We’ve been doing a number of projects lately on what we call Application Coaching, a.k.a. Integration Coaching, with clients large and small. Application coaching is when you provide 1:1 support to the participants in a leadership development program. A study by the International Personnel Management Association found that the value from training increases from 22% to 88% when training is supported by coaching.

It has been our experience, and it seems like good common sense, that when you help people apply what they have learned to real work challenges they are much more likely to develop those new habits and skills that leaders need to be successful. The difference a coach makes is that people have an impartial third party to talk to who has the skills and background to help them come up with their own action plans, and are therefore 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 this white paper by William Pasmore from the Center for Creative Leadership.
  2. The coaches need to know the material inside out. In some cases, it may make sense for the coach to also be the trainer.
  3. The Boss needs to be involved. Participants need to understand why they are attending, the boss needs to be part of setting the goals for the program and play an important role during the application coaching.