Why is Coaching More Effective than Training in Business?
Any organization in order to operate efficiently with maximum productivity requires skilled and trained staff. Such expertise is developed not just by repetition of tasks, but becomes possible after intensive and extensive training, depending on the nature of work. Such training has long been employed in business environments across the world, and fruitful results have been obtained. People have been found to be more productive and efficient in their delivery of services, be it operation of some machinery, or rendering of some services to clients such as phone banking etc.
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However, the training phenomenon has not always been as successful as initially been anticipated. People have been found returning back to old ways of doing things, committing the same mistakes and reverting to same old levels of productivity and efficiency. Coaching in organizations has been observed to overcome the setbacks of training phenomenon, through continuous link between coach and employees and incorporation of the newly learnt methods and ways into the daily routine tasks for a continued period of time. This essay will explore the ways coaching differs from training and the reasons that make coaching more effective than training in business environments.
Body of Essay
With regards to scope and direction, McGehee (1949) noted that the dictionary definition of training was relatively narrow, applicable only to those processes involved in gaining proficiency in a specific skill or competence. McGehee saw industrial training as much broader in scope with programs also designed to induct the new worker, improve the performance of experienced workers and managers, and to “inform the worker concerning basic economics and to counteract collectivistic ideology” (McGehee, 1949)
Training has characteristically been micro in its direction, with a spotlight on individual education, progress, and transformation. This is factual regardless of the verity that, in any case at a theoretical level, “training needs assessment (McGehee, Thayer, 1961), evaluation (Kirkpatrick, 1967), and instructional design models (Goldstein, 1992) assert that training should be designed to support and contribute to clearly articulated organizational goals. In practice, however, training activities are generally focused at the individual level, including needs analysis (Ostroff, Ford, 1989), delivery programs (Salas, et.al 1992), and evaluation criteria (Alleger, Janak, 1989). This can be attributed to the dominance of instructional theory in training, which is based on individual-level models of change. An inherent assumption is that the individual level is the source of organizational-level change.” (http://io.psy.msu.edu/koz/trnsf.html)
Coaching has been around in some form for hundreds of years. Since the middle ages, apprentices have bartered their time and labor to obtain the skills and knowledge of a craft or business. Many businesses today accept interns (often unpaid) who do the grunt work in order to learn from their elders. When businesses got serious about coaching higher-level employees, however, the job was usually outsourced to consultants for the most senior-level managers. The work, primarily provided by psychologists, was a combination of intellectual and psychological assessment and confidential therapeutic interactions. Such assessment and coaching was typically used for succession planning and/or to help a “difficult” person fit in with other senior-level executives. Problem employees were viewed as having personality issues; problems were rarely described in behavioral terms.
Times have changed. The business environment has become more competitive and the workforce less loyal. Retention is a competitive strategy, and employees at all levels expect to be treated with respect and included in decisions that affect them. How leaders treat their employees, peers, and customers has a direct correlation to bottom-line results. The prevalence of coaching in organizations has recently seen resurgence. Part of the interest in coaching stems from the increasing popularity of executive coaching. (Graddick, Lane1998) note that the use of external executive coaches is an increasingly popular trend in corporations.
The renewed interest in coaching is not limited to external executive coaching. Waldroop and Butler (1996) have highlighted the role of internal coaching (managers serving as coaches). Kilburg's (1996) study provides a useful review of the coaching literature. His work points out that there is very little empirical, rigorous study of the effects of coaching in business. Kilburg has noted that the application of coaching to the art and practice of management has been growing rapidly although the scientific basis for these applications is limited at this time.
Kilburg (1996) defined executive coaching as: “A helping relationship formed between a client who has managerial authority and responsibility in an organization and a consultant who uses a wide variety of behavioral techniques and methods to help the client achieve a mutually identified set of goals to improve his or her professional performance and personal satisfaction and, consequently, to improve the effectiveness of the client's organization within a formally defined coaching agreement” (Killburg, 1996, p. 142)
A less formal definition from Hall, Otazo, and Hollenbeck (1999) states that executive coaching is “a practical, goal-focused form of personal one-to-one learning for busy executives. It may be used to improve performance, to improve or develop executive behaviors, to work through organizational issues, to enhance a career, or to prevent derailment” (Hall, et al., 1999, p. 40). Harris' (1999) definition says simply that executive coaching is “an on-going, one-on-one learning process enabling people to enhance their job performance” (Harris, 1999, p. 38).
Referring to managers as coaches (i.e., internal coaches), Kinlaw (1996) defined coaching as “a disciplined conversation, using concrete performance information, between a leader and an individual or a team that results in the continuous improvement of performance” (Kinlaw, 1996, p. 21). Moreover, Waldroop and Butler (1996) “described coaching as just plain good management, requiring such generic management skills as keen powers of observation, sensible judgment, and an ability to take appropriate action”.
Coaching is a leadership development method that has become highly popular. Firms hire external coaches to assist their top leaders in obtaining, understanding, and applying performance feedback. Also, organizations expect managers at all levels to coach the people who report to them. Coaching helps managers use available feedback to enhance their self-knowledge and adjust their behavior to increase their effectiveness. James Smither and Susanne Reilly (2001) highlight the elements of person perception that affect the coaching process. They suggest a five-stage model of effective coaching: (a) establishing the coaching link, (b) assessment, (c) goal setting and development planning, (d) implementation, and (e) evaluating progress and the coaching relationship.
Establishing the coaching relationship requires understanding how schemas shape attributions motives for self-knowledge, impression management tactics, and the role of liking and reciprocity in compliance and persuasion. Assessment involves the influence of the coach's schemas, correspondent inferences (the tendency to underestimate the power of situations compared to dispositions), self-deception and inflated self-views, and receptivity to feedback when knowing that a coach is looking at performance data. Goal setting is affected by principles of goal and control theories, implementation intentions, and an orientation toward maximizing positive outcomes (promotion focus) versus negative outcomes (prevention focus). Implementation is affected by self-efficacy, self-fulfilling prophecies, irrational persistence, and self-handicapping.
Finally, evaluating progress is affected by the individual's tendency to slot feedback into a specific self-schema and the extent to which the individual has a broad conceptualization versus a narrow conceptualization of possible self. In light of the person perception and social psychological phenomena related to the different stages of coaching, Smither and Reilly review how coaches can understand and manage employees' expectations about the coaching experience, help employees become comfortable with heightened self-awareness, and help them minimize their biases and illusions.
Coaching is fundamentally a high-impact interaction. Coaches influence the beliefs and attitudes of the leaders they work with and help them expand their options when responding to difficult situations. The coach's role is to affect the leader's thinking and behavior in ways that may not only have broad-based business results but can be important to the leader's career for years to come. Coaching, in general, is a process that requires commitment, honesty, diplomacy, and insight into human nature. Because coaching is personal, goal-focused, and ongoing, it is ideally suited to providing the kind of support leaders need to build new skills and the habits required to sustain improved behaviors.
The key is that competencies can be learned and that coaching is the most effective strategy to ensure that new behavior is sustained over time. Competencies, or the lack of them, are behaviors that have grown into habits. Certain habits, such as poor listening and overreacting to stressful situations, are learned and are not easily changed. Coaching for competencies is distinctive because it goes beyond helping someone solve an immediate problem. It is making a longer-term commitment to the development of that person's leadership potential. Specifically, coaching for competencies is a process that fosters awareness and ongoing, sustained behavioral change, using data from multiple sources that leads to enhanced business success. Several key parts that make this useful definition and more effective than training are as follows:
A process – Coaching is not just a single conversation or a scheduled meeting that is part of the performance-management process. It is a commitment that requires the coach to establish and maintain a relationship, over time, with the leader being coached. That fosters awareness -To improve performance on competencies, leaders must be able to see how their behavior impacts others in a new way. The coach can help the leader achieve this new level of awareness through direct observation, by sharing data on how the leader is seen by others, and by providing the leader with a forum for reflecting on alternative solutions to dilemmas.
Ongoing sustained behavioral change -Achieving higher levels of performance requires not only pinpointing competencies on which to focus but also knowing what is required to maintain the new behavior over the long haul or in particularly challenging situations. Knowing what we can do better is not enough. Coaching helps leaders change their habits; these habits are the behavior patterns that can keep us from progressing.
Using data from multiple sources –Coaching for competencies is unique in that it requires input from people who work closely with the leader. While the coach should rely on his own perceptions and reactions to what the leader is saying, the leader's own perceptions are only part of the picture. Coaching for competencies requires an integrated approach to collecting and analyzing data from multiple sources. Leads to enhanced business success - Coaching for competencies has a clear purpose. It is about helping leaders achieve results that are tied to their organization's goals. It is about creating a winning situation for everyone, promoting personal growth within the context of improving business results.
Coaching for competencies is a process that provides the lubricant for achieving business success. The coaching relationship has the potential for deepening an individual's understanding of his or her influence on the organization and for strengthening the personal commitment to achieving that organization's goals and outcomes.
Training, in other words is teaching, in essence means imposing something on the trainee by the trainer. Human beings mostly do not enjoy or like to be controlled by others, or by others’ ideas. The ego matter evolves and disrupts the process of successful training. Eventually either training meets some degree of opposition or resistance by the trainees. And since the training usually involves teaching about a certain product or process, with the training session lasting for a specified period of time, its results turn out to be limited in their persistence. Coaching on the other hand, becomes a continuous phenomenon by establishing an ongoing behavioral change amongst the members of organization.
In an article by Jim Masson (2006), the comparison between training and coaching of sales staff is made to clarify the understanding of the two often misunderstood and taken-as-same phenomenon. Masson states, “Sales training is either conditioning or an attempt at reconditioning. It is the process of teaching various methods, sales tracks, tools, tips and strategies…. Sales coaching on the other hand, takes the position that the individual must assume personal responsibility for his or her life and career. Sales people are encouraged to examine their personal core values and then they are coached to make the adjustments that will allow improved outcomes in both their selling results and their personal lives.” (Masson, 2006)
Masson further says that while training has the theme of imposing, coaching on the contrary, and “creates a learning experience”. Such a method prevents the creation of any level of resistance. Eventually the results that come in the end are fruitful, positive as well as persistent. Masson states, “Sales coaching is an interactive process that provides guidance and encourages the salesperson to make productive decisions while taking personal ownership of those decisions. This technique will encourage the development and expansion of his/her own mind, resulting in not only increased levels of self-confidence but also higher self-esteem. This personal growth motivates the sales team member to seek out and create more successes in both his/her selling career and personal life. These successes and positive, adjusted behaviors are sure to put more money on your bottom line.” (Masson, 2006)
In any business environment, the need to grow and develop the employees in their respective jobs is vital to the success of any organization. Such development of skills and expertise is mostly achieved by training sessions, which is now getting replaced by coaching. The main difference between training and coaching is that training is for a specified period of time and the output is not very persistent, whereas the coaching provides sustained results. A coach, mostly the supervisor or the manager if not an external coach, is continuously mentoring the organizational members in their course of performing respective tasks. Such a continuous process of education and guidance without the people feeling being too much controlled proves to be more effective than the traditional training. Many large and successful organizations today are using coaching instead of training as a means of updating their employees regularly with the best practices of achieving their targets.
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