Monthly Archives: February 2011

25 Coaching Questions for Trainers Using the 4MAT Model

coaching questionsIn our 4MAT instructional design courses and train the trainer courses, we often hear trainers share how difficult it can be to focus and sustain learner attention. Let’s explore how you can use 25 Coaching questions to focus the attention of the learner during the 4MAT Practice step. First, let’s explore why questions are important in the coaching process.

The neurons in your brain communicate with each other through electrochemical signals. These signals are triggered by incoming sensory information. What you notice and pay attention to over time shapes the neuronal connections in your brain.  In the article, A Brain-Based Approach to Coaching, Jeffrey Schwartz, M.D., shares:

“The questions you ask of your brain significantly affect the quality of the connections it makes, and profoundly alters the patterns and timings of the connections the brain generates in a fraction of a second. Now, substitute the concept of ‘attention’ for the phrase “the question you ask,” and you get the statement “Where you focus your attention, you make connections.”1

If you want to create sustained behavioral change, you must generate focused attention on the behaviors that must be executed consistently to generate the desired training result. In the 4MAT model of instruction, the third part of the learning cycle is “Practice”. In this step, the learner applies the content and the trainer moves into the role of “Coach”.

The questions the trainer asks in this step should be aimed at focusing the learner’s attention on the quality of the practice application of the content being learned in the course.  To help you increase your inventory of coaching questions, here is a list of 25 Coaching Questions you can use to focus the learner’s attention during practice training activities:

25 Coaching Questions for Trainers Using the 4MAT Model

1. What worked?
2. What could have worked better?
3. What do you notice about your application?
4. If you were your own coach, what coaching would you give yourself on this?
5. How could you turn this around?
6. What are three things you would improve?
7. What would you do again?
8. What would you not do again?
9. If you were a customer, how would you evaluate your approach? Your results?
10. What are three actions you might take to apply this with different results next time?
11. On a scale of 1-10, where is your application?
12. What would it take to move from a 5 to a 9?
13. Where are you comfortable? least comfortable?  Why?
14. What can you learn from this?
15. How else might you approach this?
16. What do you notice?
17. What could you pay more attention to?
18. What themes do you see showing up in the work of the group?
19. What differences do you notice in your application and others?
20. What one behavior (or thought) if executed consistently would make the biggest difference in your application?
21. What insights have you gained through this practice?
22. What do you think you should do first? next?
23. What would you do if it was entirely up to you?
24. If you saw someone else in this situation, what would you suggest that they do?
25. If you weren’t holding anything back, how might this look differently?

What other questions would  you add to the list?

1David Rock and Jeffrey M, Schwartz, M.D. Journal of Coaching in Organizations,  2006, 4(2), pp 32-43.

How the 4MAT Model Improves Performance

As a result of some interesting dialogue in one of our 4MAT train the trainer courses, Karen Hann, Senior Education Manager, and Denise Johnson, Performance Improvement Consultant, of Tupperware came up with a visual concept of how the 4MAT model improves performance internally and externally in an organization.

Since the 4MAT model was developed in 1979 by Dr. Bernice McCarthy, over 1 million people have discovered their learning style strengths using the 4MAT® Learning Type Measure. This is one of the most common ways that individuals are introduced to the 4MAT model-by identifying their individual learning style strengths. In the illustration below, you will see that this increased self-awareness is the launch pad for a common language that can be used  to improve teaming, communication, engagement, training, execution, leadership and coaching.

  • 4MAT creates a foundation for leadership and coaching skill development—4MAT is a simple framework for leading, managing, coaching and performance improvement.
  • 4MAT provides a model for execution—The 4MAT four-step model is a framework for getting things done. Project teams can utilize this framework to build a plan and identify potential barriers for successful execution.
  • 4MAT dramatically improves the impact of training—4MAT dramatically increases the measurable impact of instructional design and delivery by organizing the essential content around four critical learning outcomes that deliver on expected training ROI.
  • 4MAT provides a framework for engaging others—The 4-step model directly applies to planning meetings, sales presentations, coaching and marketing.
  • 4MAT builds complementary teams—Team members and leaders can use the awareness of individual strengths to assemble teams with complementary skill sets.
  • 4MAT increases self-awareness—The Learning Type Measure provides individuals with an awareness of their natural learning strengths along with concrete strategies for effectively interacting with learning styles of fellow team members. 

4MAT Train the Trainer: How to Reach Every Learning Style

In our 4MAT Train the Trainer workshops, the question is often raised of whether we should simply match the training style of the trainer to the learning style of the learners in every class. Imagine training breakout sessions formed with an invitation that sounds like, “If you are a Type Three learner, please report to Doug’s session which will focus on how you will actually apply this information with minimal dialogue and interaction. If you are a Type One learner, go to Susan’s session where we will explore personal stories related to the content and spend a good portion of our time in partner exercises. ”  While this seems like an efficient solution that would allow both trainers and learners to operate from their learning style preferences, there are two reasons that this does not work:

1-Every learner, regardless of learning style, moves through a four-step cycle when learning new information. To learn something, we must move through the complete learning cycle that engages us at a personal level, shares the necessary information, allows for practice and equips us to assess and adapt the information in the real world.

2-Our research confirms that organizations, as a whole, represent a composite of learning styles. In other words, when you look at the whole of an organization, you will find a balanced mix of  learning style preferences and hemispheric mode preferences (right- and left-brain) . Equally, if not more importantly, you will also find a balanced distribution of least preferred learning style preferences.

These two factors are critical to consider when designing learning experiences. To effectively reach every learning style, we must design with intention.

In any well-designed training program, there should be a finite number of learning outcomes with supporting learning content that delivers on each outcome.  To reach every learning style, the outcomes must be directly linked to activity choice. The activities should be chosen to allow the learners to process the necessary learning topics in multiple ways that appeal to different learning styles.  

If you were delivering a course to leaders and managers on how to effectively address performance issues, how might you vary the activities so that they appeal to all learning styles while also reinforcing the desired learning outcome? Below are some examples of training activities that appeal to all learning styles that collectively address the desired outcome of equipping managers to lead performance conversations. The number indicates the 4MAT learning style that would most prefer this type of activity.

Personal Reflections-Participants are asked to individually reflect on a recent performance issue they have dealt  with then share their stories with a partner(1)

Group Exercise-Participants collectively define what works and doesn’t work in performance conversations, based on their previous experiences (1)

Advance Organizers-A visual organizer of the content to be covered is sent out, prior to the session, which illustrates how the content and topics to be covered fit together (2)

Video of Effective and Ineffective Performance conversations-Participants view demonstrations of real-world conversations (2)

Scripting Your Conversation-Participants take a real-world conversation they need to have and develop a script, using the model shared by the trainer (3)

Practice Conversations-Participants apply the model shared by the trainer to lead a converstion using real-world scenarios (3)

Self-Assessment of Practice- Participants assess the effectiveness of their role-play using criteria provided and adapt, as needed.

Follow-Up Plan-Participants develop a 30-day plan for application (4)

Notice how each activity reinforces the desired outcome. The key to reaching every learning style lies in intentionally choosing activities and placing them in the right sequence to move learners through the complete learning cycle.

If you haven’t experienced 4MAT, you may enjoy one of our free train the trainer web classes which explain the 4MAT 8 Steps of Design.

4MAT: Interpreting the Learning Type Measure, Leadership Behavior Inventory and other assessments

The 4MAT model is a framework for understanding how people take in and make meaning of new information. The model can be applied to learning, training design, training delivery, coaching and leading. Most people discover the 4MAT model by taking one of the 4MAT assessment tools.

Each 4MAT assessment tool delivers a top-line, easy-to-digest description of the user’s style strengths. When you look deeper at the assessment profile, you will find that most users have a primary preference for one approach and a secondary preference in another. For example, a leader may have a strong preference for the 4MAT Type Four leadership approach with a secondary preference for the 4MAT Type Three leadership approach.

The primary and secondary approach descriptions combine to give a clearer picture of the individual’s approach. The illustration above shows how the combination of preferences described by the 4MAT Leadership Behavior Inventory illustrates leadership approach. Equally important to preference for a particular approach is the avoidance of another approach. 

To gain the most benefit from the assessment of style strengths, you should pay attention to the degree of focus on all four approaches. The 4MAT assessment tools are designed to foster understanding of personal strengths and deliver strategies for maximizing those strengths. A significant part of the process of maximizing strengths involves addressing potential weak areas to the extent that they may diminish the potential impact and contribution of the individual’s strengths. We refer to this as gaining a “threshold” level of skill.

The corporate 4MAT assessment tools available include the:

Learning Type Measure or LTM assesses preferences in taking in and making meaning of new information. At an individual level, this tool is helpful for understanding how you process information and how to identify your natural thinking strengths. On a team level, this tool enhances communication and productivity.

Hemispheric Mode Indicator or HMI assesses preferences for right-brain or left-brain processing. On an individual level, this is an excellent tool for understanding your preference for the two dimensions of creativity: abstract and concrete. thinking For trainers, this tool enhances awareness of what might be missing in your training design and delivery.  For teams, this tool is excellent for analyzing the creative process within the group and a great kick-off to a creative strategy session.

Leadership Behavior Inventory or LBI assesses preferences in four critical leadership approaches. On an individual level, this tool will help you understand your leadership approach’s strengths and the impact of that approach on all four learning styles present in your team.  At an organizational level, this tool creates awareness of the diversity (or predominance) of the four essential leadership approaches.

Training Style Inventory or TRSI  assesses preferences in four critical training roles: facilitator, presenter, coach and evaluator. At an individual level, this tool will help you understand your natural strengths when training others. It will also illustrate what might be missing in your training design and/or delivery. On a team level, this tool helps identify the composite training strengths of a team offering new possibilities for team teaching and colleague coaching.

How you are using the 4MAT assessment tools? Hiring? Coaching? Teambuilding? Leadership development?

4MAT Leadership Behavior Inventory (LBI): Understanding Leadership Approach

In a recent 4MAT train the trainer session, the question of “How do we convince managers that understanding how the brain works is important to everyone in the organization, not just to training and development?” To answer this question, let’s explore the value leaders will generate by understanding how learning happens and how the 4MAT Leadership Behavior Inventory assesses leadership approach.

If you are familiar with the 4MAT learning styles model, you know that there are four primary preferences related to the process of taking in and making meaning of information. Most individuals have a dominant preference in one of the four learning approaches while others have a secondary approach that is also frequently used. This means that a manager has a preferred approach and every individual on their team has a preferred approach. At times, these preferences differ greatly.

A manager’s learning style influences their approach to communicating, planning, coaching, project management, prioritizing and more. If managers and leaders are using one or two dominant information sharing and processing approaches to manage people, programs and processes, it is likely that productivity and overall effectivess of the team and the organization suffers.  For example, a senior leadership team that relies heavily on the 4MAT Type 3 and Type Four approach when communicating  will miss half of the organization with their message. The value of understanding learning preferences lies in understanding that your 4MAT learning style refers to the part of the learning process that you prefer and tend to linger in the longest. To produce optimal results, we must move through the entire learning process in our planning, communicating and learning.

When a manager or leader understands how to form and lead groups that will generate balanced thinking, results increase exponentially. Here are some of the ways that managers and leaders who understand learning styles and understand how learning happens use this information to create higher performance:

Role design-When analyzing a project or team function, a manager that has awareness of the different learning style approaches of each individual on their team will organize the work to align with the thinking strengths of each individual. This enables each individual to contribute at the highest level.

Job Placement-When hiring for a position, a manager with a strong understanding of thinking preferences will look to see if the functions required in the role align with the natural strengths of the individual. They will ask themselves, “Will this person be operating from their natural strengths the majority of the time in this role?” For example, the 4MAT research team has identified that 44% of public hospital health nurses are strongest in the Type One learning approach. This indicates a feeling and reflective approach to interacting with others with a strong disposition towards listening that would serve well in the role of caretaker.

Team Structure-Differences in style create tension. This tension is healthy when it is acknowledged and celebrated as a valuable element of the team’s diversity. For example, a strong Type 4 team member will focus on possibilities while a team member with a strong Type 2 preference will focus on probabilities. Partnering these two thinkers on a new product development project will deliver well-thought-out solutions that are innovative and likely to be successful, based on past performance.

Organizational design-The extensive research on 4MAT learning style preferences in different functional roles confirms that different thinking styles gravitate to different functional roles. For example, our research shows that the majority of entrepreneurs and strategic planners have a preference for the 4MAT Type Four learning style while the majority of bookkeepers and operations managers have a preference for the 4MAT Type 2 learning style. The differences between these functions in an organization create healthy tension and balance between possibilities and probabilities.

There are many benefits to understanding learning styles and the way that learning happens. If you want to invite leaders in your organization into this conversation, one of the most effective ways to do this is to assess their leadership approach through then lens of the 4MAT Leadership Behavior Indicator (LBI). Here is an overview of the four approaches:

The Type One leadership approach is highly collaborative, team-oriented and focused on  people.

The Type Two leadership approach is highly structured, fact-based and focused on process.

The Type Three leadership approach is highly practical, action-oriented and focused on performance.

The Type Four leadership approach is highly intuitive, adaptation-oriented and focused on possibility.

4MAT at ASTD Techknowledge: Cool e-learning tools

While many of our 4MAT friends were experiencing a storm of “historic” proportions, some of us were lucky enough to head to San Jose for the ASTD Techknowledge 2011 conference. Techknowledge is ASTD’s elearning-focused train the trainer event. On Tuesday, I led a session on designing outcome-based 4MAT elearning training designs and had a chance to connect with a great group of instructional designers, training managers and corporate university directors.

As part of the session, participants shared tools and resources being used to create elearning. Here are some highlights from the sharing session:

How to create screencasts the easy way: The 4MAT team frequently uses Screenr-it’s a no-brainer for quick screen capture. Screenr allows you to record screen movement and sync automatically audio. Great for quick, how-to videos or short web demos.

How to create avatar dialogue in minutes: One of our workshop participants, Carl, shared that he recently created a movie using Xtranormal.com. Xtranormal allows you to convert text into dialogue using pre-designed avatars and settings.  I created this  using Xtranormal in 10 minutes, using the free version of the tool:

How to stay up-to-date on rapid elearning design tools: Subscribe to the Rapid E-learning blog by Tom Kuhlmann. We love Tom-he will be joining us on our 4MATion web education calendar delivering examples of how to use Articulate to design powerful 4MAT opening activitities. Here’s a recent post by Tom with 75 Free Rapid Elearning Tools

For more elearning tools, you can visit our post from our visit to the Elearning Guild’s DevLearn.