Coaching to Support Learning: 3 Best Practices

January 10, 2017 Joanne Maynard

CoachCoaching to support learning is a process that gives learners a chance, after training, to go back to their jobs and practice using the concepts they just learned. Providing employees with two or three 1-hour coaching sessions creates an actual learning process instead of just a training event.

This extra step is important in today’s busy work environment. Many organizations don’t have the resources to provide managers the time to grow and develop their people. And employees often don’t have enough room in their schedules to practice training concepts when they get back to work.

Done right, coaching to support learning sends employees a clear-cut message: Your leaders believe training is important—and we want to provide you with the support you need to be able to apply your new learnings back on the job.

Here are three best practices to provide coaching that supports learning in a way that works.

  • Support and reinforce behavior change after learning new skills. Post-training coaching sessions keep training concepts top of mind for a much longer period of time. During coaching, participants choose one, two, or three of their newly learned skills they believe would benefit most from practice. The skill(s) they select become the focus for their ongoing development plan.
  • Support learners in taking action and using training concepts back on the job. Coaching provides the gift of time and space as well as a neutral partner to help them think through how to practice and implement what they learned in training. So that their new learning doesn’t feel overwhelming, coaching participants are encouraged to begin their new skill practice on a small scale, choosing one or two trusted colleagues to practice with. During coaching, participants strategize with their coach exactly what they will practice and with whom. Once the person is more confident, their new skills can be rolled out more broadly.
  • Create a learning lab environment where employees can safely review and practice training concepts. Confidential coaching allows employees the opportunity to define their own customized learning plan—to declare how they are going to structure their own development. It allows employees to define a customized approach to their learning.

Looking back on training you have received in the past, try to recall how much information you retained and were able to apply on the job after training. How might things have been different if you had reviewed the training content every few weeks—with someone who was solely interested in supporting you in utilizing what you learned? We’d love to hear your thoughts!


About the Author

Joanne Maynard

Joanne Maynard is a Senior Coach for The Ken Blanchard Companies. She is a frequent contributor to Blanchard’s LeaderChat blog. Joanne completed the Advanced Corporate Coaching program at Coach U, and received her Associate Certified Coach credential from International Coach Federation.

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