Coaching isn’t therapy, it’s product development with you as the product

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Coaching as a method of learning drives more productivity and ensures better turnaround

The terms coaching and training are often used interchangeably in the corporate learning environment, and this can often lead to confusion. Many do not understand the difference between coaching and training, while there is a huge difference between the two.

Training is about transferring knowledge while coaching is about enhancing knowledge (or skills). Both training and coaching have their respective places in each company. L&D professionals should generally use trainings for Induction, upgrade or reskill in areas of Technology, process changes and behavioural or soft skills.

Coaching on the other hand, is being viewed as a vital tool for employee skill development. People who receive coaching have been known to exhibit a higher level of self-confidence, enhanced work performance thereby leading to career progress and development, and a stronger ability to communicate their thoughts, goals and mindsets.

Companies, who have made the decision to invest time and money in coaching, have regained the investment madethrough improved organisational performance and a satisfied workforce who are eager to work harder to achieve their individual and organisational goals. This makes coaching a way to apply learning in an informed way.

Training is about transferring knowledge while coaching is about enhancing knowledge (or skills). Both training and coaching have their respective places in each company

What’s most important to remember is — training and coaching are not mutually exclusive.

A trainer provides his employees with the knowledge and skills they need for their job. This could be a short-term course or a one-time thing and it is generally specific, focussed and structured and most often, planned for in advance. Teaching is somewhat similar and is primarily a one-way interaction that involves passing of knowledge and skills from the ‘one that is learned’ to the ‘one that is learning’.

Coaching goes one step ahead of teaching and training. It aims to create a setting in which one is keen to learn by themselves and discover their untapped potential. It involves a two-way interaction, is known to be cyclical and ongoing, and requires steady observation and the provision of continued feedback based on these observations. The most appreciable aspect of the benefits of coaching is the ‘connected paybacks’ that come through to the organisation. For instance:

  • Coaching helps and guides employees to discover their true potential and thus also helps HR identify the high potential personnel within the organisation
  • Coaching builds resilience and encourages assertiveness. Ideas and thoughts are expressed more freely, opening up added opportunities for discussion and debate between employer, employee and staff

Effective coaching creates a team culture where employees look forward to sharing opinions and feedback, without apprehension of how they might be judged within the workplace by superiors and teammates. It pushes employees to their achievable limits, getting the best out of them while taking them out of their comfort zones.

Leaders and managers will need to be able to do more than just teach or manage. They will need to be taught to coach, to better comprehend their role in the coach-student relationship

Good coaching also involves being prepared to face failure when your employee fails. In such situations, it is vital to remain optimistic and solution-driven rather than playing the blame game. A decent coach does not ignore failure, but he does not deride his employees for it either. Instead, he encourages them to come up with effective resolutions to resolve such situations.

The future of coaching lays in its integration with leadership development programs. Classroom teaching aside, people will be exposed to practical problem-solving, besides theoretical knowledge.

Leaders and managers will need to be able to do more than just teach or manage. They will need to be taught to coach, to better comprehend their role in the coach-student relationship. In the event of a low availability of sound coaching within an organisation, coaches may be external, especially keeping in mind the millennial milieu of regular and healthy feedback that goes both ways.

If it hasn’t already, coaching as a method of learning is on its way to becoming one of the most ‘on trend’ aspects of organisational culture.  Remember, coaching isn’t therapy, it’s product development with you as the product.

(The author is Senior Vice President at TeamLease Services )

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