Can “Application Coaching” Improve Your Leadership Development Strategy?

Lately we’ve seen an increase in the number of projects involving what we call “Application Coaching,” or Integration Coaching, with clients of all sizes. Application Coaching is one-on-one coaching support, provided to participants of leadership development programs, to reinforce the learning as participants apply it in the workplace.

Savvy organizations invest significantly in the development of their current and future leaders. Development of employees attracts and retains top talent while ensuring the future success of the organization. But training alone may not be enough. 

One famous and highly-referenced study by the International Personnel Management Association (IMPA) found that providing training alone increased productivity by 22% yet adding follow-up coaching to the training increased productivity by 88%.   

It has been my experience, and it seems logical, that when people apply what they have learned to real work challenges, they are much more likely to embrace and maintain the new habits or skills. A coach acts as an impartial third party whom trainees can talk and turn to for guidance in applying the newly learned behaviors. Coaches also possess the skills and background to assist participants in developing their own action plans and goals for success. Adding the one-on-one support and knowledge of an experienced coach means that the lessons learned in training are more likely to be adopted for the long run.

When it comes to successful investments in Application Coaching, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. The leadership development strategy needs to support the business strategy. An excellent source to help with this is the white paper, “Developing a Leadership Strategy - A Critical Ingredient for Organizational Success,” by William Pasmore from the Center for Creative Leadership.
  2. The coaches selected for the engagement need to know the training materials inside and out to reinforce the learning. In some cases, it may make sense for the trainer to serve as a participant’s coach since they have a greater understanding of the lessons being taught.
  3. Executive leadership needs to be involved. Participants need to understand why they are attending, and the boss needs to be part of setting the goals for the program. Additionally, leadership plays an important role to reinforce the new behaviors during the Application Coaching.

Application Coaching is a great way to ensure a stronger return on your investment in leadership development initiatives that support the future success of your organization. Can you really afford not to add Application Coaching to your leadership development strategy? 

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