Friday, 25 February 2011

What are the differences between coaching and training?

When you are training someone, the implication is that you know something that they don’t. It is either some information that they don’t yet know about, have access to or understand, or it can be about helping them make the links between different strands of information or complexities that when pulled together can be described as being learned.

This acquisition of knowledge or the understanding of the links between different data sources or concepts can then be described as learning a skill or an approach that can then be applied successfully to future questions, scenarios, issues or activities. This is often the work that a teacher in education or a trainer in organisations is embarked upon.

Training differs from coaching in these ways:-
* It has a high knowledge content.
* The teacher or trainer is the expert who already possesses the necessary knowledge, approach or skill.
* This knowledge, approach or skill then passes from the teacher or trainer across to the student, trainee or learner.
* This new knowledge or skill which has been passed across can usually be tested in the student to assess whether or not it has been learned and understood and whether or not it can be applied by them.
* It is therefore judged and assessed externally.
* The teacher is the “master”, the student is subservient, where as the coach and coachee are equals.
* The teacher tells the student what and how to do.
* The coach does not tell the coachee what to do.
* The coachee decides for themselves what is important and what and how to do about it.

Training is similar to coaching in these respects:-
* The successful transfer of this learning depends largely on the attitude and motivation of the subject – the student or coachee – as well as on the skill and approach of the teacher or coach.
* It is the student or coachee’s responsibility to make use of the learning and to ultimately decide what to do with it.
* The quality of the relationship between the coach and coachee and teacher and student can have a big impact on their success.
* The teaching or coaching environment is also a key factor.

In summary, non-directive coaching is quite different from teaching or training and it is helpful to both the coach and coachee to recognise these differences so that the coachee can take the maximum advantage of the coaching opportunity. The starting point to understanding this is available right at the start of the coaching process and it is best achieved by the coach explaining this different approach up front as part of the initial coaching session briefing.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Managing Pressure and Stress

I noticed on the Health and Safety Executive’s web site that the HSE estimate that in 2009 / 10, 9.8 million working days were lost through work-related stress, which equates to an annual loss of 0.42 days per worker. Indeed, other reports suggest that around 400,000 people in the UK admit to experiencing work-related stress. All of this amounts to a lot of people suffering from a range of symptoms such as poor sleeping patterns, sweating, and lack of appetite right up to mental health problems such as depression.

But what can we do about stress in a busy world where we are living in an ever changing environment?

My own view is that it is important to first differentiate between pressure and stress. Stress is the feeling of being under pressure. Some pressure in our lives is important because it can be stimulating and motivating and can help us to increase our productivity and improve our performance. However, if we have too much pressure or prolonged pressure over a period of time that exceeds our ability to cope, it can lead to stress.

This is an important point because while we will all experience unexpected and extreme pressure at various points in our lives, perhaps due to a family bereavement or significant illness, I believe that the majority of the stress I and many others experience are within our control to reduce and manage.

For example, probably one of the biggest causes of pressure (and consequently stress) we have is ourselves. Too often we set unrealistic expectations for our self (and other people) because we want to be the high achieving manager, be the perfect parent and have perfect a relationship with our spouse.

The following therefore are some tips I use to reduce both pressure and stress and hopefully you can use them in your life too.

1. Re-evaluate the expectations you have of yourself. What is it you really want to achieve? Are the expectations you have realistic?
2. Have a ‘to do’ list. This will enable you to evaluate whether you really have ‘too much to do’ or whether you are simply ‘doing too much’, (which may mean you have to say ‘no’ more often!). You can also make sure that you finish one task before starting the next one.
3. Recognise what you achieve. Strike things off your to do list after having completed them. At the end of the day, review how productive you were – it will give you a great deal more satisfaction.
4. Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparing yourself unfavourably with other people can be a strong source of internal stress. Learn to enjoy your personal qualities and achievements.
5. Make time for yourself and protect that time. This could be having lunch with friends, reading, going to the gym - whatever you enjoy doing.
6. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity 4/5 five times a week. Physical activity is an excellent way of relieving tension as well as releasing endorphins in to your body.
7. Share your concerns with a colleague, boss, friends or family. The old adage of a problem shared is a problem halved is true.
8. Get a good night sleep, and learn to relax. Avoid caffeinated drinks, alcohol, and using the computer or watching TV too close to bedtime.
9. Use your time more efficiently. For example do you spend a lot of time travelling by car? Would you benefit from using public transport more to complete work that you would otherwise complete after your drive.
10. Learn to meditate. Try to meditate for at least 15 minutes a day. Recent research suggests that regular meditation reduces stress.

Please try some of the above and see how much of a difference they make to you.

However, the final word on the matter should probably go to Alcoholics Anonymous who have the maxim:

‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference’

Friday, 11 February 2011

Putting Your People First ...

A number of years ago a colleague mentioned to me that business leaders should pay more attention to ‘the 3P’s’.

I was intrigued, was this just another management acronym or was there some substance behind what my colleague was saying?

The three P’s I was told stand for:
PEOPLE before
PRODUCT (or service) before
PROFIT (or performance).

The sequence and the word before each P are extremely significant. In other words, if you ensure your that your people are capable, creative and engaged, they will in turn produce great products (or services), which will lead to a successful, high performing and ultimately profitable business.

But how many businesses and organisations think in this way?

I have seen and worked for many who engaged in too much ‘top down’ thinking. They strive for profit and performance without thinking about whether they have the right people engaged in doing the right things.

We have all seen businesses pay huge salaries and big bonuses to focus staff on what needs to be achieved (e.g. sales and profit), and while bonuses can act as an ‘extrinsic motivator’, in reality they only provide a short term ‘Hawthorn’ effect, they do not truly engage staff and are soon forgotten.

So what does putting your People before Product and Profit mean?

I believe that if a business is going to truly put their people first they have to do a number of things. For example, they need to:

* Understand the innate skills and capabilities of the people they have.
* Be clear about what is expected from their managers and staff.
* Support their managers and staff to develop skills that will make them more effective in their jobs.
* Trust their people to do their job and give them the freedom to make their own decisions (within guidelines).
* Involve their staff in decisions that affect them more.
* Listen and pay attention to what their staff say, their concerns, and ideas for improvement, and ACT on them.
* Respond flexibly to the needs of their staff.

In addition, they need to recognise and understand that the culture of the business is dictated by the behaviour of its leaders and managers. The business must therefore work hard to support their leaders and managers to develop the necessary behaviours to enable them to act as excellent role models, and demonstrate on a day to day basis that they put their people first.

If a business truly desires to improve its performance, it must start with its people, their skills, capabilities, motivation and level of engagement. After all, Spain didn’t win the World Cup last year with a bunch of players who had the skills of a Sunday league side!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Why Management Development and Training pays off ...

by Lucy Cadman @ Developing People Ltd

I’ve worked for a number of businesses during my career, including a fair few who have lived in the dark ages when it comes to management development and training – in fact, when it comes to training and development of any sort whatsoever!! One business in particular springs to mind, and upon doing a little bit of investigation, I discover that even now (more than ten years later), the same CEO is in place, and there is the same rate of staff turnover and low morale that there was in my days there. In fact, I still regularly see the job I used to do being advertised in the local papers – I would estimate a staff turnover of probably 4 to 5 people a year in that one role alone!

Businesses that invest in management development and training will not only find it easier to recruit quality personnel, but they will also enjoy lower rates of staff turnover. Management training can also help to improve business performance and the company bottom line. Management training can cover many areas such as leadership, personal effectiveness, managing performance, developing influence and team development.

There can be real benefits to organisations investing in management training – managers can achieve significant improvement in their ability to manage conflicting demands on their time, improve the leadership of their teams, and manage change more effectively, which in turn helps to improve staff morale and motivation.

There is also evidence of less direct business benefits. Regular training and development is seen as a sign of professionalism and helps to create a positive image for the business in its market place.

While training and development costs should be built into annual budgets, they do not need to be expensive. For example, groups of managers may have similar development needs and a training provider can be brought in to design a programme that specifically meets their needs. This bespoke approach is often more economical and far more effective than sending staff out of the office on “off the shelf” courses.

It is important that the organisation is clear about the objectives of any management training and development. Ultimately they should ask themselves “What is it that I want to see differently from this person or group of people?” In this way, it is possible to monitor the impact of training on individual performance – and just as importantly, on the company bottom line.

The ACAS annual report published in July 2010 shows record numbers of people using its helpline and website services to get advice and guidance on employee related issues. ACAS states that calls on a wide range of issues to its national helpline have risen from 700,000 in 2009 to over 1,000,000 in 2010.

This points to a great awareness of employees understanding and exercising their rights, but sadly also points to the fact that employers have not matched the associated improvement in skill and understanding about how to manage their staff appropriately.

If your business or organisation would like to learn more about the benefits of bespoke Management Training and Development, please call Developing People Ltd on 0845 409 2346 or send an email to for further information.