By Warren Cohen and David Creelman
A solution to develop your managers that actually works? One they can be enthusiastic about and look forward to? CoachingOurselves peer group learning is the best alternative to eLearning, here’s why.
CoachingOurselves is like eLearning, but better.
Why do organizations invest in developing leaders? Simple, right? They want to improve individual and ultimately organizational performance. What specific leadership skills are needed to improve performance? That question is answered by learning and development professionals who conduct training needs analysis. But often, L&D people interpret that needs analysis as what skills leaders should learn about. Rather than learning ABOUT leadership, wouldn’t it be better to learn HOW TO BE a better manager? So how would that training be delivered?
Traditionally, organizations would send leaders to a single or multiple day, classroom-based program. Great food and drink and an opportunity to destress, sounds great, right? But leaders don’t want to give up those days to be away from work, and they’ve realized that classroom training just isn’t helping them. They may learn a few new skills and a lot ABOUT management and leadership, but they certainly won’t learn to BE better leaders in that classroom.
And that’s where today’s organizations hit a roadblock. Learning professionals thought, “If there was a way for managers to develop themselves, when, where and for how much was needed, then organizations would achieve their goals.” The solution seemed to be eLearning—but can an individual become a better leader in today’s complex and nuanced world of management by working through some exercises on their screen? Research has indicated that managers need to learn from each other, sharing experiences, ideas and feedback. As Seth Godin put it: “Learning in groups serves a crucial function… it makes learning happen.”
An alternative to eLearning is a peer group learning program like the CoachingOurselves solution developed by Henry Mintzberg. Like eLearning, peer group learning is a self-directed learning activity. However, managers are far more enthusiastic about the peer group learning than eLearning and that is one of the main reasons peer learning groups gets better results (Figure 1).
Why CoachingOurselves outperforms eLearning
CoachingOurselves is better for training on leadership
eLearning works well for certain types of training, like learning security awareness or product features. It doesn’t work well for leadership development where learning is mainly done by reflecting, observing, giving feedback, and sharing experiences.
The CoachingOurselves Solution: Create a learning space where leaders can share their insights and experiences about the new content they are learning.
CoachingOurselves is more motivating
If you examine the utilization metrics of eLearning leadership development solutions, you are in for a shock: the utilization rates are terrible. Managers just don’t find eLearning engaging enough to complete; or even to begin.
The CoachingOurselves Solution: Managers find getting together with their peers both energizing and valuable. You don’t have to cajole managers to come to these learning sessions once they’ve learned the process they’ll organize it on their own.
CoachingOurselves has organizational impact
eLearning tends to have only individual impact. As an individual activity, it never impacts the relationships, the culture or the sense of community in an organization.
CoachingOurselves Solution: Community building in an organization best begins with small groups of committed managers helping one another improve their practice of management through CoachingOurselves. The sense of community takes root as the managers in these groups reflect on the experiences they have shared in the organization. The insights generated by these reflections naturally trigger small initiatives that can grow into big strategies. As these initial teams promote change, they become examples for other groups that spread communityship throughout the organization.
Takeaway: Peer Group Learning Is Worth Piloting
It’s no surprise that today’s organization value leadership development and no surprise that classroom training doesn’t fully meet that need. eLearning was an attempt to get past the weaknesses of classroom training, and while it works for teaching basic content it turns out it doesn’t work well for leadership development. Peer group learning solutions, like CoachingOurselves, is the latest step forward in learning methodology. It’s the best solution for leadership development, and if you haven’t implemented in yet then you should definitely run a pilot to see what it can do.
About the Author:
David Creelman is CEO of Creelman Research and writes, researches, and speaks on the most critical issues in human capital management. His clients include think tanks, consultants, academics and organizations in Japan, the US, Canada and the EU. He also advises organizations on human capital management issues. He has sat on many thought leader panels with the Human Capital Institute including Global Talent Management, Learning Strategies, and the ROI of Talent Management. Lear more about David’s vast array of work at http://www.creelmanresearch.com/.
He is the author of 9 CoachingOurselves topics, including our most popular first session topic for new CoachingOurselves groups Accountability: It’s a Tricky World