The terms training and coaching are usually used interchangeably, as people usually think that they can deploy both of them for the same purpose, which is wrong. In reality, they are two completely different methods, and you should choose which to use properly, in accordance with the objectives and the desired impact. But let’s take a look at them separately, to shed some light on the differences.
The learning and development sector focuses a lot on the training processes and on the professional and personal development of employees with the help of learning programs. The decision to invest in learning programs is usually driven by the desire to decrease knowledge and skills gaps and to give employees all the tools and information they need to perform their daily responsibilities. The main characteristics of training are that it is learning focused, it should provide new knowledge and skills and it is usually structured.
For example, in the IT sector, new technologies appear so often that training is required in order to keep up with the ever changing IT industry. Also, the dynamic of the business environment changes frequently, which calls for business learning programs to prepare employees to take over new approaches to business, new methodologies, such as Agile, and a totally new mindset, in accordance with requirements of the field.
Coaching, on the other hand, is used with the purpose of helping people to move forward through action and get over certain professional obstacles that keep them stuck. According to the Business Journals, coaching “should be an on-going activity with each of the employees, designed to keep everyone on track”. The main characteristics of coaching are that it is focused on development, it facilitates the process of decision-making and it is used to improve performance, without being formally structured, in comparison with a training program.
For example, companies usually work with an Agile coach, who helps organizations and teams to implement agile practices and methodologies, with the purpose of enforcing more efficient and cohesive teams, enabling better results.
In most organizations, both training and coaching are organized by the L&D departments, to achieve growth and development organizational objectives. The main difference is that training is information and learning related, where coaching is not necessarily based on sharing information, but rather on changing behaviors and methodology. Also, training can happen a few times a year, based on the skills gaps and on the time availability of the people involved, whereas coaching should happen more often. As Laurie Glover, organizational development professional and CEO of QSTS said, “offering five minutes coaching each week is better than 30 minutes once a month”.
Some (final) thoughts
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