Training, mentoring, coaching and managing – so many verbs, so little time. As a business leader or manager, there are many ways we go about trying to improve the skills and performance of our teams, largely through proactive training and coaching – but what defines these two activities from one another, and in what ratio should we be doing them?
First, understanding the difference.
Training: by definition, it means ‘the action of teaching a person (or animal) a particular skill or behaviour’. The aim is to increase an individual’s productivity, capability and performance through learning something new. Training is essentially the act of transferring knowledge – knowledge which you possess, and the individual being trained does not, yet.
Coaching: whilst certainly considered a form of training, coaching is about enhancing an existing skill or skills, rather than teaching a new one. Coaching is to be carried out by someone who’s experienced in the matter, helping another individual understand how to better conduct the skill in question; demonstrating, leading by example and mentoring to improve on what they know already.
Is it important to do both?
Training your staff not only grows the tool set they use to do their job, but keeps them challenged and engaged; that it can naturally lead to promotion and progression makes training one of the main keys to improving retention and reducing turnover. Coaching is just as important – as humans, particularly those working in the corporate world, we’re always looking for self-improvement, higher performance; ways to do things ‘better’. Coaching your employees on an ongoing basis and showing them, from your own or someone else’s experience, a better way to do things is going to allow them to remain creative, motivated and fulfilled in their role.
To answer the question, yes, it’s crucial to do both; take a well-rounded approach to learning, whether it’s been specified as something the employee must learn to carry out their duties (e.g. learning a new piece of software), or it’s simply something which would benefit all parties were it done better (for instance, sales coaching to increase conversion rates).
So, which should I be doing with my staff?
Once you have the above definitions in mind, it becomes easier to know whether you should be coaching your staff or training them.
Training is something which can be done in a group setting; imparting knowledge to more than one person at the same time
Training usually takes a very structured approach; it will follow a set path which needs to be done in a certain order for it to be understood
Training is frequently held off-site, online or otherwise; it’s not something which is usually done fully ‘on the job’
Coaching will usually be conducted in a one-on-one setting; it requires attention as to where the person’s skill level sits currently (compared to training, where the idea is that everyone begins at zero)
More often than not, coaching will be unstructured; it involves ongoing communication and change to be effective
Coaching usually takes place ‘on the job’ – it requires input from the activity being coached itself in order to achieve real results
One thing is for sure, training without coaching rarely works. Picking up an employee or team and dropping them into a classroom for a day (or more!) then sending back to their day job with no follow-up or ongoing reflection is pretty close to a waste of time and money. But a piece of great and relevant training that is supported by ongoing and regular coaching is likely to lead to significant and clear returns.
And, finally, how does knowing all of this positively impact my staff turnover rate?
It’s really important that business leaders understand the difference between coaching and training; knowing what your employees want and need with regards to their development within the company fundamentally comes down to learning. Should they be aiming to learn a new skill? Is this what will push their career forward and land them a promotion into the role they’re hoping for? Or, will simply honing one of the skills they use already be the thing which helps them reach their goal?
Of course, there’s a huge cross over between the two – training and coaching can often be done at the same time. And understanding which of them is going to help your employees progress will go a long way to ensuring they’re satisfied, engaged and motivated to stay with your organisation. The definition between training and coaching goes further than your management style and business leadership; it touches upon the ongoing development of each and every staff member, the structure of your company, and the longevity your employees see within it as a result.
With 20 years of working in recruitment and headhunting, I’ve seen the insides of many companies and it’s those with a balance of both that have typically demonstrated consistent growth. I’m proud of running a business which truly helps others to define, execute and improve their human capital strategy and the right mix of training and coaching must form a part of it.
Certus are more than just a recruitment company; get in touch to hear more about partnering with a Certus Recruitment Group company and what we can do to help your business grow, today.