Leadership

Coaching Still Just as Important, But Harder Now

Research by Mary Broad and John Newstrom, as reported in their book, Transfer of Training, establishes how critical the manager’s role is to newly trained skills actually being used on the job. The authors assert that what the manager does before and after training occurs is even more important than what the training designer or the facilitator does.

One of the most critical roles the manager plays is reinforcing new skills through coaching. Just like developing new habits, becoming proficient at new skills takes place over time. Good coaching provides not only necessary feedback, but keeps the skills in focus long enough for new habits and patterns to become established.

However, there are a number of trends in the 21st century work force that make good coaching opportunities difficult to find. For most, gone are the days when everyone worked in the same office and you had small spans of control. How do you coach people in new skills when you have few interactions with them and rarely if ever see them live to evaluate their use of a new skill?

Fortunately, the same technologies that have made possible the shifts to a more virtual workforce also provide potential solutions to this coaching need.  For example, we are able to build avatar coaches right into our elearning training programs. And these same virtual coaches can be programmed to provide timed reminders to learners after the training to review material, answer questions about a key skill, or take an “on the spot” assessment to keep the learners focused on a new skill long enough for new patterns to become established.

A growing number of our programs have asynchronous coaching options in which the learner can use video or audio to capture their skill practice session – and share it with their manager for review and feedback. While this may not have the same spontaneity of a manager walking up and observing in real-time, there are new benefits. In fact, we have found that most learners will practice a skill several times to get it right before sending the sample to their manager for review. So what it lacks in immediacy, it makes up in practice repetition and ultimately, mastery.

In the past we were often asked to create a “How to Coach” program to accompany new training. In today’s world, learning designers have to assume more of the coaching responsibility by providing the learner and the manager with the tools and opportunities for good coaching to occur.

Have questions or want to brainstorm potential strategies for putting these exciting new coaching strategies to work  in your organization? Blueline is here to help!

The Art, Science, and Practice of Coaching – Part 3

Kate McLagan continues her discussion of “The Art, Science, and Practice of Coaching.” Read Part 1: The Art of Coaching and Part 2: The Science of Coaching.

The Practice of Coaching
A recent study conducted by an international consulting firm found that one-on-one leadership coaching increased productivity by more than 80% whereas managerial training alone increases productivity by about 20%.

A teacher, instructor, or manager will be tempted to show and tell others to do something in the way he himself has been taught to do it. The coaching alternative raises awareness of the unique attributes of each individual. And, as we know, awareness empowers us!

Therefore, the Practice of Coaching centers on effective listening and providing clear and positive feedback in order to elicit that awareness.

When and where do we use coaching and for what? Here are some of the more obvious opportunities to apply coaching at work:

  • Motivating staff
  • Delegating
  • Problem solving
  • Relationship issues
  • Team building
  • Appraisals and assessments
  • Task performance
  • Planning and reviewing
  • Staff development
  • Teamwork

In today’s business environment, coaching is an essential leadership tool. To achieve the business result is one thing, to achieve it in a way in which an employee learns and develops as part of the process is of greater value.

Click here for a free white paper: Learning Coaching Techniques Through Online Simulations.

Kate McLagan has more than 20 years of business experience in various leadership and consulting roles. She has guided her clients through significant organizational change and led a variety of workforce development and performance management initiatives to achieve business objectives. Kate has significant experience in the high tech industry providing services in leadership development, change management, corporate training, executive coaching and career management execution. Kate may be reached at katemclagan@gmail.com.

The Art, Science and Practice of Coaching – Part 2

Kate McLagan continues her discussion of “The Art, Science, and Practice of Coaching.” Click to read Part 1: The Art of Coaching.

The Science of Coaching
To get the best out of people, we have to believe the best is in there. But how do we know it is? How much is there? How do we get it out?

What percentage of people’s potential manifests itself in the workplace on average? I’ve heard figures to over 70%, but the average for any group turns out remarkably often to be about 40%!

What is the reasoning behind those figures? The three most consistent answers I get are:

  • successes outside the workplace
  • effective response in a crisis
  • belief that they can be more productive

And what do you suppose the external blocks that obstruct the manifestation of individuals’ full potential are? Most frequently cited:

  • restrictive structures and practices of the organization
  • lack of encouragement and opportunity
  • prevailing management style of the company’s managers

To build a sustainable competitive advantage in this new knowledge-driven economy and rapidly changing market place, companies need continuous coaching and learning support provided to all their key employees.

Therefore, the Science of Coaching comes in learning effective people skills to understand and manage the performance potential of our employees and what motivates them at work, as well as the measurement of that work. Coaching is a way of managing, a way of treating people, and a way of thinking. If managers bear this principle in mind and act on it authentically, they will be staggered by the resulting improvements in performance. The most successful companies are focusing more on bringing out their employees’ potential in order to retain their best performers.

Tune in next week for Part 3: The Practice of Coaching.

Click here for a free white paper: Learning Coaching Techniques Through Online Simulations.

Kate McLagan has more than 20 years of business experience in various leadership and consulting roles. She has guided her clients through significant organizational change and led a variety of workforce development and performance management initiatives to achieve business objectives. Kate has significant experience in the high tech industry providing services in leadership development, change management, corporate training, executive coaching and career management execution. Kate may be reached at katemclagan@gmail.com.

The Art, Science, and Practice of Coaching – Part 1

Blueline is delighted to introduce guest blogger Kate McLagan. Over the next three weeks, Kate will define “The Art, Science, and Practice of Coaching.” Read on for Part 1: The Art of Coaching.

Coaching has been a buzzword in business for some time now. Historically, the evolution of coaching has been influenced by many fields of study such as personal development, adult education, psychology, and sports. In the last few decades, learning and development have become critical features of businesses and organizations as they confront rapid changes in the global marketplace. The traditional training model is being challenged on the grounds that is does not result in sustained behavioral change. Today, coaching for business and public institutions is multiplying at an extraordinary rate.

So, what is coaching?

Coaching is the act of providing positive support and feedback through focused learning to an individual (or group) in order to help them recognize ways in which they can improve their effectiveness in the business.

In addition to defining what coaching is, we must also look at what coaching is not. Giving advice, judging, counseling, therapy, managing, mentoring, and training are not the same as coaching.

Part 1: The Art of Coaching
Contrary to some attractive claims in, for example, The One Minute Manager, there are no quick fixes in business! Good coaching is a skill or an art that requires a depth of understanding and plenty of practice to deliver its potential.

Coaching is essentially a conversation or a dialogue between a coach and a coachee within a productive, results oriented context. Coaching involves helping individuals access what they know, unlock potential, identify and define goals, and facilitate growth and development.

The Art of Coaching comes in energizing, inspiring and guiding the coachee through:

  • Questioning effectively. The art of questioning generates awareness and responsibility.
  • Listening. Hear their tone of voice, read body language, reflect back and summarize points, and “listen” for self-awareness.
  • Observing. This step is essential to know when to check in, facilitating the process further along and looking for honesty.

Tune in next week for Part 2: The Science of Coaching.

Contact us at Blueline for a free 5-day trial of Mastering Management: Coaching.

Kate McLagan has more than 20 years of business experience in various leadership and consulting roles. She has guided her clients through significant organizational change and led a variety of workforce development and performance management initiatives to achieve business objectives. Kate has significant experience in the high tech industry providing services in leadership development, change management, corporate training, executive coaching and career management execution. Kate may be reached at katemclagan@gmail.com.

Increase your EQ (Emotional Intelligence) through Simulation

In some of our recent blog posts we’ve explored the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and how your EQ may be even more important than your IQ at predicting success. So, is your Emotional Intelligence Quotient like your Intelligence Quotient — you have what you are born with and nothing is going to change that? Fortunately, the answer is a resounding no! You can very much develop and increase your EQ long past childhood.

The question is how? And within the context of business, how can I use EQ to increase success for my organization and me?

It all begins with the three keys to enhancing your EQ — Awareness, Observation, and Reflection.

The first step is to become aware of the dynamics of EQ and how they operate. Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management provide the critical bedrock for your observations and reflections. Basic awareness can be established in simple ways: by reading a book about EQ, doing Internet research or completing any one of a myriad of training programs.

But being aware is just a first step.  Just like any other muscle in your body, EQ must be exercised to grow. No one’s biceps ever got bigger by reading a book on weight lifting. And the best way to exercise your EQ is through observations and reflections.  These require life experiences. The basic premise is that you must observe yourself (and others) and look for patterns, insights, and lessons that you can apply in similar, future experiences. As you apply the insights and lessons you learn, you raise your EQ.

From a business perspective this can be a bit of a problem. How do we help people develop their EQ without them having to “learn from experiences on the fly?” Is there a way to exercise the EQ muscle “safely” rather than in a critical team meeting or during a call with a vital customer?

Actually, this can be accomplished through well-designed simulation experiences that provide realistic opportunities to practice observe and reflect. Obviously, for these experiences to provide real value, they must model realistic scenarios. For example, a salesperson needs to practice observing and reflecting after a simulated call on a customer, and a manager needs to practice observing and reflecting on simulated supervisory and leadership scenarios

Blueline is effectively using custom simulations to build awareness, and to provide opportunities for rich observations and reflection in “safe” environments. Here critical insights, lessons and behaviors can be developed and even practiced before they are needed in high-stress, mission critical situations.