Journal-Based Coaching Is the Write Stuff for Learners

Journal-Based Coaching couples training content and sound journaling principles to create a valuable opportunity for learning, stress reduction, and greater coaching effectiveness.

Journal based coaching

Journal-Based Coaching provides an effective alternative to the current virtual delivery world where video-based conference calls and training sessions are creating learner fatigue. What is Journal-Based Coaching? It’s a systematic approach that combines learning with journaling. It couples training content and sound journaling principles to create a valuable opportunity for learning, stress reduction, and greater coaching effectiveness.

Journal-Based Coaching prompts learners to journal what they have learned and what they’ve applied from the learning, leading to increased accountability often missing from traditional training and coaching. By asking people to journal—and ultimately verbalize their learnings or observations—they become accountable for the application and retention of the training/learning process.

Most programs prompt learners to journal on a daily or weekly basis specific to target areas where performance or behavioral change is needed. The journals often serve as a tool to facilitate additional coaching between a manager (coach) and the employee who is doing the journaling.

What Are the Benefits?

The benefits of Journal-Based Coaching are vast. Journaling by itself helps to lower stress and blood pressure. It also serves as a valuable tool to maintain a record of what was learned or experienced. This leads to more targeted coaching conversations between the manager and employee. One major benefit is that journaling requires no in-person training or coaching, allowing for non-virtual delivery. For example, let’s assume a manager needs greater teamwork from the staff. A simple journal-based coaching solution could be to do the following:

  • Journal two weekly observations of fellow teammates who exemplified great teamwork (fuels the mind positively and provides perspective).
  • Journal one thing as a result of the observation that you are committed to improving yourself (personal commitment).
  • Journal one thing you did this week that you feel supported being a great teammate (action).
  • Journal one thing you learned from the assigned chapter this month from the book, “The Ideal Team Player” by Patrick Lencioni (self-directed learning and application accountability).

These four bullet points illustrate an amazingly simple Journal-Based Coaching strategy. This example could be integrated with traditional training and coaching. In addition, the journal itself could be an interactive digital asset that is either turned in and/or shared for full accountability. Because the journal can be turned in to the manager/coach, Journal-Based Coaching provides one of the easiest ways to ensure accountability during the training and coaching process.

Examples of Journal-Based Coaching

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Guy & O’Neill, Inc., a manufacturing firm in Wisconsin, used Journal-Based Training and Coaching for its internal leadership program. It maintained the program during the pandemic due to its unique approach. Participants maintain a journal, writing what they have learned and observed as leaders. The journaling is used at quarterly sessions with upper-level management, and at a committee meeting where leaders in the Journal-Based Coaching Program share what they have learned about their position, what they have learned about themselves, and their goals moving forward. This approach ensures people who genuinely want to become better leaders must journal to professionally prepare for these sessions.

“It’s a unique approach that ensures people are improving and learning without having to attend virtual sessions,” notes Jennifer Engert, Human Resources manager at the company. “This process also has provided us insight into how people are feeling, what they are learning, what they are applying, and, most importantly, where they feel they are having successes and challenges. This provides us specific insight to help our leaders grow.”

Another organization using Journal-Based Coaching is the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team’s Sales and Customer Service departments. An experienced coaching organization already, the Milwaukee Brewers wanted to take their talent development to the next level. “We have been working with Progress Coaching for the last 15 years and have been thrilled with coaching,” says Billy Friess, senior director of Ticket Sales. “Since the implementation of the Progress Coaching Training System, we have experienced incredible growth and talent development, as well as retention. We have used Journal-Based Coaching the last few years as part of our talent development strategy and it’s been amazing. We use the journal entries to deal with our staff’s real-world challenges. This has positioned us to train and coach specific to their needs and not what we think are their needs.”

Mike Carroll, a nationally known sales training and coaching expert from Intelligent Conversations, began using Journal-based Coaching with his clients a few months ago during the pandemic. “I started using Journal-Based Coaching in my coaching practice. It has provided me and my clients a creative alternative to traditional coaching that saves time and drives greater results. It’s a great way to ensure training and coaching are being applied,” he explains. “It really simplifies the process of accountability and does not require virtual calls.”

Journal-Based Coaching and Training provides a unique way to ensure learning application and accountability with the additional benefit that it does not require any in-person time with the manager or being online for a virtual call. This saves time and decreases online fatigue. It is an effective alternative and supplement to traditional training and coaching.

Tim Hagen, Chief Officer, Progress Coaching
Tim Hagen is the CEO of Progress Coaching and the creator of the Journal-Based Coaching Training System. Hagen is a coaching author, speaker, and an expert in workplace coaching. He has authored numerous coaching books and provides public Webinars and podcasts. For more information, e-mail: or call 262.421.5650.