As learning and development experts who had designed hundreds of
workshops and seminars and conducted as many leadership, coaching,
feedback, and management training programs, we were feeling frustrated that our "good work"
wasn’t always making the difference it should make. So we asked
ourselves if there was something
that could be done that would really improve results and
performance and thereby revolutionize the "standard" approach to
learning and development.
A Breakthrough Approach
What we concluded prompted us to develop
-- a breakthrough solution that answers questions pertaining to learning
and development such as
Can we use
technology to help people with typical performance challenges to
perform and contribute at the highest levels possible -- like the
help live coaches successfully provide every day?
How do we make
certain the training we do is effective – and that it delivers an
appropriate return on our training investment?
How can individuals
get the coaching and feedback they need to actually use skills on
the job, and hence develop competence in new skills?
How can we best
teach and support the use of competencies associated with emotional
intelligence such as self-awareness, social skills, empathy, and
others that research consistently suggests make the true difference
between average and star performance?
How can we give
people opportunities to get support when they need it -- not just
when their managers or coaches are available?
How do we help
people to use the Internet, organizational intranets, and other
technology to approach learning differently and interact
effectively with others?
e-coach is needed today because increasing changes in the
workplace and fewer workers to do the work have created ever-growing
needs for people with broader and stronger skills. Companies have
responded to these needs by spending increasing amounts of money on both
technical- and interpersonal-skills training. Despite this increase in
spending, however, many programs have failed to make a real difference
in competencies and performance.
The reasons for this shortfall are varied and complex. One reason is an
overemphasis on technical training that assures skills required for
threshold competence but does not provide everything that is needed for
workplace success. Other reasons include inadequate feedback, no
opportunity to practice new skills on the job, and an organizational
culture that doesn’t provide support for learning.
The need for more support is not new. Human support – the kind provided
by coaching and active reinforcement -- has always been an important
adjunct to effective training, and many consultants, including
ourselves, have routinely recommended it. We suggest that trained
managers supplement training by being available to coach, structure
follow-up learning opportunities, and support further learning and the
use of new skills on the job.
Another reason why e-coach is needed – perhaps an even more compelling
one – is related to the typical performance management process.
While most organizations have some type of performance management
program, it typically focuses on goal setting and assessment. It
does not usually include a “formal” component for providing active
support for individuals throughout the performance cycle – when work is
actually performed and active support is essential.
The publication of Working With Emotional Intelligence
(Goleman, 1998) gave new urgency to the need for more support for
workplace learning, especially in areas related to emotional
intelligence. It crystallized what many of us have long suspected --
that a new model for learning is needed if training and educational
efforts are really going to be effective in creating better, more
The new model incorporates many of the suggestions of earlier training
models, but it goes beyond them by presenting new challenges to the
learning community. It spells out what is needed to support training if
it is to be truly effective in creating "differently-skilled" people.
These "absolutely essential" elements include preventing relapse through
practice," "giving feedback," "encouraging practice," "reinforcing
change," and "arranging support."
-- The Winning Solution
e-coach is a breakthrough in workplace performance improvement
because it offers an effective way to provide these essential elements.
If people need more support and more coaching and practice,
e-coach provides it.
Even within the highly charged, political environment of many
e-coach makes it possible to provide people at all levels with
the individual support they need.
e-coach provides a
cost-effective, user-friendly, and highly effective way to use new
approaches to learning and new technologies -- including the Internet
and internal intranets -- to help with these and other pressing human
resources and organizational concerns.