Basic Guidelines for Action Learning and Coaching Groups

Sections of this topic

    Fundamental Rules for Action Learning and Coaching Groups

    It’s very useful to conduct relevant and realistic evaluations of a group coaching or Action Learning program that is assigned to address a current, major “problem,” or priority, in life or the workplace. It’s best to even create an evaluation plan — ideally before the group(s) even get started — and to have the plan reviewed by people in charge of the priority to be addressed, sponsors (people officially assigned to manage the group program), facilitators and some group members. Be sure to specify what will be confidential during and after the evaluation.

    Here are basic guidelines about what to evaluate, what tools to use, and what to present at the end of the program.

    NOTE: This post addresses basic guidelines — resources for more in-depth information are provided at the end of the post.

    What to Evaluate

    At the mid-point and at the end of the group coaching or Action Learning program, you want to evaluate at least the following five things, with input from the members and facilitator (if an external facilitator is used):
    1. Progress on the overall “problem” or priority that the group is chartered to address. So it’s good to also identify some “indicators” toward progress — some indicators that you can realistically and practically get data about.
    2. Program goals — goals about starting and running a group coaching or Action Learning program, e.g., evaluate status toward achieving a goal to “Develop a group coaching or Action Learning Coordinator job description.”
    3. Quality of facilitation process and tools so far, whether it’s an external or self-facilitated group.
    4. Quality of each meeting, including attendance, participation, and coaching/feedback process and tools among members.
    5. Quality of achievement of individual goals that each member sets for him/herself in the program.

    Evaluation Methods

    1. Quick verbal rating from each member in each meeting about the quality of that meeting, including why each member selected that rating, and what he/she could have done during the meeting to have gotten a higher rating now.
    2. Questionnaires at the mid-point and end of the program, about the 5 items listed above and about the 6 items listed later on below.
    3. Then selected interviews after the questionnaires, especially about the best results, worst results, and recommendations from members.
    4. Optionally, case studies at the end of the program, especially about the best experience, the worst experience, and average/nominal experience in the program.

    What to Present at the End of the Program

    In the final presentation, ideally made by the group members themselves, they present 6 things:
    1. Description of the “problem” or overall priority they addressed.
    2. Their “charter” or purpose as a group, i.e., the process they used, resources they were allocated, the authority they were given, members of the set, any sponsorship from other roles in the organization, etc.
    3. The actions they took between meetings.
    4. The learnings they gleaned about the 5 items that were evaluated (listed above), and especially in terms of new knowledge, skills, and perceptions — both expected and unexpected.
    5. The final effect on the “problem” they addressed.
    6. Ideally, any recommendations for future programs and group activities.

    What do you think?

    For many related, free online resources, see the following Free Management Library’s topics:


    Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD – Authenticity Consulting, LLC – 800-971-2250
    Read my blogs: Boards, Consulting and OD, and Strategic Planning.