3 Ways Coaching Can Help You Apply What You’ve Learned

Do you remember a time when you left a training session full of valuable knowledge that you were just itching to apply? Unfortunately, when you got back to your workplace, there was a pile of catch-up work that immediately became your top priority. And time out of the office had caused your inbox to explode. And then your boss informed you about a new project you had to tackle.

When this scenario happens, despite your best intentions it’s likely the session materials—along with your new learnings—will end up on a shelf.

Does it have to be this way? No! What if you had returned to your workplace with the same pressing deadlines, and discovered that your company had assigned a coach to support you and help integrate your learnings back on the job. Wouldn’t that be helpful? You bet it would! In fact, people who get coaching to support new learning exhibit up to two-thirds more improved productivity than those who didn’t have coaching following their training.

Wondering how to get started? Here are three of the ways I work with coaching clients to help them apply what they’ve learned in class. Consider how these strategies could help your people.

  • Stop and think about development. We don’t often have someone to brainstorm with regarding where we should focus our development time. One of the first things I do is create that space and environment. This helps my client sort out and declare their development goals.
  • Recognize that it’s okay to be a learner. Most of my clients are high achievers. When they get back to work and start to apply what they’ve learned, they often wrestle with not having already mastered their new learning. Coaching can set realistic expectations and help the person embrace being a learner instead of internally berating themselves for not being an expert at the new material right from the start.
  • Set aside practice time. Clients are often tempted to abandon what they’ve just learned because it’s too time consuming or too hard. I recommend that my clients identify one or two people to initially practice with. Once the client has practiced and gained some mastery, they are more comfortable rolling out their new skills on a larger scale.

The key to successfully providing coaching to support learning is to first help class participants carve out time and then provide a safe space for them to focus on applying new learnings in the workplace. Organizations that provide coaching to support learning signal that the training is important and that the company is invested in the person’s ongoing development. It also sends a subtle signal that the organization is expecting to hold the training participant accountable to use what they have learned.

Providing coaching turns a training event into a learning process. It makes the learning stick!  Could your people benefit from some coaching to support their learning? We would love to hear your thoughts.

About the Author

Joanne Maynard headshot.jpegJoanne Maynard is a senior coach with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team.  Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.

6 thoughts on “3 Ways Coaching Can Help You Apply What You’ve Learned

  1. It’s the old been to the mountain top and return to the desert scenario. Inspired to apply what we’ve experienced and learned we return to find a rather dry and dusty environment where growth and change are not the number one priority. Choices!

    • You’re right Gary. That’s why coaching to support the learning is so valuable. It’s an oasis in the often dry and dusty environment.

  2. Yes, followup such as coaching is amazingly valuable to see any training is implemented. Teachers assigned homework for a reason! It helps prepare for the test, right? Similarly, expert trainers ask for pre- and post-sessions. These may look like added expense to the purchaser, but really, without some followup, training looks like a day off or an annoyance to participants. Pre- and Post- makes the training stick! Coaching is clearly the most effective followup. Exactly for the same reason that a little tutoring comes in handy when one is learning some pesky math! Thanks, Joanne for bringing this out.

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