How to scale up small group coaching: planning the logistics

Written by Alistair Gordon, 20 Apr 2020

In one hundred discussions in recent times with senior Learning & Development professionals about small group coaching, one regular objection to introducing it as a design kept coming up.

‘We know small group coaching works for each small group, but we could never make it work here because of the logistics. The design has too many moving parts, and we’d need expensive resources to manage the process. Two- or three-day workshops are soooo much easier.’

This is both absolutely accurate, and also quite wrong.

WHY LOGISTICS MATTER

Most L&D or OD functions are hugely under-staffed for the work the organisation would like them to do. Every new idea - wellness, staff engagement, employee brand, social justice, health and safety, and so on - lands magically on the L&D and OD desk.

Time is a resource that these professionals don’t have.

So it makes sense to say that, even accepting the brilliant results small group leadership coaching achieves, it’s unworkable because of the intense logistics involved.

Instead of getting participants to agree to one set of dates, you need to get them to agree to at least nine sets of dates. You need to monitor attendance at many events, not just one. Because small group coaching typically takes place over six months, people leave, get promoted, change manager, drop out, get seconded overseas, and so on. Even maintaining a proper register of who’s in what pod with what coach doing what topic is a nightmare.

Who would sign up for this?

WHY OUTSOURCING LOGISTICS IS SMART

Dulux did. And Adelaide Brighton. And Metro Trains. And Genea. And Inchcape. And UnitingCare. Why did these senior L&D people sign up for small group coaching - because they didn;t have to lift a finger on the operational logistics side of the program. The Fastlead team did it all.

The L&D professionals were heavily involved in internal comms, of course (using Fastlead templates), and manager briefings (using Fastlead templates and decks), and pod selection (whose in what which pod and why, using Fastlead’s systems and processes). But once the ‘go’ button was hit, Fastlead Central, our amazing project management team shifts into gear.

It’s taken the Fastlead team a while, but we’ve now cracked the code for efficient small group coaching logistics. We have rules - some flexible, some inflexible. Client reporting is accurate, real time, and both quantitative (who turned up) and qualitative (did they engage when they did turn up). Fastlead Central run all the regular polling of participants and managers. They send out Manager’s Toolkits after every session.

We run an automated project management process that manages, and reports on the whole process.

THE PUNCHLINE

You’re right - logistics for small group coaching is painful and high maintenance. Do the right thing - outsource it to the professionals who are set up (systems), dedicated (its what we do) to making it work and experienced (350 small group coaching pods later, we’re literally seen it all and have fixed most of it).

See the associated case study about really scaling small group coaching: Fastlead @ Scale.