Training or Coaching: How to Determine Learning & Development Needs

Last month I hoped to convince any skeptics on the importance and value of training, particularly when looking to motivate and retain Millennials. As we look closer at how to inspire your overall workforce, organizations often use the terms “training” and “coaching” interchangeably, which can lead to confusion for managers and employees. Both are necessary to create a healthy work environment. Understanding the principal differences between training and coaching can help managers make sure they are using the right tools for the right tasks. If that is possible, then everyone wins.

When Is It Coaching?

Coaching often gets a bad rap, especially when it is used to deliver critical or constructive feedback. Rather, it should be used as an on-going communication tool with each of your employees, designed to keep them at peek performance.

Key Characteristics:

  • Encourages ownership and decision-making
  • Typically conducted one-on-one
  • Tends to be informal or unstructured
  • Goal is to improve individual behavior and overall performance

When Is It Training?

Customarily, training is utilized for such things as onboarding new employees and changes in a process and/or procedure in support of your culture and overall brand strategy. It can also support updates in technology and introduce new regulations and compliance. Overall, employees are learning something specific and it is often a one-time event.

Key Characteristics:

  • Provides new or updated knowledge and skills
  • Often takes place in a collaborative, group setting
  • Designed to have structure in how it’s delivered
  • Goal is to take employees to a new higher level of performance

“Know the difference between ‘training’ and ‘coaching’ employees,” Laurie Glover wrote in The Business Journals. So, now we know how training and coaching are related, yet different, with communication tools being applied for specific reasons. For the purpose of training, here are four components that need to be taken into consideration for effective learning to take place:

  1. When do you train?
  2. What is trained?
  3. Who is delivering the training?
  4. Where do you train?

For now, we will look at the first component. I will follow up with the others in another installment.

When Do You Train?

“Customer experience is the new marketing,” according to Steve Cannon, the CEO Mercedes-Benz. Your employees build your company’s brand from the inside out. The perception they leave with your customers is how your brand will be known. Of course, the goal is to create brand advocates. Companies that are aligned culturally are six times more successful, especially when your employees understand what is expected of them and how they are to deliver on those expectations.

When you have new knowledge or a skill to communicate to members of your team, consider the following. Can it be easily communicated and explained in a quick conversation? Does it need to be put into an eLearning module for self-paced learning? Does it need to be put into a structured, classroom setting?

Research shows us that 60% of training happens on the job when your managers and supervisors are imparting knowledge and direction. 20% happens through formal and informal feedback and coaching and 20% comes from formal training in the classroom or online eLearning.

Structured Training

This more formal method of learning can be the most complex to accomplish effectively, particularly in most company’s fast-paced culture. When designing structured training, many factors can dictate the format, including the complexity of the information and employee accountability. In today’s learning environment, there is tremendous value in two-way dialogue, often called “storytelling,” for the successful transference of knowledge. In the end, you must determine what will make this learning resonate with your employees and “stick” with them, particularly if the outcomes are to be measurable.

Next time we will go deeper into how to design and deliver learning experiences that provides value to both your organization and the learners involved. In the meantime, take a look at what training exists within your organization and ask yourself is it relevant to your current goals and in support of your culture and brand.

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