Identify the core learning need. Line managers need to be trained as coaches. Identify what are the key components of the learning. In this case, there is quite a wide range, some of which is related to the underpinning skills development, e.g. communication skills (questioning, listening, giving feedback), theory (background reading, articles, identifying and practicing some tools and techniques, e.g. SMART, GROW) and practice in using the coaching process and receiving feedback.
Establish the level of demand/timescale. The company is committed to creating a coaching culture; therefore it wants to train all managers with a development program that will be delivered company-wide over a two-year period.
Recognize the different learning styles. The managers will all have different learning styles and the program needs to cater for this.
Look creatively at the potential of using different forms of learning, e.g. matching the learning need to different delivery methods and identifying the best fit. At present, a 'train the coach' program is being rolled out. The program lasts three days but take-up is limited, as it is difficult to release managers for that length of time. Therefore a blended learning approach could be an ideal solution. Construct a storyboard or flowchart detailing the key steps and the required knowledge at each step. Some of the theory could be delivered online, and could be tested with an online assessment. Video streams of coaching scenarios could be developed with observation sheets as offline support. Following the pre-work, the managers could then attend a shortened training program to practice the skills, and this could be followed up by coaching support in the workplace. Refresher material could also be available online if at any time managers wanted to go back into the knowledge components. As well as technical helpline support there could be e-mail support for queries that they might have. They could also form a support network online.
Work with the current providers, internal and external, to identify the learning objectives and to ensure that the provision meets the current need. Present the solution to the learner and refine the offering. This should be in two stages. First, the solution should be reviewed with the overall owner of the solution and matched against the original request and objectives. Second, ideally it should be piloted with a representative sample of people. Sometimes if there is a time pressure this stage can be easily omitted in the rush to implement. However even if this is the case the learning can be identified as the solution is implemented and feedback mechanisms built in. By ignoring this stage the overall solution may be less effective. Organizations and internal functions can sometimes be in too much of a hurry to present the solution in its finished state instead of recognizing the reality of creation. Time for amendments should also be built into the overall timeline.
Undertake an education process and develop a user-friendly demonstration to illustrate the potential of different types of learning. As above, recognize that there will be at least two audiences, the original sponsor of the training and the line managers themselves, as well as the trainers currently delivering the programme. All will need to be convinced of the value in undertaking a different process.
Be prepared to offer follow-up coaching support. With a reduced course component it will be important to support the managers pre-course to outline the objectives, and to be available to give support when they start putting their own coaching process into practice. Make it very clear what help is available, and distinguish clearly between technical helpline support and coaching support. Both should be readily available, particularly in the early days of implementation.
Set up a monitoring process to evaluate the effectiveness of the delivery. One of the criticisms levelled at many learning and development initiatives is that they are not effectively monitored and evaluated. This can have significant impact when the organization is trying to measure the ROI. With something as far reaching as introducing blended learning it is important to track the development, the lessons learnt and what improvements can be made. Having an internal learning management system can really help in this process.