“Can you teach an old dog new tricks?” asks Singapore based Pratap Nambiar in his blog Thought Perfect. Pratap is the Founder and Chief Executive of Thought Perfect Pte Ltd. This catchy phrase has been debated in HR and performance improvement circles for decades. What is the power of learning? Can people really change their behaviours? Can you make change stick?

Based on my experience as a corporate executive and an executive coach, let me share a few thoughts:

  1. The learner must feel a compulsive need to learn something. This need can come from innate desire or from an external threat but without this urge learning is seldom beneficial.
  2. Results determine whether changes in behaviour will stick or not. If the learner experiences positive outcomes from the changed behaviour they are more likely to demonstrate that behaviour again.
  3. At the end of the day, the coach is but a facilitator. You can create conditions where the learner sees the advatnagtes of change but you can’t do this for him/her. The change has to come from within.
  4. The greatest challenge in coaching is that each person and each set of situations are different from others. A ” cut and paste” approach simply won’t work. Best learning comes through a deep understanding of issues impacting performance in each specific case.

It would be interesting to get your thoughts.