The words training and coaching are regularly used interchangeably. While both are vital ways to improve and develop employees, they are best used at different times, utilising different techniques.
Training is the process of instructing or teaching skill or knowledge. This may be information regarding a product, process, procedure or skills such as selling techniques.
In a workplace, training is provided to ensure employees have the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to do their jobs competently. As training is often conducted at the time employment is commenced, the term ‘in training’ or the title ‘trainee’ may be used. Training can also be provided for existing or long term employees, when new instruction or information needs to be transferred. For example, the introduction of a new policy, procedure, product or service.
Training can be delivered one or one or in a group environment. While training can be conducted on the job, it is commonly provided in a more formal manner, such as in a class room, via structured sessions or even eLearning modules.
Coaching occurs after training, once a person already has the skill or knowledge. Rather than educating or instructing as is done in training, the focus is on how the person applies that skill and knowledge on the job.
Coaching, should always be one on one, as its best tailored to an individual. It is less formal, adapting to the situation and needs of the person being coached. Providing a supportive environment in which the coach guides a person’s development through encouraging them to reflect and identify their own opportunities for improvement, is the key to effective coaching.
Training without coaching is almost doomed for failure. While training may have a short term impact on a person’s confidence and performance, this is unlikely to be sustained without ongoing coaching. Trainees must evolve into coachees, where a behavioural approach is taken to develop a plan or strategy on how they will apply the learned skills and knowledge in real life situations.
Without training, there is unlikely to be long term application of concepts learned. If a person is not encouraged to use newly learned skills and knowledge, it is quickly forgotten.
While refresher training may be provided at intervals, effective coaching is ongoing. As obstacles arise, skills develop and other factors come into play, coaching can see a person’s confidence grow, motivation levels reach an all-time high and their potential reached.