Sustaining the Change

The only way to learn to ride a two-wheeler is to ride. Training wheels and instruction tips are helpful, but practice, practice, practice is key to success.

Businesses invest considerable amounts in training programs, either importing experts or sending people off to outside seminars to develop management skills. Unfortunately, the research shows that they don’t retain a lot of what they learned. Coaching, along with training and/or as a follow up, has huge impact on sustaining the benefits of the training. Like riding the two-wheeler, coaching helps focus on taking action…practice.

Coaching helps make the training relevant to the work at hand…it helps put new learning into practice. Coaching dialogs encourage aligning training content, business goals, and the individiual’s job performance. It also allows the coachee to explore a variety of applications of what they are learning. The coach can “reframe” to invite the coachee to consider new options, potentially maximizing the impact of new skills.

For example, a sales manager might have taken a negotiation workshop to improve her skills back on the job. Coaching could help her expand her vision to apply her new skills to her role in managing a difficult team. Her coach could guide her to consider how she can use some of her new negotiation techniques to help her team work more collaboratively.

Or, let’s say another manager has just completed a project management seminar. He knows the drill as far as planning and milestones are concerned, but he has issues managing his time effectively. Coaching could help him identify how his difficulty managing his time might impact his project management, and the coach could work with him to improve his prioritizing and delegating skills. As a consequence, he will be more effective in staying on course with projects…a double ROI.

The listening-and-questioning dynamic of coaching can help people recognize gaps in their learning and where and how particular skills can be used most productively. The payoff is that coaching can help the learning stick. The training wheels come off, and riding becomes second nature.

How has coaching helped you sustain new behaviors, apply new skills, and maximize the benefit of training you’ve experienced?

If you found this post helpful, check out “About the Book” on this blog, and order yourself a copy of “What could happen if you do nothing?” A manager’s handbook for coaching conversations.