Published on 2012/04/17

Skill Development And Coaching: A Case Study

Skill Development And Coaching: A Case Study
For new knowledge to truly stick with learners, education must be long-term and ongoing. Individual sessions will not have the lasting results workplace leaders often want. Photo by Horia Varlan.

What is the key to creating learning that sticks long after the classroom?  Even with difficult skills such as emotional competencies, the key to creating true and lasting change with the development of specific skills is ongoing coaching.  That is why our courses are a year in duration.  We have found that true behavioral shifts, where they have actually learned a skill, BEGINS at the four to five month mark.  This skill is usually pretty solid by the eight or nine month mark.  We just give it a couple of extra months.  This learning would exclude strictly technical learning (math, equations, formulas, etc) but is more related to life skills and work skills.

It is sometimes difficult to convince companies to spend the extra time and money on quality, long-term training with follow up and coaching. However, our data shows that making this initial investment yields real results and ensures you will never waste money on another 3-Ring Binder program again!  We’ve all been to those 3-Ring Binder programs where you receive your binder, take it home with high hopes of developing some skill from the course.  And what do you do with the binder?  You put it on a shelf.  Then, a year later, you need the binder, so you take it down and throw the contents away so that you can re-use it.  It’s the same in higher education.  Ask any professor the main question they are asked by students.  It is, “What do I need to know for the test?”  But if professors create a true learning environment with ongoing dialogue and follow up, they can create true learning and true change by teaching skill-sets that become part of the fabric of the student.

Take a look at the following graph.  This is a group of senior executives who took a one day program in 2004 where they were evaluated and spent the day creating detailed development plans.  But because they were only learning what their subordinates were experiencing, there was no coaching or follow up.

While this group created development plans and had the best intentions of carrying them out, because there was no coaching or follow up to help them along the way, very little change was created.  The skills that they hoped to learn were not improved.  Fast forward three years.  Because the comment I hear most from these programs is, “My boss needs to take this course, this same set of executives was put through a year-long program.  So they took the evaluation again.  The before-and-after scores hardly changed at all.  The statisticians tell me that a change in five points or so is an indication of a shift in behavior.  So statistically, they were exactly the same except they improved their flexibility and decreased their relationship skills with statistical significance.

What the data shows:

After the yearlong course where they received coaching and follow-up, they were given a second EQi at the end of the course. The difference is astounding! There are major shifts in behavior (any increase greater than 5 points) as indicated by the shifts in the numbers. In the beginning, 11 out of 17 competencies were below the mean (100). Now, 16 out of 17 competencies are above the mean! This group has made major, lasting improvements.

The proof is in the numbers! If you want to impart a skill-set and create true and lasting change in individuals whether they are students or employees, you must have ongoing learning, coaching, and follow up.

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Readers Comments

Elle Peterson 2012/04/17 at 10:15 am

I did a training seminar last year that was supposed to teach us how to use a new, complex online tool for presentations. It also included a unit (read: an hour of instruction) on actually giving that presentation.

The next day I had a pretty clear understanding of how to use it.

Four months later when I needed to use the software to give a presentation… I was asking everyone and their dog for help.

Why not make training information available for when it’s needed by employees? This way you can still do the single sessions, but they’re buttressed by a constant supply of referential information

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