Over the past few years, we have had the pleasure of designing and implementing CoachingOurselves programs in organizations around the world. Many of the programs were based around the same premises: participants completed 6 CoachingOurselves sessions over 6 months, including a kick-off event to introduce the format and modules at the beginning and an evaluation at the end. What we’ve taken away from these experiences is that the success and impact of CoachingOurselves on managerial learning relies on much more than just scheduling the meetings; organizations must answer the important questions: why, who, and what?
What do we mean? To design a successful CoachingOurselves program, the following must be defined:
- Why are we asking people to participate in the CoachingOurselves program and what are our goals and the expected outcomes?
- Who will be part of the program, how will the groups be divided, who will be facilitating and coordinating the sessions, and who will be managing the overall program?
- What modules are they going to use and in what sequence?
Let’s unpack the “why”. We know, this seems like an obvious question. Every single organization has a reason for contacting us and implementing CoachingOurselves, but it’s not that simple. To truly get the most from our program and modules, organizations must delve much deeper into the root of their problems. For example, we often see groups that want to work on creating high performing teams – but why and what is truly undermining this process? Perhaps managers aren’t communicating and stepping on each other’s toes. In this case, our module on High Performing Teams would be inadequate, since the team needs to work on communication using modules such as Time to Dialog or Silos and Slabs in Organizations. Conversely, managers might just be too busy and aren’t prioritizing effective communication and would benefit from our modules Dealing with the Pressure of Managing or Managing on the Tightropes: The Inescapable Conundrums of Managing.
Answering the “why” dictates the organization’s goals and outcomes and provide the basis to evaluate the program. These goals must be clearly articulated to participants who then must buy-in and accept responsibility to achieve the outcomes and enact change. Then, there are three methods to evaluate the success of the program:
- After each session, participants articulate whether or not they felt it was a useful way to spend their time.
- Participants commit to specific actions at the end of each module and the quality and quantity of these actions can be captured and evaluated.
- Organizations can measure the impact of CoachingOurselves through A/B testing over an extended period of time with many participants. In this method, organizations look at the differences between KPIs from groups using CoachingOurselves and those who are not.
Almost as important as the “why”, is the “who”, or rather, how the organization will divide participants into groups. Each CoachingOurselves session should include 4-6 participants max and are typically comprised of either intact teams or cross functional/departmental groups. This builds on the “why” and organizers need to think back to their desired outcomes and then group participants based on what will most help them achieve these goals. There is no right or wrong way to go about this and the process relies heavily on good judgement and common sense. Our one recommendation is not to have more than one level of difference in hierarchy in each group.
Finally, organizations have to choose modules for their CoachingOurselves program. We have learned that a strong first module and closing module is imperative to the success of a program, whereas the modules in between are much less important than people expect. First and foremost, modules must be of general interest to the participants, then they must be aligned with the goals of the program, and finally, they should be related to broad organizational goals.
We have over 80 modules – how do you start choosing which ones will work for your organization? Our modules are grouped by themes and appropriateness for different management levels. Often, people get lost reading through our modules to find the perfect fit for their groups and organization. This is not only time consuming, but entirely unnecessary because people learn through dialog and reflection on the modules, unique to each group, and not the contents themselves. We recommend designers start by scanning through the titles of our modules and their short descriptions.
Organizations should select one good first module from the list below and another that feels like a good closing module and simply string together a subset of the remaining modules into a learning journey that makes logical sense. For example, if their goal is to develop or enhance innovation in the organization, and understanding that innovation often boils down to culture change, they may select a starting module that explores culture, followed by modules that help them understand culture change, and close with a module about making change happen.
We recommend the following titles as strong first modules:
- Accountability: It’s a tricky world
- Strategic Blindspots
- Silos and Slabs in Organizations
- Decision Making: It’s not what you think
- Five Ideas about Teamwork
- Managing Time and Energy
The process of answering the who, what and why may seem overwhelming at first, but it is surprisingly simple and is fundamental to our program’s success in organizations. Most importantly, the CoachingOurselves team is here to help and guide you through the process of answering these questions and choosing the correct modules to ensure your teams and organizations benefit from our peer-coaching program. For more information on CoachingOurselves and how we can help your organization, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.