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World of Learning 2010: Build an internal resource of accredited coaches and mentors to maximise the benefits of training

With a number of organisations cutting back on coaching, I believe investment in this key development tool, particularly in the current climate, is essential for the evolution of any workforce. It not only provides the means for organisations to keep employee engagement high but it is also important for an individual's career progression.

Indeed, the International Personnel Management Association (IPMA) reiterates the benefits that coaching can provide. Its research suggests that ordinary training typically increases productivity by 22%, while training combined with coaching increases productivity by 88%.

Last year, we worked with the Institute of Learning Leadership and Development and PCS Consulting to create a qualification exclusively for our HR employees. The qualification focuses on the development of the core skills of coaching and mentoring.

I felt it was important to invest in the core skill of mentoring, not only from a workforce perspective but also to benefit the business. Coaching and mentoring are key leadership skills that will help us continually drive talent through all levels of the business. To date, we have had excellent feedback on the workshops from those attending and we hope to extend this to other employees later this year.

This is a development area that I am passionate about and one for which I see clear benefits. The workshops have allowed me to realise one of my long-term aspirations – to build an internal resource of accredited coaches and mentors that can be deployed to support any area of the business. The training and subsequent qualification ensures that all coaching and mentoring at Santander has a structured framework and is administered effectively. This will ultimately provide a sustained benefit not only for those taking the qualification but also for the wellbeing of Santander’s wider workforce.

The qualification equips each employee with a toolkit of techniques to coach individuals through a wide range of personal performance issues. Currently 14 Santander employees are taking the programme, which runs over a period of two or three years and is completed in conjunction with their normal day-to-day job.

For any coaching programme to be successful, it must be placed in the context of a wider learning and development agenda. For me, the challenge that any company faces is to ensure that each employee incorporates development fully into their working day. By doing so, they will learn more quickly, progress faster and make a greater contribution to the wider success of the organisation.  To really progress talent within any organisation, it is imperative that HR leaders make sure that every individual in the workforce has the opportunities for development offered to them and I believe coaching is a great means to achieve this level of tailoring.

Caroline Curtis is head of talent at Santander. Her colleague, Jayne Stokes, head of learning at the bank, is one of the keynote speakers at the World of Learning Conference in September

Now in its 18th year, the World of Learning Conference & Exhibition 2010 will once again attract thousands of L&D professionals to the NEC in Birmingham on Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 September 2010.

All aspects of the event are designed to enhance the skills of learning and development professionals and equip them to deal with the challenges of today’s business environment. The renowned conference, which attracts sell-out crowds, will tackle the issues of key concern to L&D professionals, from employee engagement, change management and leadership development, to enhancing business performance, informal learning, coaching and proving the benefit of learning activities. Keynote speakers include Ruth Spellman, OBE, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute, discussing ’A New World for Business?’ and the implications and challenges for L&D; and Jayne Stokes, head of learning at Santander, who will present ‘Encouraging Workplace Learning in your Organisation’ and how to create a continuous learning culture.

Employee engagement will also be an important underlying theme in the seminars within the World of Learning Conference. Sophie Turner, talent manager at National Grid, and Jack Wills, chairman of the British Institute for Learning & Development, will discuss the issue of ’Maximising Business Performance through a Collaborative Strategy for Talent Development‘, while Adrian Price, learning and development manager at TUI Travel UK and Ireland, will highlight issues including how to engage managers to drive change in a presentation called ‘Facilitating and Dealing with Change through Learning’.

The World of Learning’s conference programme also includes L&D professionals from highly-respected organisations including: Nick Shackleton-Jones, manager – online and informal learning at the BBC; Judi Wilkinson, senior learning and development consultant at Zurich Academy Europe within Zurich Financial Services; and Steve Robertson, head of market services at Corporation of Lloyd’s. The full schedule, including speaker backgrounds and presentation breakdowns, is available here.

The World of Learning Exhibition, which is free to conference delegates, features more than 100 UK and international L&D suppliers, experts and advisers who will be on hand to provide advice and solutions to challenges faced by industry members.

Free features within the exhibition include the Workplace Wellness Zone, interactive workshops, Experiential Learning Zone, skills workshops, product demonstrations, and the Business & Networking Lounge. Unique to this event is the new Professional Development Zone, a specialised area where L&D professionals can learn how to expand their own skills, which is often overlooked as the concentration is constantly on colleague development.

The exhibition will also feature a series of insightful free seminars including, ‘Engaging Learners in Workshops That They Will Love’, presented by Rob Geraghty of The Wow Factor, ‘How a Coaching Leadership Style Contributes to High Engagement’, presented by Carole Gaskell, founder of Full Potential Group; and ‘How to Work Wonders’ delivered by Liggy Webb, managing director, The Learning Architect, examining how to improve mental, physical and environmental health of employees.

"A visit to the event will enable L&D professionals to ensure they’re at the forefront of market developments, including employee engagement, utilising the latest methods and working with the most cost-effective solutions available," said Andrew Gee, senior project manager for the World of Learning.

To register for free entry to the World of Learning Exhibition, or to book your place on the World of Learning Conference, visit www.learnevents.com or call +44 (0)20 8394 5171.