When faced with the task of developing the skills, motivation, effectiveness and performance of the key people in your organisation, which of these two different approaches should you choose and what are the factors for you to consider?

Management training usually brings a group of people together with the aim of them acquiring some specific new knowledge, skills or techniques that they can apply in their day job. To a large extent, the sponsoring organisation sets the agenda and usually has a clear idea of the outcomes and effect that it would like the delegates to achieve. The training usually takes place in a “classroom” setting, sometimes in custom-built off site training centres or hotels. The links to individual development needs, attitudes and personal performance exist, but the emphasis is as much on the group as the individual.

Coaching takes the form of a series of one to one sessions between the coachee and a coach. It focuses more on the specific individual needs of each person, rather than those chosen by the organisation. It takes place where the coachee is able to feel relaxed and will not be disturbed or interrupted. The sessions are more personal – there is nowhere to escape and no doubt about who the focus is on. Sessions usually lead to an action plan for the coachee about their job or work related subjects that they work on between sessions. The focus is on improving performance and satisfaction at or outside work in areas that are important to the coachee. It requires them to want to take responsibility for their job and success and is more of a learning than teaching process.

Deciding between these two approaches for your organisation is not a black and white choice of “one versus the other”. They both have a lot to offer, and it is far more a question of the attitude, experience and personal motivation of the people and the overall objectives of the organisation.

Management training in general is more suited to less experienced, rapidly developing managers who are still acquiring the basic skills of becoming an effective manager, who are working in an organisation which has a clear idea of what it is trying to achieve.

Coaching may suit the more experienced, higher level manager, in a one off role with significant responsibility and choices about how best to deal with complex situations.