The value of Coaching for an Organisation

What is the Value to an Organisation for having an embedded coaching program?

I and a number of my colleagues have been involved over the past 10 months or so in a coaching accreditation program designed to provide us with the skill and competencies to be good or better coaches.   It has involved us being coach/mentored while coaching other staff members and has been an interested experience for both us and the staff we are coaching.  More importantly perhaps it has made us look at the place that coaching has within the organisation and what is  and where does the value in a program like this sit.

Interestingly I think that perhaps when we considered this kind of program we saw the value sitting with those people being coached.  So in providing an opportunity for the staff being coached to grow and develop and become better, more fully engaged and capable members of the organisation.  This thinking has shifted, and while it is still the case that there is value and significant value sometimes for the people being coached, it seems that there is far greater value in the process of coaching and becoming a coach.  So the real value that exists is that by becoming coaches, coaching staff members and being mentored to be a better coach, we have significantly improved the capacity of our senior management cohort as well as its ability to link and communicate with our staff, which to my mind is much more substantial win than we had expected.  The value we are seeing is such that we are seriously considering ‘encouraging’ all of our senior management to become involved in the process of being a coach and being mentored through the process.

I would love to hear other people’s experience of organisational coaching, its effects and where you think the value lies.

Advertisements

Creating a Learning Culture

Creating an Organisational Learning Culture

or a framework that captures how an organisation thinks about learning can be quite challenging, if for no other reason than, there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle.  While creating or providing the strategic direction is clearly the role of executive and senior management, but how these members of articulate and reinforce that message, and what it means, needs to be as clear and as simple as possible.

So how do we create a culture in which learning is valued and promoted and seen as an integral part of the business, rather than just an add on that can be ignored, or not taken seriously.  You need to be able to show how learning functions sit with the organisation and what the purpose of creating this culture is.  As I have said before, I think that I have it a little easier than most when it comes to this as the organisation that I work for has ‘Leading through Learning’ as one of its central values, and as an L&D person that makes my job much easier when it is there in front of everyone’s face.  Having a model which explains how learning fits in and how the organisation view and seeks to create a learning culture to help immensely and serves as a way to articulating the vision for learning within and organisation;

Developing a Learning Culture

A model like this simply explains the various parts of the puzzle that lead to the development of a learning culture.  From here it then becomes an issue of expanding what each of the parts of the model mean within your particular organisation, who is responsible for them and how they are supported.

Informal Learning – Outcomes, Evaluations and Organisational Value

There has been a significant rise in the amount of discussion of Informal learning over the last few years

in no small driven I think by things like the 70:20:10 concept.  As I have spoken about in other posts  while I don’t doubt that people learn informally in the workplace, exactly how effective that learning is and how competent staff are as a result of it worries me.  One of the things that worries me is that we seem to have accepted notions like 70:2010 without having any firm evidence to back them up.  This seems to be the case with most informal learning work as well, we talk about it a lot and it sits well intuitively with everyone but I struggle to find something, some metrics or measurements that are strong enough to be able to convince the rest of the table (particularly the finance people) that there is real organisational value in  informal learning.

One of the issues for me is how do we measure the effectiveness of informal learning, how do we measure how effective it is in producing competence in staff and how do we validate that competence so we as an organisation can point to a staff member and say with some degree of certainty ‘This person is competent’.  The reason this occupies so much of my thinking is the issue of competence.  We need as an organisation to be able,  sometimes under legal proceedings that staff in particular areas were competent to carry out their activities and that they had undertaken sufficient professional development to maintain said competence.

This is difficult to achieve in my opinion with informal learning, without having to add an additional layer of assessment and validation on top of any kind of informal learning activities, which to my mind just make them formal learning anyway.

I would value everyone’s thoughts or ideas.

ASTD 2012 State of the Industry Report

Once again ASTD have released their State of the Industry Report for 2012

and as usual the figures and information contained in the are extremely interesting.  I just want to pick out a few  of the figures that really jumped out at me.

  • A 4% drop in training expenditure per employee from $1228 to $1182 between 2010 and 2011 with Healthcare having the highest spend per employee of any industry area’
  • Employee’s spent on average 30.5 hours in training over the year, which is again slightly less that last year but still substantially higher than a decade ago,
  • Direct expenditure as percentage of payroll was 3.2%, which was from 2.7% in 2010,
  • One that I find really interesting to consider is that in 2011, 29.9% of the total L&D spend was on external services and 14.3% on tuition reimbursement, with the balance being spent on internal L&D related costs, which represents a more than 10% increase in both the external and reimbursement areas, and the final one
  • The cost per learning hour rolls in at %85 (this is the cost to provide one hour of learning to one employee).

In terms of  the type of training and content;

  • the top three content areas where,
    1. Managerial and Supervisory Training
    2. Professional or Industry specific Training
    3. Business specific processes and procedures
  • Executive development, customer service and basic skills (including computer skills) were the bottom 3 areas,
  • Instructor lead training was still the most popular delivery method accounting for 59.4% of all training delivered, and
  • 68% of organisations do not make any internal learning content available via mobile devices.

So what does all of this say and mean.  Firstly it needs to be noted that the vast majority of respondents whose data is used in this report are from the US and in this years report there were substantially more large organisations represented than in previous years, however that being said I think there are some interesting discussion that could be had around the costs associated with training.  I also think the fact that Managerial and supervisory training is seen at the top area for content delivery points to the fact that lack of front-line and mid level management skills in staff are an issue for all organisations everywhere.

 

So if you have the opportunity to read through the whole report it is well worth it as it makes interesting and thought-provoking reading as always.

Niche Marketing your Organisational Learning Offerings

Niche Marketing your Internal Training To External Stakeholders

What is your core Business?  For us it is Community Services Activities, in particular crisis support, counselling, Individual support work and Suicide Prevention.  One of the challenges I had when I first came into this role was around how to fund all of the training that it was necessary to deliver (both internally and through external providers) to staff and volunteers.  This was a particular challenge for us as a substantial proportion of our income comes from the provision of services for Government, with the rest being made up through donations and other income generation where necessary.  This meant that while training was both very important and highly valued by the organisation there was a significant challenge around how to fund both a fully functioning L&D unit as well as provide access to externally provided training where it was required as the vast majority of our ‘income’ goes to the delivery of client services.

It became obvious quite quickly that there was a subset of the internal training that we ran for our staff, for example ‘Psychological First Aid‘  that possessed a commercial potential in terms of its content.  It was just packaged in a way that wasn’t necessarily appealing to a wider, external audience.  It also became obvious quite rapidly that given the high regard for and visibility of a number of our services, particularly in the counselling, suicide prevention and mental health arenas, that we were often asked by organisations to come and speak to their staff about these areas.  It was an added bonus that we were also a registered training organisation (RTO).  It also got me thinking that given it was a challenge for us, a fairly large organisation to be able to provide the necessary training to our staff that other, smaller agencies and organisation in the sector might also be facing similar if not larger difficulties.

We therefore decided to look at the prospect of commercializing the training we did internally for our staff, around our core business (and this I think is a key idea if you are thinking of doing this) and offering not only to other agencies within the sector but to organisations and businesses outside of the sector as well.  Has it been worth it; I think that it has, we have managed to build a commercial training and training consultancy business, that while not large, provides us with an income stream to supplement the funding given to us by the organisation to provide training for our staff, which in turn frees up funds for the delivery of services to clients.

So I challenge those of you in organisational L&D units and the like to think about your organisations core business and training that you deliver around that and see whether or not there is a niche market there that you can utilise.  Remember though it should be about that core business, the things that you are known for and are good at, they are the things that are going to give you the best results.  So think about it, you never know just how good your bottom line might look next year.

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) iTunesU, and Learning via YouTube

Does Online Learning Equal Competency?

I love Learning; lets get that one out of the way right from the word go.  I love to be able to look for a solution to something by searching google, then reading and article or watching a YouTube video on whatever I need to know.  I have iTunesU on my IPad, I watch Khan Academy video’s, in essence I tend to devour learning and information from whatever source I can get it.  Do I learn things by doing this – Yes I think I do.  Does this kind of Learning make me competent – I am far less sure of this one, and I guess this is where my headspace is with these kinds of courses and programs.  In most cases there is no real assessment of outcomes for the participants and where there, will they, or do they fit what employers etc might consider to be relevant outcomes.

Consider two applicants for a position one who has done a degree via traditional delivery and assessment and one who has done and equal amount of ‘online’, ‘free’ programs.  All other things being equal, (even without them being equal in my opinion) who are you going to give the job to.  I would think hands down the person with the degree and would challenge anyone to justify to me, why they would choose the other candidate.

What about recognition of prior learning, some which is a core component of the Australian VET system, do these freely available online courses count as acceptable evidence of competence or is there still further work that needs to be done, perhaps independant assessment of competence, before they are recognised?

I have a deeper issue though with this kind of learning which is one of transfer and application of skills.  Let me give you an example of what I mean.  A number of years ago I was in a training role, where after the courses had ended, clients would often contact me with a range of technical questions around some of the software that was use as part of the course (even though the course itself was not a technical course).  I quickly learnt that it was simpler for me in most cases to Google their question and give them the answer there and then, rather than  say I wasn’t sure and try and get back to them at a later date.  It kept them happy, value added to what we did, and positioned me a technical expert in a piece of software, that I actually knew technically very little about.  Was I competent; I dont think so, I never had any background knowledge about how the system worked or why some of the things worked the way they did.  I was just following the instructions of someone else.  This is not to say that I did not learn things I certainly did, but learning things does not in my opinion equate necessarily to competence, and if I am being compeltely honest most of the solutions went straight out of my head after I had given them to the client, simply because I did not need to know.  If a got multiple clients who wanted the same or very similar information I would bookmark the site or video so that I could simply go back to it when needed and pass the instructions on. The other thing that I could never understand about this situation (and this is a bit of an aside) is why clients rang me in first place, when they could have simply searched the web themselves and found the answer just as quickly as I had.

The other and final issue Ihave with all of these programs is how do we integrate them into the range of informal learning with our organisations and more importantly for me at least, how to we evaluate the learning that comes from them for both or staff and the organisation as a whole.

I would be really excited to hear any ideas that you have around this subject.

Training the Untrainable (The E-learning vs Face-to-face Dilemma)

I have been thinking a lot recently about the delivery of some of our more challenging training and professional development programs, particularly given that almost everyone these days seems to be an e-learning evangelist of some description (just Kidding) and our large and quite dispersed, regional and remote workforce.

I am not talking here about the delivery of Workplace Health and Safety compliance training, or basic computer skills, or even management and communications skills, I am talking about the hard edge training programs we run;

  • Suicide Prevention and Awareness
  • Domestic Violence awareness and intervention
  • Mental Health and Depression and
  • Psychological First Aid

to name a spectrum of them.  These are programs where there is a strong chance that at least some of the people who are attending the training will have been effected by theses kinds of trauma in one way or another, and often significant issues and reactions arise during the training.  This means that all of these programs are run on a face to face basis usually with 2 facilitators in the room, so that issues can be dealt with, without compromising the integrity of the training.

So the dilemma is, is it possible and also is it ethical and safe to utilise new technologies (e-learning) to training people in these skills, when we know that there is a certain proportion of people who are going to have adverse reactions to the materials for one reason or another.

My questions then are relatively simple does anyone know of any instances where these sorts of programs have been delivered through e-learning options successfully and how where the issues related to participant reactions handled in this environment.

%d bloggers like this: