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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

Chapter 7: Coaching the New Learners


In every new application of knowledge it is important to think about the essence of the message, to distil it through the coaches, implement, monitor and follow up.

What businesses need is both consistency and personalization. As a customer I want a service that I recognize as consistent but that is also personal to me. The level of personalization depends on the service, but essentially it is at the interface of the transaction that it is critical to get it right. Workplace coaches have that opportunity to ensure the consistency of the learning and development experience while at the same time personalizing it to match the learner's style.

Advances in technology mean that the learning can be delivered in a variety of ways and provide a richness in the learning experience. The whole process can be underpinned with some simple questions:

  1. What knowledge and skills do the different groups of our employees need to develop?

  2. What behaviours and attitudes do we need them to demonstrate?

  3. What products and services are we offering our customers?

  4. How can we ensure that we have the right people in the right place with the right knowledge?

  5. What tools and mechanisms do we have to underpin the knowledge transfer?

The learning can be provided through any of the following:

  • Web-enabled or paper-based information;

  • audio-visual information;

  • presentations, demonstrations, practical sharing of information;

  • face-to-face coaching support;

  • classroom or team-briefing training sessions;

  • assessment or profiling systems to identify preferences and capability;

  • regular feedback, to measure progression from an individual, team or organizational perspective.

What is important is that the learning is relevant. The learning should help the learners adopt and practice the behaviours and attitudes to help transform the organization. It should be focused on all levels of the business. If the business wants well-motivated, adaptable individuals it should present a model of organizational change similar to the one highlighted in Chapter 4 and commit to creating the support at all levels to enable change to happen. In this context learning and development can be simply measured. Is this course, learning program or activity either going to support the business as it transforms its performance or going to enable the individual learner to develop the right skills, knowledge, attitude or behaviour to enable him or her to develop his or her full potential?

In supporting a program of transforming performance it is even more important that any development is fit for the purpose. What is amazing is that in some organizations the T&D function is sometimes the last to be involved in the process and so continue to run programmes where the delegates arrive having been told a few days earlier that they are being made redundant, or where they question the relevance of the training. If learning and development is to be seen as an important part of transforming performance then the learning and development department has to be seen as a credible business partner. In Chapter 1 this was discussed in more detail, but it is particularly important when looking to establish new ways of learning.

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