Laurence Lyon stated that “strategic coaching gets people, teams, and organizations from where they are today to where they want to be tomorrow” (Goldsmith and Lyons, p. 92). Coaching is an essential strategy for leaders to use if they are to effectively facilitate change within individuals, teams and organizations.
As a learning and development professional, I have a keen interest in helping individuals, teams and organizations gain the skills and behaviors necessary to improve their performance. While I am very interested in making the training interesting, I am more interested in making sure that learning sticks; that there is real application back on the job. A common concern of training participants is that while the training has been excellent, that when they go back to pressures of their jobs, they will put the training binder on the shelf next to dozens of past training binders, and return to the same old habits they did before the training. Board and Newstrom report that on average only about 40% of the content of programs conducted was transferred to the work environment immediately after training. Worse, “only 25% was still being applied six months later, and - the true bottom line – a mere 15% was still being used at the end of a year” (Board and Newstrom, p. 7). In investigating reasons why learning is not transferred to the job effectively, Board and Newstrom state that “managers do not consistently and powerfully support the transfer of training in the work environment” (Board and Newstrom, p. 53).
Without coaching participants will only retain a small fraction of the potential learning from any training intervention. To improve the return on the training investment, coaching could be provided as a follow-up to training. This coaching can be provided by the participant’s immediate manager and/or by external coaches. However, in either case, the learning and application will be more dramatic if the immediate manager is fully engaged and behind the training and coaching effort (McGovern, et. al, p. 8). Coaching can provide the focus to sustain and enhance the learning and the key applications of the training, improving the return on training investment.
Trainers should be interested in going beyond simple post training evaluations, which mostly measure the attitudes of those attending training immediately after the training. Measures should also be made through surveys and interviews after the training in order to identify the changes in behaviors and challenges faced following the training. To apply the learning, participants should be asked to identify actions they will apply on the job as a result of the training. These items then become the action items to be coached in the months following the training. They should also interview participants at the end of the coaching period to identify how the business has improved as a result of the training and coaching.
Organizations can maximize their training investment by providing coaching as a way to help employees apply key behaviors learned in training back on the job. The application of coaching will improve learning, enhance retention and focus attention on key behaviors in order to help individuals, teams and organizations meet their goals.
Board, M. L. , and Newstrom, J. W. (1992). Transfer of learning: Action-packed strategies to ensure high payoff from training investments. New York City: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc.
Hargrove, R. A. , (2003). Masterful coaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.
Marshall, G. and Lyons, L (2006). Coaching for leadership: The practice of leadership coaching from the world’s greatest coaches. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
McGovern, J. , Lindemann, M. , Vergara, M. , Murphy, S. , Barker, L and Warrenfetz, R. , (2001). Maximizing the impact of executive coaching: Behavioral change, organizational outcomes, and return on investment. The Manchester Review, volume 6; number 1.
Magnify Leadership and Development
6232 South Vinecrest Drive
James Gehrke is the President of Magnify Leadership and Development.
After various promotions in Sales, Sales Operations, Training & Development, and Sales Management and Training, he headed Pfizer’s Learning & Development for all of Europe, Canada, Africa, & the Middle East where he was instrumental in the development of a global management curriculum and other training initiatives to enhance organizational effectiveness for over 30,000 employees. He has worked on many high levels, cross functional teams addressing issues such as Field Force Effectiveness, Change Leadership, Leader Behavior Development, Executive Coaching and many others.
Since starting his own training company, James has developed and trained both public and private leadership, coaching, targeting and territory management sessions for hundreds of participants in various industries. James is bilingual and can teach in both English and Spanish http://www.magnifyleadership.com