Assessing learnability and coachability: A new tool for advancing performance success

Companies invest significant dollars in employee training to advance business success. According to Deloitte Consulting LLC, in 2013, companies spent $70 billion in the U.S. on learning programs that included instructor led workshops, webinars, online video learning programs and self-paced programs. Training budgets have been growing between 10 and 15 percent since 2010, and are producing an average of 22 percent return-on-training-investment. Ventana states that when supervisory coaching is added to reinforce the training, return on investment quadruples to 88 percent.

It appears that coaching has a profound effect on performance. A study by the Sales Executive Council states sales leaders who provided three hours of coaching for each rep per month achieved 107 percent of their targets, whereas those who provided less than three hours not only failed to achieve their sales plans, but also put their own jobs at risk.
Coaching builds a bridge between classroom learning and real world application. The personalized approach transforms learning from being potentially transactional, to something that becomes transformational.
Too often, managers view coaching as a last step effort to save someone; but in fact, it is designed to accelerate employees who are fully engaged, desire to grow, and crave the feeling of accomplishment of knowing that what they thought was impossible, is possible. Coaching is not a one-meeting-and-done process. Rather, it is a series of discussions that leads to incremental breakthrough moments that over time develop confidence, capability and competency.
When employees realize that the barriers to success are not within the organization, but rather within their own minds, fear is overridden by purpose, creating a series of breakthrough moments that generate new levels of performance results.
The problem is that not every employee is trainable or coachable, and not every manager is a coach. As a manager, have you ever invested time with an employee who you recognized as having potential, but nothing that you said or did worked to improve their performance? Likewise, as an employee, have you ever worked for someone who had no idea how to help you succeed?
Thinking back on those experiences, what if you had a tool that could tell you before you made the investment of time, energy and financial resources that the person was not trainable? Or coachable? Or that a different approach based on the way that person learns would work better? Or that if you participated in a more hands on type of training that you would learn faster and retain more?
Such a tool now exists. Training Reinforcement Partners ( has launched the Coaching Investment Assessment, which provides strategic insight into how people learn and how to best coach them based on their unique personality and learning style. The online assessment takes between four and six minutes to complete and evaluates nine core categories including:

  • Learning styles – How does the employee learn? Is she an independent learner? Collaborative or highly collaborative learner?
  • Feedback – How well does the employee give and receive feedback?
  • Confidence – How confident is the employee? Does that change when faced with different circumstances?
  • Attitude – Does he overcome challenges easily?
  • Motivation – What is her inner drive?
  • Engagement – How engaged is he with his boss? Team? Organization?
  • Connectivity – How strong is her connection to her job?
  • Self-development – How committed is he to learning and growing?
  • Relationships – What is her outlook on relationships?

This integrated system provides situational learning for both the employee and the supervisor. The kit includes:

  • A 120-day program that teaches managers about the nine foundational principles and how to effectively coach and support their employees to higher levels of success. Dave Stevens, director of coaching and development at Muskego-based InPro Corp. says, “I’ve been coaching for many years. This one-of-a-kind tool provides a greater understanding of each employee and how I should be coaching them. It gives me strategic insights as to each employee’s strengths, areas for development and strategies for facilitating that process.”
  • Coaching modules that guide managers about how to best engage with each employee based on his unique personal attributes. For example, if the assessment indicates that the individual struggles with receiving feedback, the system provides questions, activities, and learning projects to help the manager be more effective when coaching the employee.
  • A 30-day employee program comprised of daily lessons lasting three to five minutes each. At the end of the program, employees are better prepared to receive supervisory coaching support.

Tim Hagen, founder of Sales Progress, a Training Reinforcement Partner company, said, “We built a system that enables managers to better understand how to approach and coach their employees. Additionally, the system provides fact-based information so managers can make better choices about who will benefit from training and coaching, and who will not.”
This brings up an important point regarding employee accountability and professional development. Hagen added, “Employees have a real responsibility to invest in themselves if career advancement is important to them. This system provides important insights that help employees understand how they learn, what are their strengths, and where they have apprehension so they can proactively seek out learning programs that align with their personal goals and learning style.”
Making the most of every dollar invested in training and coaching can reap substantial benefits today, tomorrow and in the future. This system provides managers and employees with strategic insights about their learning styles and coachability. The compounded value of hitting financial targets and promoting from within is simply good business.
Christine McMahon is a business strategist who offers sales and leadership training/coaching and is a co-founder of the Leadership Institute at Waukesha County Technical College’s Center for Business Performance Solutions. She can be reached at (414) 290-3344 or by email at:

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