Tuesday, December 21, 2010

To Train or To Coach--That is the Question

Does our team need training or coaching?

Because I specialize in emotional intelligence, companies often contact me when they are having a problem---conflict, poor communication, or lack of healthy assertiveness in the team. But digging deeper, I soon learn that the problems often stem from only a few employees. Then why train everyone? Perhaps there’s a desire to “not single out” these workers. Or the company thinks that the best value comes from getting large numbers into the training room.

Coaching may be a better answer for several reasons.
1. The larger the group, the harder it is to customize training for the needs, learning styles, and questions of every group member. Even if I allow time for questions and pair-sharing, it isn’t possible for each person to tell me their unique issues and concerns. Coaching allows me to give a laser-like focus to the individual. We won’t waste time on irrelevant topics (that may be vital to someone else).

2. Any resentment at “being singled out,” should disappear quickly. Coaching is a profound gift from the company. It demonstrates the company’s commitment to the employee – and shows (through hard earned cash) how much he/she is valued.

3. The workers who most need training will receive more individual time and attention. I will be able to fully teach listening techniques or emotional awareness, without needing to rush through key skills. I’ll be able to answer questions, objections, or confusions.

4. During the coaching session, through intense listening, I can create trust and build a bridge of empathy. I’ll have time to help the employee understand the “whys” of a skill, not just the “how.” The participant will be more motivated, knowing that the session is being tailored just for him/her. Conversely, a large group in training may be less engaged. They may feel that the training isn’t really meant for them. The few employees who really need the training are also less open. They don’t see the need, or they resent the plan.

How much is a calmer, more efficient workplace worth? While it may look more economical to train larger numbers, if our goal is to solve problems at work, one on one coaching may be a better solution.
© 2010 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

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