The role of the L&D practitioner is changing to adapt to the shifting learning landscape. While face-to-face learning is still a key part of a blended learning solution, assuming the role of coach provides a way to support and encourage learners throughout independent learning journeys.
Coaching is regularly seen as a personal and face-to-face process. This is great if you regularly have one-to-one meetings in the workplace and are part of a solid coaching culture. But what if your learning programs are mostly digital? How can you support your coaching strategy using your LMS?
The great news is, it doesn’t have to be mission impossible if you know how to maximise the tools within your learning platform and get the right people on board.
1. Get clear on your reasons for coaching
Before you begin, you need to identify the primary goals you want to use coaching to achieve. For example:
- Is it to help develop talent for a colleague wanting to move up to a higher role within the organisation?
- Is it to improve the skills of your customer service team to boost customer satisfaction scores?
- Is it to help a member of management to become a better leader?
Clearly state these objectives and identify whether coaching can provide a suitable solution. This will help you map your objectives to capabilities within the learning system.
2. Use communications tools and digital body language to build rapport
The key difference between face-to-face coaching and online is the reliance on technology. It’s easy to build rapport face-to-face, but how can you do that virtually? Do you risk losing the ability to build trust without physical presence?
Clearly establishing expectations and outlining responsibilities will give clarity to both parties in a coaching session. Make sure everybody is confident with using communications tools – for example, does the coachee know how to use the messaging function to contact if necessary? Is there an appointment booking calendar that can be used for scheduling? Do people know how to use discussion boards to ask questions or share links? Is there a way to create and set assignments for after the session? It’s important that communication is free-flowing to ensure the coachee always feels supported.
Pay attention also to something called ‘digital body language’ – this is especially important for when cameras are not used. Note any digital behaviours that will help you determine engagement during and after coaching sessions. For example:
- Is the coachee spending sufficient time exploring recommended content within the LMS? At what times of day are they most active on the platform?
- Are they completing assessments?
- What topics are they most skilled at and are there any areas that need a little more work?
This is where the right learning technology can help you recognise where your coaching strategy could be improved. As part of a blended learning approach, your online tools can complement face-to-face sessions to provide deeper insights that you may otherwise not have had.
Thinqi is the perfect example of how a digital library (or ‘informal learning library’) can help you to overcome the challenges of curating and sharing learning content in a way that encourages collaboration. The challenge of independent e-learning is isolation, so Thinqi’s smarter learning platform gives its users access to a community of peers. This in turn enables them to share, reflect and discuss the learning material using communication tools such as forums, comment threads and real-time chat facilities.
Perfect for encouraging social learning and discussion between coaching sessions.
3. Create and curate a digital library of learning content
Your learning system is your central hub for a wealth of high-quality learning content. With content creation and curation tools, you can assign resources as part of a personalised development plan. The beauty of this is that learning is kept relevant and you are afforded the flexibility to add new learning content as required.
Take Thinqi’s ‘Playlists’ feature, for example. This allows users to bring content from different sources together quickly and easily, combining them into a single piece of learning content. This is achieved through an easy-to-use search function and a simple drag and drop tool, meaning that anyone can become a curator of their own knowledge. The learning material can be accessed at any time and anywhere, so learners can work on their development at a time and place that suits them best.
It’s a handy way to put that train commute to good use.
4. Track progress
Gathering the right data from the outset is key to informing your decisions on the best course of action. It also allows you to track whether the current coaching strategy is working.
- What are your primary goals and objectives?
- What do you hope coaching will achieve?
- What sort of data will help in demonstrating progress associated with these goals?
Analytics and reporting tools in your learning system will allow you to pinpoint individual strengths and weaknesses. Identifying specific problem areas can help build competency, remedy skills gaps, and support people to reach their full potential. For example, line managers or team leaders can have visibility of those they manage so they can track individual progress both before and after coaching.
This helps to determine whether assessment scores are improving as a result of the coaching activity.
5. Motivate learning behaviours with award, reward and recognition
Whether it’s winning a medal on school sports day, earning a swimming badge, getting great exam results or passing a driving test, there will have been plenty of times in your life where you worked hard to achieve a particular goal.
However, as working lives become increasingly busy, it’s not always as easy to motivate people to spend time on their own development.
For coaching to be truly effective, people need to be engaged and motivated to improve. Your learning system can provide an effective way to nurture talent by recognising and rewarding achievement – a critical building block of any solid culture of learning.
Thinqi allows you to create learning pathways that reward both knowledge and skills, ranging from course completion to event attendance. Achievements are then recorded in the learner profile and can be shared to demonstrate success and progression.
Used to its advantage, your learning system can accommodate coaching extremely well thanks to collaborative features and tools. Combined with face-to-face sessions, it’s the perfect way to embed a culture that values both coaching and learning.
So long as everyone is clear on goals and objectives and can communicate and collaborate, your learning system can help your coaching strategy become more successful than ever.
Empower and support modern learners with Thinqi's smarter learning system. Contact us to arrange a free demo.