How six levels of learning helps Fastlead deliver
Summary: Today’s workforce demands a multi-layered, multi-platform learning experience. And they want it fast. That’s what small group coaching (SGC) offers. This article explains how SGC enables six levels of learning.
Written by Alistair Gordon 14 Apr 2020

Today’s workforce demands a multi-layered, multi-platform learning experience. And they want it fast. That’s what small group coaching offers.

HFL Leadership’s Fastlead program is a good example of efficient small group coaching. With just one coach for three leadership participants, it enables six levels of learning. This means the contents of all sessions are delivered across multiple dimensions, ensuring maximum effectiveness and relevance.

What are these six levels? Why are they important, and how does Fastlead innovative design make it happen?

Level 1: Content from the leadership coach

The first level of learning is content facilitated by the coach. Fastlead’s small group coaching comprises a number of coaching pods, which typically run for two hours with just three participants.

There is a 30 minute section at the beginning of where the leadership coach shares the content of that pod. The coach facilitates this content, discussing it with the participants rather than simply delivering it trainer style.

The Fastlead program has 14 topics in the front line leader program and 10 topics in the middle manager program. We encourage organizations to let participants in the pods choose their own topics, and we have a range of tools to help them do this.

Level 2: Peer experiences

The second level of learning is provided by the participants themselves. Very often they realize that they are all struggling with the same issues. This can be both a relief and a confidence builder.

The sharing of peer experiences is a very important aspect of Fastlead, because it ensures the program is highly customized to the participants‘ situation, and for that reason very relevant. By the end of each session the coach and participants have moved into solution mode, working together to design actions they can apply back in the workplace. They then report back on the effectiveness of these approaches at the beginning of the next session.

Level 3: Coaching on coaching

The third level of learning is coaching, which is a core skill for today’s successful modern leaders. Coaching is demonstrated live in every session. The Fastlead professional leadership coach teases out key issues and possible causes and solutions, using advanced questioning techniques and empathetic listening. While each participant is being coached the others observe, seeing an immediate demonstration of how powerful this technique can be.

As the pod sessions progress this leads to a significant transfer of coaching skills to the participants. Within three or four sessions they are volunteering coaching questions themselves. Our coaches call out specific ‘killer questions’ that participants can deploy for the rest of their careers.

Level 4: New skills deployment

The fourth level of learning in Fastlead is the direct deployment of the new skills the participants have learned back to the workplace.

With this process they learn what works and what doesn’t, and why. Without deployment and testing there is no real learning. This technique ensures that participants experience a range of success and failure, which is analyzed by the coach and the other participants at the beginning of the following session. They learn that just a small amount of application can have a big impact, and that asking the right question at the right time can make all the difference in conversations with their team members. Participants develop new confidence as successes increase.

Level 5: Manager interaction

The fifth level of learning comes from the support of the participants’ managers. Development happens much faster with manager support. The Fastlead program design ensures – via scheduled updates and helpful toolkits – that managers are well informed on the discussion topics and content.

In the Fastlead program, managers have full access to all the materials used by the participants. After each pod session the manager is sent a discussion toolkit to assist them in supporting their participant. The program is designed for participants to learn from their managers, and vice versa.

Three-way check-ins are staged with the coach, participant, and participant’s manager discussing the participants’ Personal Growth Plan at the beginning and the end of the sessions. There are typically six session over six months.

Level 6. Learning portal

The sixth level of learning takes place with self-paced instruction via the Fastlead learning portal. Each topic on the curriculum has a dedicated learning center containing videos, discussion papers, quizzes and podcasts. Participants can access the learning portal for 12 months after their program has finished, and sign up to further self-paced learning exercises. We have found that this ‘just afterwards’ approach significantly increases engagement with the learning portal.

See how Fastlead works

Fastlead is a curriculum-based, small group coaching development solution, structured around pods of four people (three participants and one professional leadership coach), with between six and nine sessions in a cycle. These usually occur a month part. Each pod session focuses on one topic – selected from a curriculum of 14, by the participants themselves. Selection usually takes place after Fastlead’s two stage diagnostic exercises.

Fastlead can be deployed for three leadership candidates – or for 300 – in a matter of weeks. See how Fastlead delivers results.

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