How to Conduct Cost-Effective Coaching

4/12/2021

Coaching is an underused staff development tool.

Most workplaces already have informal coaching taking place and it’s essential for learning. Everything from managers who review and critique their teams’ work, to peers who use their coworkers to bounce ideas and questions off of counts as a form of coaching. But spending time putting together a more formalized coaching program might be beneficial to your teams, particularly as a supplement to more rigorous and standardized training programs.

The Benefits of Coaching

  • Having too many mandatory sessions or online courses can be overwhelming for learners and expensive for employers. While organized, customized training is usually necessary to help organizations reach their goals through educating their employees, coaching can fill some of the gaps and create more cost-effective learning solutions.
  • Coaching doesn’t require anyone to travel or invest in any particular software. It can take place using existing organizational resources by anyone with the skills needed.
  • Coaching moves teams and cultures away from the idea that training is an event, rather than a process.
  • Coaching provides just-in-time learning, so employees can get the knowledge they need when they need it.
  • Coaching can be delivered in small doses instead of hours-long sessions.
  • Coaching can have a positive impact on employee culture, as it’s more relational and gives peers the opportunity to share knowledge and build respect and comradery.

 

What’s the Difference Between Mentorship and Coaching?

Mentorship and coaching have some similarities. Both involve person-to-person learning. Mentorship, however, is more about one person serving as an expert and guiding someone through specific goals, usually connected to career advancement. Coaching is usually used as-needed – a resource that can be sought out by many and provided by many. Coaching can be as simple as a quick Zoom walk-through about how to use a new publishing template.

 

What Can Coaching Look Like?

Coaching is cost-effective because it’s simple. There’s no need to build out programs or lengthy processes. The only thing necessary for coaching is someone with knowledge or skills connecting with someone who desires that knowledge.

  • Create a policy where IT leaders offer regular “office hours” where employees can drop in (in person or virtually) to ask a questions for an hour once a week.
  • Use the existing intranet to connect people with the things they want or need to learn. If someone in sales wants to write better emails to clients, they might find and connect with someone in marketing to discuss best practices.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer training or education for certain outcomes instead of exclusively relying on a top-down learning approach.

The knowledge that many of your employees need is probably already held by existing members of your team. It likely wouldn’t make sense for your organization to stop using a fully developed onboarding system and instead have employees only shadow another team member for weeks. But it’s possible that for some positions in some industries, a combination of the two (formalized courses and informal, hands-on coaching) can be helpful; utilizing the knowledge base of your team to fill the gaps and offer insights can be a valuable part of your overall learning strategy.

While coaching isn’t the right way to transfer knowledge for every learning scenario (it's unlikely to be a successful replacement for eLearning courses in an age of fully remote teams, for instance), it can play a valuable role in how your teams learn and develop.

Get in touch with us for a free consultation so we can discuss your training needs and identify what goals should be driven by more structured learning and what team mentors and coaches can support.

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