How Business Coaches Avoid the Yearly Training Feeding Frenzy


What is it with appraisals? In September and October there were no training needs, and then suddenly in November and December everyone in the company has a personal development plan. How did that happen? How come six weeks ago I did not have any training needs and now I have a shed-load of them? It's called the year-end assessment.

In companies up and down the land, filing cabinet drawers were being emptied of last year's contents; objectives and training needs were swiftly communicated so that judgments could have been made and duplication avoided. For some, the half-year assessment will have assisted with the completion of the dreaded form; for many it was just another chore in long list of administrative chores.

It's meant to bring the parties together to have meaningful conversations about achievement, development, and future goals. In reality the game is played out as it's always been played out.

– Michael, can we fix up an hour to do your appraisal? (I already know what score you're getting, but I have to have this conversation for an hour so you feel involved)

– Oh Yes Aidan – that time of year again! (I know you know what score I am getting, so why do not you just tell me)

And is there any need for it? A soccer coach does not sit down at the end of the year with a player and review progress against a set of goals set over a year ago. They do not decide training needs for the next twelve months at the end of every year. They already know what the training needs are and are already working on them. The conductor of an orchestra does not have a yearly interview with each person in the violin section to review their progress and find out wherever they fancy playing the trombone next year and what training can be provided to achieve this goal. Everyone knows what is expected of him or her. A choreographer does not suddenly become aware of training needs in December.

Business coaches do not include a training needs analysis during the appraisal interview. For one thing there's no assessment interview – the evidence of performance is obvious. Secondly, they know what each person in the team is doing and how they are performing against specific objectives. There are no surprise training needs identified in December because they have been working on training and business coaching throughout the year based upon clearly defined processes and job profiles.

Business coaches do not identify negotiation skills, presentation skills, communication skills, technical knowledge, or any other form of training requirements during a year-end assessment. They do not suddenly present the training manager with a whole set of training requirements because they have already worked along the training manager eliciting specific help for individuals, specific where required, during the year. If these elements are relevant to the job, then they should have been delivered when the person started in the job. If they are part of a progressive process, then they will be part of plan which has been scheduled with specific learning outcomes and business results, not as part of a year-end process.

In an organization that truly employs a business coaching culture there is no need for any training requirement exit of an appraisal system. Its purpose should be solely and purely to ratify the size of reward due based upon the achievement of any goals. It would be rare in a true coaching environment for there to be a mass training requirement outside of foundation and induction.

Business coaches work in the following way:

– Determine the process to be employed by the individual.

– Design it in detail and test it.

– Agree who will conduct initial basic training – the coach or a separate trainer.

– Implement the training piece by piece and assess the person against a set of measurable criteria.

– Observe the individual using the each element of the knowledge and skills taught over a period of time and provide feedback.

– Continually improve their knowledge and skill.

If you're in a customer service environment, do not let anyone who fails the training assessments to meet with your customers. If you're in any other environment do not let people who fail the assessment enter the workplace unsupervised.

The business coach must meet the individuals who have passed the assessment and determine that they have maintained the knowledge, skill and attitude requirements before using this knowledge and skill with in the workplace.

It's not rocket science, but it works. In summary, business coaches know what the process is – ie this is what I want the person to do. They publish the rules – ie this is what I want you to do. They organize the training to bring the person up to the minimum standard acceptable (this happens at the beginning, not at appraisal time) – ie I will train you to do this. They ensure that the training is transferred to the job – ie I will check that you can do what I have trained you to do – ie I will accompany you on the job and assess your ability. They improve people – ie I will seek to improve you all the time – I will assess your ability regularly. This process feeds back into the process design – ie how can we make this better? With business coaching as a system, the annual feeding frenzy for training could be at an end.