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Using Coaching to Increase the Effectiveness of Executive Development Programs
An effective methodology for combining formal classroom training with coaching occurs when the coach is an instructor or facilitator in the classroom portion of the program. When follow-up action
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plans are included in the program design, coaching in conjunction with the plans creates the continuity between the classroom and the on-job experiences.
Another helpful methodology occurs when the coach serves as a team facilitator during breakout sessions. Under this scenario, the role played by the coach is established early for the participants. At the same time, the coach gains an understanding of the programís purpose and principles and gets to know the participants. The coach also has the opportunity to see the interactions of the individual or the team. This information can prove to be very useful for the coach during the follow-up period, which may rely heavily on telephone rather than face-to-face interactions. The coach can use the insights gained from the face-to-face interactions to guide the individual and the team. If there is no opportunity to involve the coach in the classroom portion of the program, then it is important to find a way to provide the coach with the understanding of what had occurred during the initial program experience.
Advantages of Incorporating Coaching into an Executive Development Program
Coaching reinforces the learning objectives. When the program design includes the assignment of coaches to an individual or to a team, there is a greater likelihood that there will be a strong focus on the developmental objectives. As the team goes about its various activities, the coach can help to keep the team focused on the programís learning objectives or goals. The coach can point to particular events or situations that represent an opportunity to extract new learning points.
Coaching can help the individual achieve developmental goals. Sometimes the mere presence of a coach ensures that the development action plans created during the formal session will more likely be completed. Motivation can be enhanced when the individual knows that a coach has been assigned, and there is the presence of another party requiring accountability.
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Coaching assists with complex, long-term learning. When the information to be acquired is relatively easy and less complex, then learning can be accomplished in a relatively brief timeframe. However, the more complex the desired knowledge, systems, or information, then the more time may be required for understanding and learning to take place. Multiple experiences under different circumstances may be necessary for the individual to recognize and ultimately achieve mastery. These experiences can be reinforced repetitively by the coach, whose role it is to generate discussion and reflection when needed.
The Importance of Adhering to a Process
A coaching process for executive development programs is just as important as one for individuals who are not in such programs. The steps in the process of incorporating coaching into executive development programs are similar to the steps to be taken in other coaching situations. They involve contracting, initial goal setting, assessment, action planning, and evaluation. This process can be followed even when there are large numbers of participants and multiple coaches, as is the case in executive development programs.
The coaches must understand what the executive development program is about. It is critical to the success of the program to provide a document that outlines the purpose of the program and what is to be achieved during the follow-up period in which coaching services are provided. This document should also contain items related to timeframes, number of coaching hours, and estimated end dates.
Initial Goal Setting
The desired outcome of the development program and coaching process must be made very clear to all stakeholders. This is especially true when the coaching is done for a team of people. All members of the team have to have clarity about their purpose, the end goal, and the role of the coach.
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Many programs now include assessments that increase clientsí selfawareness and enable them to better understand how they are perceived by others. It is very important that the assessments fit into the overall purpose of the program and that the clients understand the rationale for including them. The most powerful executive development programs enable clients to learn how they can achieve business results by increasing their efficacy as leaders.
Very often the coach is asked to assist the individual in implementing the action plans that have been generated in the formal classroom training. There is a greater likelihood that the action plans will be successfully implemented if accountability has been built into the process. Generating sound action plans that have been created by the individual ensures that the coaching process will result in successful business results.