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3 Ways to Incorporate Coaching for Better Learner Engagement and Satisfaction

Thursday, October 1, 2020
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If you are looking for a way to make your training more engaging and practical for your learners, think about incorporating coaching techniques into your training. Coaching, as defined by the International Coaching Federation, is “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Usually coaching is performed in a one-on-one setting with a trained coach and a client. However, some coaching techniques can be adapted for training. Here are three ways to incorporate coaching methods into your classroom or online training.

1) Ask Powerful Questions and Encourage Level 3 Listening

The two foundational methods of coaching are asking powerful questions and listening closely to the answers. During a coaching session the coach uses questions to help the client discover their own solutions to their challenges. A good coach does not give advice or tells the client what to do. Powerful questions are open-ended ones that encourage the client to reflect on their answers.

During a training session, try a few powerful questions to test for understanding by the learners. You can encourage the other learners to use Level 3 Listening to reflect on the answers. In Level 2 Listening, students will focus on the speaker and their words. Level 2 Listening is vital to understand what is being said. In Level 3 Listening, the listeners pay close attention to what is being said as well as the context surrounding conversation.

Using powerful questions and Level 3 Listening encourages engagement and invites learners to contribute to their learning and the other students’ learning.

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2) Use Coaching Models to Structure Training Session

Coaches use various models to help structure coaching sessions. The most popular model is GROW, which focuses on goals, current reality, options, and what’s next. Another popular model is CREATE, which examines the current reality, explore alternatives, and tap into energy. The coaching models guide the powerful questions and move the client toward taking concrete action.

So, how can we use a coaching model in a training session? Let’s view a sample training session structured using the CREATE model. First, we have the learners explore the current reality of a situation. For a leadership development course, learners can examine the current reality of their supervisory skills. Then, invite the learners to explore alternatives for developing new supervisory skills. Finally, tap into the energy created by the training to motivate the learners to put their development plans into action.

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3) Have Learners Use Coaching in Case Studies

When I am coaching, and the client seems hesitant or stuck, I invite them to pretend they are helping someone else with a similar issue. For example, if the client is unsure of the next step in their career, I ask the client how they would advise a person in a similar situation. Shifting the perspective often helps the client become more creative.

In training sessions, I like to use case studies to demonstrate key concepts. To help the students internalize the lessons, I invite students to play the coach and tell me how they would support the participants in the case study to resolve the challenge. What can be incredibly engaging is inviting several of the learners to debate options that the case study participants can take.

The Power of Coaching

Coaching is a powerful method for helping people discover solutions to their challenges. Clients that create their own solutions are more likely to follow through with implementing their solutions. Using coaching methods in training can help participants create their own learnings, which they will more likely remember and act upon.

About the Author

Bill Brantley works in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Enterprise Training Division. He has been the program manager for the Emerging Leader Program and Supervisor Certificate Program. He currently manages the Career Coaching Program.

Brantley was awarded the 2019 Emerging Training Leader by Training Magazine and is IPMA-HR SCP, Certified Professional in Learning and Performance, and a Certified Professional in Training Management.

He also is an adjunct faculty member for the University of Louisville (20 years) and the University of Maryland, and is the author of the Persuasive Project Manager (2019) and Four Scenarios for the Future of the Federal Government (2019).

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