News abuzz on the training scene following the recent Singapore Budget 2010 – all the talk about boosting productivity through more training. I am all for training but without the coaching connection, training by itself would not be enough to sustain long-term change to reap the benefits training provides.
I have an interesting conversation with a friend of mine who is a professional soft skill trainer and a trained coach a few days ago. We were discussing how we could develop programmes that use both training and coaching to enhance their effectiveness. He is concerned over reports that appear to portray a rather skewed focus on technical training leaving little space for soft skills training, although more recent news started reporting on promoting sales and marketing training even for technical staff. I applaud that move as they signal a more balanced view. Nonetheless any spotlight on training is good news for trainers.
I liken technical and soft skills training to IQ and EQ. A proportionate balanced IQ/EQ has served many successful leaders and entrepreneurs well and a good concoction of technical and soft skills would likewise do more good than harm, forming a more rounded skill sets to meet any challenge.
Training unfortunately, and in particular since the economic crisis, is seen by many as more of a frivolous rather than a valuable undertaking, in spite of all the incentives provided by the government. I followed with great interest the comments posted on one of the LinkedIn group discussion on the value of training, both of in-house as well as external training programmes. Some lamented on how some companies still do not recognize the value training brings while others are buoyant about the training future.
It is not surprising that there are such wide ranging views on the effects of training. I often have conflicting views of training not because I do not believe in training. On the contrary, I am a strong supporter for continuous learning and training is certainly one of the ways to go except that a better post-training management is called for to enhance the effectiveness. That, sadly is missing or very under-developed.
I have my fair share of training and I have noticed that a majority goes for training courses for the wrong reasons, i.e. not necessarily to improve their skills and knowledge. Attending any training for the wrong reason would certainly give raise to negative reports and impressions. Some genuinely want to improve and see the training provided as God-sent but whatever the intention may be, there will always be some who will return energized and ever ready to try out the new skills only to fall back on old habits after a few weeks, or at best a few months.
This often resulted in companies wary of sending their employees to expensive courses to find out later that there is no significant improvement to speak of. I can hardly blame them but there is always a flip side of things. In spite of training having been around for several decades there are very few people who know how to manage post-training measurement and have proper follow through to ensure that the skills and knowledge are applied at the workplace consistently. Over time, the employees seeing no acknowledgement of their new behaviour return to old habits while management moan about the ineffectiveness of the training.
Workplace Coaching enters the scene as a complement to training. Often training takes a couple of days or a week or two while a coaching engagement spans over a few months. This is the first major difference but not the most significant.
Coaching is about applying and internalizing the skills learned. We all know that breaking a habit is very difficult and with just training alone, old habits will continue to lurk in the background waiting for the weak moments to resurface again. Coaching is about reinforcing new habits over the old for longer lasting change. Hence, coaching is training’s perfect partner for true transformation.
Coaching uses positive questioning skills to help coachees explore and make deliberated actions toward attaining their set SMART goals. By giving them enough time and space and in focusing on solutions using the skills and knowledge learned, coachees are thus able to develop longer lasting and enduring new thinking habits to gain personal breakthroughs.
Increasingly coaching is recognized as an important development tool so much so that some companies send their managers to coaching classes so they may use their new found skills to manage their staff more effectively. Still there are differences in deploying managers as coaches as opposed to having external coaches just as you would have external trainers instead of internal trainers.
What has become interesting is that the mindset about coaching is starting to change as the awareness of coaching benefits grows. In the days of old, when one is selected to be coached, he would feel insulted with the thought that only those who performed badly require a coach. How wrong they were as that is far from the truth. Today, however, managers hope they would be selected because those left alone would be perceived as being less important or not as valued by the management. So don’t reject being coached if offered. You may regret that decision.
You do not need to undergo any training before you are coached. Coaching can be applied in many different areas for personal development and growth, and workplace coaching touches only just one aspect of one’s life. If you have not been coached before and would like to try it out, find a coach who is willing to give you a free trial session. You may be surprised…