Supporting leadership development requires considerable investment in terms of both time and money and you must be eager to find out how to maximize the leadership coaching effectiveness.

Before you send a new hire off to a course or workshop for leadership development coaching, be prepared to leverage your training dollars by providing the right support for each stage of learning.

Follow these 4 ways to maximize your leadership coaching initiative for your new hires:

4 Stages of Learning that helps you to understand and adopt the right coaching strategies.

All learners progress through four stages when presented with new skills and processes. Providing the right kind of support at each of these stages is critical to ensure learning sticks.

Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetence

Often new leaders, “Don’t know what they don’t know.” Not recognizing the deficit, new leaders may deny the usefulness of the skill in the application of their roles and responsibilities.

Following training, there may be some ad-hoc efforts to sporadically apply the skills learned in a training workshop, but the approach is ill-defined and results are unpredictable.

The Right Support for Stage 1:

  1. Support the new leader in identifying their gaps in leadership. Resist the urge to register them in training before they identify the need to develop a new skill or make a change: This creates confusion and resistance that will only delay the acquisition of new skills.
  2. Immediately support the leader’s identified need to change by focusing attention on the goals, skills, process, and intended outcomes of the new skill or approach.

Provide opportunities to observe others and gain information about where and how to learn the new skill in a timely fashion.

Stage 2: Conscious Incompetence

When new leaders recognize their deficits, they develop an understanding of the rationale for the required shift and are more open to learning opportunities. Conscious efforts to learn the new and apply the new skill need to be fully supported.

The Right Support for Stage 2:

  1. Provide opportunities for new leaders to use new skills across a variety of situations
  2. Closely monitor, provide support and feedback to encourage new leaders to take risks and learn from their mistakes
Stage 3: Conscious Competence

A noticeable shift is evident when new leaders adopt new skills and processes more readily across a variety of situations. They have first-hand evidence of the usefulness of the new skill and are eager to continue to improve their abilities.

The Right Support for Stage 3:

  1. Use Supportive Conversations Skills to provide continued support in identifying the challenges in the application of the new skill
  2. Use Performance Conversations to provide ongoing feedback, support and celebrate success
  3. Encourage new leaders to seek out best practices to ensure continuous improvement
Stage 4: Unconscious Competence

When an individual has had so much practice that the skill becomes “second nature”, you know that your investment in the learning has truly paid off. The achievement of learning outcomes is a huge motivator for new leaders in identifying new learning opportunities.

The Right Support for Stage 4:

  1. Encourage individuals to support others in acquiring the same skill. Having recent experience in what supports were most and least beneficial can accelerate the learning of others
  2. Support the identification of new learning opportunities to capitalize on the upswing of motivation

Supporting new leaders in learning new skills through an understanding of the four stages of learning will promote a progression through to a level of Conscious Competence.

What do you think are your best practices for supporting new skill acquisition after training? What are the ways to maximize your leadership develop coaching initiatives and bring ROI for your training dollars?