In an increasingly online world, we still need coaches, a humanizing force, to remind us of the big picture and to help us be successful.
In 1994, Strayer and Rossett articulated the TIM model, a three-pronged approach to coaching, illustrated in the figure below.
Training = creating a learning experience
In 1994, training was not quite the dirty word it is today so keep an open-mind. You can substitute the words “teaching” or “mentoring” if it makes you more comfortable. What Strayer and Rossett were advocating for was not a rigid, formalized approach, but one in which the coach is responsible for creating a learning experience for the person being coached in which that person was not left with vacuous statements but actually shown a way of doing something, invited to do it under a watchful eye, and then provided with feedback and an opportunity for further exploration.
Integration=connecting the learner to the real-world experience
The integration prong of the model is one that’s often ignored. Providing a learning experience and telling the learner to “have at it” is an approach that sets a learner up for failure. Yes, many learners will survive the “have at it” phase because of their own prior learning, resilience, and adaptability, but it wastes the previous coaching efforts. Helping learners to create needed relationships and providing an introduction to this real-world they’re supposed to be proficient in, is the true value-add that coaching should provide.
Motivation = share stories and put power in the hands of learners
Many coaches who advertise their services are not short of charisma, but that’s not what the motivation prong of TIM is about. It’s about making the value of the coaching challenge transparent, sharing authentic stories, and providing learners with opportunities for success. Motivation is part and parcel of the training and the integration prongs of TIM; all three prongs work in concert.
E-coaching uses technology to deliver coaching services. While e-coaching might be mediated by a system, don’t get ready to call your LMS an “e-coach”—in my opinion, that’s antithetical to the TIM model. E-coaching might be better positioned as ”blended coaching” with some coaching functions distributed to peers, so long as these peers can provide the needed expertise and connecting opportunities.
Systems do provide an opportunity to automate “push” (Goldsmith, n.d.). Another word that’s gone out of favor this year, “push” in this case doesn’t mean an information dump; it means providing reminders and cues to help learners access and implement the coaching they’ve been provided. Goldsmith notes that today’s learners are drowning in information and one of the roles of the e-coach is to help learners identify valuable tools and opportunities.
Speaking of opportunities…
As the Slideshare by Allison Rossett below indicates, in 2010, e-coaching was rarely used as a tool in the L&D arsenal of organizations.
Is this a missed opportunity? I think it’s in part a reflection of the fundamental challenge presented by the need to make a human touch a visible part of an e-coaching “system.” We have no shortage of collaboration tools. We have no shortage of experts (though some are self-proclaimed). What we do have is a shortage of people who can connect the two and who can make individuals feel as if they matter and that their development is unique and important. We talk a lot about the power of technology to create individualized learning experiences, but often we put all of the onus of creating this learning experience on the learner. We say (and are told) that learners should pull the information they need when and where they need it and that’s true. But isn’t this also a bit of a cop-out? Are we, in effect, telling our learners to “have at it”? Does this give us an out to provide canned content to learners in the expectation that it’s their responsibility to find and use what they need? This is the age of Web 2.0, after all.
Perhaps our role as learning and development specialists is neither to push content at learners nor to create systems that provide every conceivable resource to every conceivable learner. Instead, maybe our role is to be the human voice that guides problem-solving. In an online course, we have a responsibility to make our voice part of the multitude of voices that learners have access to. We’re neither the “sage on the stage” nor “the guide on the side,” we’re part of the fray. For me, this is the essence of the TIM model.
Goldsmith, M. (n.d.) E-coaching roles. retrieved November 9, 2011 from www.marshallgoldsmithlibrary.com/docs/EEP/E-Coaching Roles.doc
Strayer, J., & Rossett, A. (1994). Coaching sales performance: A case study. Performance Improvement Quarterly, Vol 7(4), 1994, 39-53.