we support positive behavior change in-between coaching sessions and beyond the coaching engagement?

With a touch of a button, the WJM Development Tracker™ collects feedback from managers and colleagues, and charts an executive’s progress against his or her personal coaching goals. The app also allows organizations to quantify the effectiveness of coaching over time by aggregating the progress of all leaders being coached, while protecting the anonymity of the individual executives. This enables companies to truly measure the impact of coaching – a process that is currently rather murky.

Designed specifically to use in the context of executive coaching engagements, the WJM Development Tracker™ helps the executive focus on specific goals and sends reminders to ‘deliberately practice’ new behaviors. These are behaviors that the coach and client have identified as foundational to reaching the coaching goal. The app extends the benefits of coaching beyond the bi-monthly sessions that executives typically receive, and allows them to continue cultivating new competencies after the coaching engagement ends.

“Changing habits is hard, even with an executive coach. However by leveraging technology we carry around in our pockets, we can help make new habits stick. It’s like a Fitbit for coaching,” says Tim Morin, President and CEO of WJM Associates.

Changing habits is hard, even with an executive coach. However by leveraging technology we carry around in our pockets, we can help make new habits stick. It’s like a Fitbit for coaching

The app was inspired by K. Anders Ericsson’s Deliberate Practice model, which reflects the theory that individuals become experts through repeated attention to and practice of new behaviors. By engaging in deliberate practice, one can dramatically improve his or her performance, superseding genetic or natural inclination. WJM Associates applied this concept to coaching and developed the WJM Development Tracker™ whereby practice is meant to be repetitive, guided by a coach, intended to improve specific skills, and accompanied with frequent feedback.

The WJM Development Tracker™ serves as an extension to the traditional 360-assessment process, and compensates for some of its shortcomings. This process is often characterized as lengthy, infrequent and embedded in companies’ HR departments. By contrast, executives using the app own and control the data, and can solicit and receive feedback anytime by clicking a button on their smart device. Raters receive an email with a statement tied to the exec’s coaching goal. The rater replies using a 1-10 scale and leaves a comment if they choose – an action that takes less than a minute. This unobtrusive process is designed to avoid “rater burnout”. In contrast to performance management technology, the WJM Development Tracker™ is solely for the eyes of the individual, and offers a private, safe space for executives to reflect on their development. Although users are able to forward progress charts to others by clicking a share button.

“The Millennial generation of new and soon-to-be leaders are technology-conversant and have a strong desire for frequent, specific feedback that they can act upon immediately to improve their performance,” said Morin. “This tool keeps coaching goals present in the minds of executives throughout their day, eventually rewiring neural pathways to create new, permanent changes in behavior.”