We all know that training is an integral part of our personal and professional development. But what about coaching? Coaching has been perceived as a lot of things, but up to recently, has rarely been synonymous with Training, especially technical-style training. Some interesting facts have come from research over the years about the ROI (Return On Investment) of training: Organisations seek immediate feedback from staff attending training, which is generally positive. They believe that the long-term effects are also positive and improve on performance An increase in skills and knowledge is evident from the result of appropriate training Other in-tangible benefits are also realised, such as improved morale, self-esteem, confidence and increased loyalty, commitment and performance However, many organisations find that the training had little impact on the trainees, and their performance. This could be down to many factors including: Lack of TNA (training needs analysis) Politics within HR or amongst leaders Skills or knowledge are not lacking but there is a breakdown in attitude Lack of communication between decision makers and Managers/Supervisors Incorrect understanding of skills required for specific tasks Training not implemented correctly Training too generic – not specific enough Lack of support at organisational level Ironically, the support a trainee receives will impact on success greater than the training itself. Consider the old saying “You can lead a horse to water… but you cannot make it drink” How can you coax a horse to drink? If it is thirsty, little coaxing is required, however if you know the horse needs to drink but he doesn’t feel like it, certain encouragement is required. Like the horse, learners can choose to be disinterested, or not see the benefits, or simply believe they do no have the time to take a day out for training. The Conscious-Competence Model is a great model to use to distinguish the stage of competency of a skill for an employee, and can be used to determine exactly what level of training is required. It is the 3rd stage, Conscious Competence that the learning will stick the best, when the learner knows they have learned a new skill. This is the critical stage of support and encouragement, and this is the stage where coaching is imperative. Coaching will ensure the learner understands why they need to learn, and empower them to take their learning to the next level. But most of all, the learner makes the conscious decision to retain the information. The most important questions to ask a learner are “Did you find the training helpful?” and “How/where will you implement this learning?”. The next step is to ask them if they need further support or guidance as they increase their self-confidence in completing necessary tasks. Now, the learner is self-empowered to take responsibility for their learning, know consciously where to apply it and be confident that they can seek further support. The coach’s work is almost complete. Too often, organisations provide a “lip-service” feedback system some months after training is completed. This serves to comply with the requirements of the PDP (Personal Development Plan) of the learner. It is important that the support structure put in place during the learning process is extended, and a proper evaluation is completed on a continuous basis for the benefit of the learner and the organisation. This will help expel the “fear of failure” an employee may have about their newly acquired skills, and the lure to revert back to old habits. The coach needs to be present here, and encourage the learner to continue the implementation of the new skills. This is done successfully using active listening and providing feedback in a supportive and encouraging way. So who is your coach when you are in a learning environment? Is it your Manager, your Supervisor, your peers, or do you use an external coach to aid your learning process? Share with us below!