A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.

John Wooden

Staff training (video 6) – taking notes

A simple but critical part of staff training and coaching

We’ve all been there. During a busy week, jumping in and out of meetings, attending staff training, having water-cooler chats, you come across some critical information that you’re sure you’ll remember because it’s so important. But a day, week or month later when you mentally return to it, you realise… it’s gone. Sketchy details remain but the fundamentals – the information you need – has been forgotten. You curse yourself, “Why didn’t I write it down?”

Taking notes is a simple but critical part of our jobs. It is particularly important during employee education and trainingactivities such as coaching. If a team member sees you taking notes, especially during coaching sessions, it communicates that you value them, you take their professional development seriously and that they should too.

Plus, the physical process of taking notes helps the human brain embed the information. Even if you never read the notes again, you’ll remember the information better if you write it down.

The most important person to take notes is the one that isn’t

So who should be taking notes, you ask? The team member who is being coached. All too often in coaching sessions, no one is taking notes. Or if someone is, it’s the leader, not the team member.

So why is it important for the one being coached to take notes? Because it helps them remember what they learned and encourages them to take control of their own development.

The benefits of taking notes

  • People don’t argue with their own data. If your team member is taking notes about their development, they’ll feel more accountable than if you just tell them.
  • Improving accountability and ownership increases the likelihood that your team member will implement what they have learned and do something different after an employee training and coaching session.
  • If you see your team member taking notes, it lets you know that they are also taking their professional development seriously and they value the time you are taking to coach them. If not, you have bigger problems to address than simply taking notes.

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Tips for effective note-taking

When taking notes, it’s impossible to record every single thing, and nor would you want to. Your notes should be a summary of important information.

  • Use dot points – this makes the information easier to scan later
  • Capture information in small bite-sized chunks – it’s easier to remember
  • Record information in a central location that can be accessed by everyone
  • Ideally, get your team member who is being coached to take notes into that central location

If your team member takes notes that you can both access later, it has multiple benefits for you both:

  • YOU can focus on the employee training and coaching conversation
  • They will remember the details of the discussion better
  • Consistency; you will both be working from the same agreed set of notes in the future
  • If another leader or coach needs to step into your role because you are unavailable, they will know exactly what has happened in the past and what to follow up on next (this also provides consistency for your employee)

Keeping it together

Keeping all your information together is as important as taking notes in the first place. Remember the scenario from earlier where you forgot to take notes? It’s just as frustrating to remember taking the notes but not being able to find them again! Using a central system like YakTrak allows you and your team member to record all your coaching notes, goals and feedback in one place. It can be easily accessed by you both. YakTrak also has a handy voice-to-text feature so you can quickly add notes on the go, plus you can both take notes into the system at the same time.

What next?

Remember to refer back to the previous notes at the start of each coaching session. It sends a clear message that follow-up is really important. Your team member will come to expect that in each coaching session, you’ll open up YakTrak, review the previous notes and ask questions about their progress since the last coaching session. This keeps you both accountable and ensures ongoing people development.

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