Equipping Managers to Coach Sustainable Behaviour Change

We all have a natural inertia, an in-built resistance to change, and nowhere is that more evident than in the world of learning and development. For countless times and in countless scenarios, L&D projects fail to deliver the long-term, permanent change you are seeking. Why?

Assuming the content is sound (it usually is) and the learners are engaged (they usually are), why do all the good intentions generated in the training evaporate when we get back to the real world?

Because training is not enough

A day or so in the classroom, or a few hours online, may lay the foundation for change, but it needs to be transferred to the real world, often enough and for long enough to become embedded and to deliver the performance improvements you want. It needs to stick, and learners can’t do that on their own. They need support; they need coaching.

Of course, you knew that already. So why doesn’t it happen? Because coaching is difficult; it takes time, it requires skills, it needs planning and it may involve difficult conversations. And it’s usually done by managers whose main role is anything but as a coach. Hardly surprising it doesn’t happen.

What can you do about it?

How do you turn managers who have other responsibilities, limited motivation, variable skills and no time into effective coaches?

You systematise it. You create processes and tools and weave them into the everyday routine of the managers’ day. You make it easy and you make it simple. What does that look like? What should an effective coaching process include?

  • Embed the learning: It’s fundamental your process focusses on encouraging the behaviours you want to change.
  • Common language: Being a coach can be a lonely place. By giving your coaches a common language, you enable peer to peer discussion, support and learning.
  • Coaching support: Your managers are probably not natural coaches, they need help to bring the right skills to bear. Your process must provide them with the help they need.
  • Improved communication: Coaching conversations can be difficult and a clear understanding of how the other party is motivated, and how to address them appropriately, is critical. Your process must support better conversations.
  • Integrate with your coaching model: If you’ve struggled with making learning stick you may have tried to implement a coaching model in the past. Don’t disregard it, use your process to revitalise it.
  • Embed the process: Your process should fit within your wider management ethos and become a seamless part of your overall business processes.
  • Use it in real time: If a process is to work, it should be part of work, not an extracurricular activity. Make your coaching process part of everyday life.
  • Make it real: This is not an exercise in theory, the process should be hands on, pragmatic and entirely relevant to the learners’ roles.

It’s quite a list but done properly you will create a culture where every change initiative and learning project will deliver your desired outcomes on time, in full, every time.


If you would like to know more about creating sustainable behaviour change, please contact Personal Strengths on 01780 480102.

Lisa Graham, Director of Client Relationships
Lisa has years of experience helping clients to implement and sustain performance improvement projects on a global scale. Her areas of expertise include, leadership, team management, relationship management, conflict management, culture change, sales and negotiation. She works closely with her clients throughout all the phases of the training cycle.


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