In her blog post on 7 January, Redmos director Dee Allan wrote:
It has to be said, gone are the days when remuneration alone could attract people. For quite a number of years, and perhaps more so today, training and development has become one of the key 'swaying' factors, for someone deciding to accept a job or not.
Most of us know that training can be a very expensive commitment. You are often shelving out heaps of money, without any guarantees of a return, and perhaps will have to endure a time-lag between your staff receiving the training, and producing the desired result. However, like it, love it, or loathe it, providing some sort of training is a major factor to ensure you have a happy, healthy and wise work force. This in turn helps with staff retention rates and hopefully growth of the company.
For the smaller companies though, lack of budgets may pose a problem when trying to satisfy your bottom line versus your staff members. However with a little creativity and panache, there may be a solution. Have you ever considered implementing a mentor style coaching or buddy program? Coaching in my opinion is different to traditional training.
Coaching is more associated with using the strengths of your existing team, to bridge the knowledge gap of certain individuals or new recruits. It is in effect 'on the job' training. For example, if Monica (our fictitious Admin Assistant) happens to be darn good at working power point, then why not ask Monica to coach Lee (our fictitious new recruit) how to create a powerful presentation for his next sales pitch? Alternatively if Arun (our fictitious web developer) understands how Web 3.0 is changing the way we conduct business, why not have him coach Leanne (our fictitious Marketing manager) on how to maximize on the power of the web to get her PR message to the masses.
What I'm trying to illustrate is that often we overlook the strength of skills and knowledge within our prevailing team. Coaching or implementing a 'buddy system', allow you to harness the strength of what you already have at your fingertips. One can then complement coaching with more traditional forms of training.
Funnily enough it is more often than not, within human nature to want to help other people. Hence your team will probably respond positively to being asked to mentor/coach/buddy up with someone, on a particular topic, or for a length of time. Not only that, there is the age-old adage of empowerment and positive breeds positive. 'Coachees' often find themselves within the role of 'Coach' when it is their turn to 'pass on the golden nuggets of knowledge'. Additionally the 'one to one' nature of coaching means attention and responsiveness is often high. Compare that with sitting in a classroom style of training, when the sound of the presenter's voice starts to hurt your ears, and the clock hands can't reach 5pm quick enough.
Coaching is versatile and flexible and can be immediate. Employees often find themselves trouble-shooting through problems to find the solution, as opposed to be told the theory from a text-book or training manager.
Of course one of the biggest attractions to in-house coaching is the cost benefits. It is often a rapid and wise investment, where the cost is the 'time' that coaches spend away from their daily tasks. That said, one would be wise to spread the coaching responsibilities around the team, and play to different strengths of the prevailing internal talent you have. This employee empowerment approach creates a positive environment, where staff feel valued and are therefore more willing to share their knowledge. 'Coachees' have the opportunity to listen, question and test the ideas in an intimate more personal format (they also often feel valued, that someone from within the company is taking a heightened interest in their learning).
Like I said, positive breads positive. Coaching is not a replacement for training, it is essentially an 'add on'. Think of coaching like 'sharpening a pencil', the pencil may have worked before, but once sharpened it writes clearer, quicker and more concise sentences. Coaching is a rapid solution to many issues requiring a 'quick fix'. Therefore results can be immediate (not quite what you would get if that training course you are booked on is in 6 weeks time!). They say time is money and I can't agree more. Time spent effectively coaching, saves you money down the line with training.
Coaches are born and can also be taught. Granted, some people have a natural affinity when it comes to coaching compared to others. However most people respond positively to being asked for help or support. They almost get a 'kick' out of knowing that they can be beneficial to someone, or their knowledge can 'make something happen' This must release positive endorphins, as most people's ego would get a boost.
With training, the general format is to dictate the message in a teacher-student format. However coaching is more versatile, whilst 'teacher-student' format may exist, so might 'shadowing' the Coach during a meeting with a client, or 'observing' the Coach during a presentation to suppliers, or 'following' the Coach's lead when negotiating a rate with your customers. Coaching really can allow your staff to acquire your other team member's skills, by creating richer dialogue between the parties concerned, hence ingraining the knowledge on a more lasting basis.
Coaching can be tailored to be a longer running program, or an 'on demand' tool. The beauty with allocating coaching responsibilities or allowing people to 'step up to the plate' where coaching is concerned, is that problems and issues can be ironed out straight away. If Lee (our fictitious new recruit again) has a client that wants him to deliver his proposal in 48 hours, then perhaps Monica (our fictitious Admin Assistant) can assume her 'Coach' or 'Buddy' role to ensure that Lee can deliver the presentation on time. In this example, the 'on demand' coaching Monica provides to Lee, allows them both to deal with a real problem facing the business, which could eventually impact the productivity of the company.
Positive actions breed positive results. In summary, coaching is a useful management tool, which apart from being resourceful and versatile, allows sends a subliminal message to team members and new recruits, that the company give a damn!
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