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Coaching Examples in the Workplace
Submitted by Leslie Allan on May 21st, 2014
Once your training program has been delivered to your employees, providing post-training coaching support is an excellent way of ensuring that your employees overcome roadblocks to using their new skills on the job. Some employees may need to develop more confidence, others may be facing organizational impediments and some may be stuck on where to apply the skills. Yet others may just need some more practice with a guiding hand. A coach can help in all of these scenarios.
For maximum impact, you will need to choose the right coach for your situation. Your choices here include conscripting the participants’ manager, the course trainer, a subject matter expert, an internal employee, an external contractor or the training participants’ peers. I invite you to use my article on things to consider when selecting a coach to help you make your choice.
Once you’ve chosen your coach and have ensured that they have the appropriate coaching skills, you might be wondering how best to use them. I’ve drawn upon the experiences of three different organizations to illustrate how coaching can be used in a variety of post-training scenarios.
My first example concerns an accounting firm that had unsuccessfully rolled out harassment prevention training. After the training course had finished, the owners realized that they needed to do more to create a harassment free workplace. Their single-point solution – rolling out classroom-based training – proved insufficient to prevent an expensive lawsuit that had been looming for some time.
An important component of their revised solution involved the Human Resources Manager acting as coach to the newly appointed Harassment and Discrimination Officer. Here, the Manager agreed to attend the first few interviews and mediation sessions until they were confident that the sessions were being conducted efficiently and professionally.
In addition, the firm conscripted the external training vendor that had conducted the original training sessions to provide telephone support to the Officer in her new role as required. The Officer was also encouraged to join the local chapter of the national human resources association and to contribute actively to the employee discrimination and bullying Special Interest Group. As you can see, in this instance, coaching was provided in three different ways: manager as coach, external telephone coaching and peer support.
My second scenario revolves around a consumer electronics company that had implemented a new inventory management system. In this case, the classroom training conducted for the warehouse and production planning department employees was later supplemented with task and role analyses and new procedures. Nonetheless, the new software and inventory management methods proved daunting to many employees.
To assist employees apply the skills they learned in the classroom, the company nominated one “Black Belt Expert” in each of the two departments to act as a contact person for all questions and challenges. Each of the experts was chosen principally for their communication and interpersonal skills. Spurred by the pride they took in being selected as an “expert”, they quickly worked to overcome any technical deficiencies they had. Their expertise was further developed through having to prepare monthly sessions, to be delivered in the canteen. These were a kind of “tips’n’tricks” session in which people could also bring their latest questions for discussion. This is an excellent illustration of two complimentary ways that training participants’ peers can be used to support employees back on the job.
My last example involves a mechanical repair shop in which a hierarchical management structure was replaced by self-managing teams. A Working in Teams training program was rolled out to facilitate this change. Not only was this change pervasive, impacting every aspect of the company, it also meant a fundamental change to the working life of shop floor staff and managers alike. Over the years, everyone had grown accustomed to a “command and control” management style, so moving to a participatory style shook some people to the core.
For this reason, the owners were careful to set up ongoing workplace support for all involved. The training vendor was asked to provide individual coaching support for the new Team Leaders. This took the form of one hour coaching sessions arranged monthly. The vendor was also asked to provide a facilitator to attend each team meeting. The purpose here was for the facilitator initially to observe in a passive role and then to encourage the team to reflect on team dynamics. The facilitated sessions became less frequent as each team developed the skills to reflect and regulate their own behaviors.
For managers having to give up much of their authority to the new structure, they were also provided with individual coaching sessions by the training vendor. And likewise, once per month, a facilitator would attend the weekly management team “ops meeting” to discuss potential and real roadblocks and to review progress. This example once again illustrates a multi-faceted approach, with a mix of individual and team coaching sessions at multiple levels in the organization’s hierarchy.
Whatever your training program, if you are serious about improving performance, engage at least one kind of human support back in the workplace. People are people, and where trainee motivation following a training program is lacking, words on a page and automated help systems are no substitute for human interaction. When employees face personal frustration, the positive encouragement that results from an impersonal email from the CEO trumpeting the benefits of the latest change shrink in comparison with hearing that voice that says, “Hi, I’m here to help you.”
Whether it is with the training participant’s manager, the trainer or an external coach, or through active participation in a professional association or online forum, discussing live issues with interested individuals will keep up the employee’s enthusiasm and commitment to applying their new skills for the betterment of the organization.
Have you implemented some kind of coaching support in your organization? Or perhaps you have received coaching support? What have been your experiences? Let us know what has worked best for you.
Find out more about supporting your employees back on the job for improved performance. Check out Leslie Allan’s high impact training guide, From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance. Learn proven strategies and techniques for finding performance roadblocks, aligning training to real needs, developing training partnerships, engaging learners and maximizing learning transfer to the job. Find out more about From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance and download the free introductory chapter today.