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Protecting Leadership Development Investments

My mom is a great cook! She is well known for her delicacies like pumpkin pie, hasluski (fried cabbage and noodles), refrigerator pickles, sugar beans, and homemade stuffing, to name a few. Italian dishes are not her specialty, however. She taught me a cooking lesson I’ll never forget. When you want to know if spaghetti is done, you throw it at the wall. If it sticks, it is ready and fully cooked!


This cooking lesson helps me understand the transfer of learning that needs to occur to protect our investments in leadership development.

We need to protect our investments, yet we must do better than throwing the spaghetti—I mean the training—at the wall, to see if it sticks.

So, how do we make training stick and protect leadership development investments? It would be nice to have training insurance or a guarantee that would provide feedback and confidence that participants are applying what they learned back on the job, ultimately protecting the training investment. This form of insurance does exist, but it has taken many talent development professionals and organizational leaders some time to connect the dots. This form of insurance happens when training and coaching collide.


Coaching is a useful way to develop people’s skills and abilities and boost performance and everyone, not just executives, could benefit. Coaching can also help individuals deal with issues and challenges before they become major problems. A coaching session is best defined as a conversation focused on helping coachees discover answers for themselves.


When organizations provide learners with an internal coach, the likelihood of training transfer is increased, particularly when it comes to navigating change.

In some organizations, coaching is still seen as a corrective tool, used only when things have gone wrong. However, many companies have discovered that coaching can be a positive approach to help employees explore their goals and ambitions and then achieve them. These organizations often use coaching in coordination with or after training to help ensure application and transfer of learning.


Consider providing your learners with a coach after a training session to discuss the application of what they learned. In fact, you can teach instructors and managers coaching principles, and then they can provide that post-training coaching, tailoring their conversations to each coachee based on his or her learning objectives.


This commitment leads to a coaching culture, and it requires executive support, a budget and staffing. Make sure coaching is conducted by internal or external practitioners who have been trained in coaching principles, perhaps through certification by an accredited coaching organization.


Trainers have struggled to reach James Kirkpatrick’s highest level of training evaluation (level 4), where programs result in targeted learning outcomes and contribute to business results. Learning should not stop when the training session ends.

Coaching is the answer to make training stick!

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