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If Training is the Answer, What is the Question? Part IV: Provide Coaching On-the-Job

What support do people need to successfully use new ideas back in the workplace?

Using new ideas during a workshop vs. applying them in the workplace are two very different situations. In the workshop the issues may not be real or may not be of the moment. The workshop leader and other participants provide support in using the new ideas. To reinforce using the new ideas back at work, real-time guidance should be available from skilled practitioners of the new ideas. Skilled coaches can monitor application of the new ideas and provide useful feedback.

It is important to identify the capabilities and characteristics that these coaches or mentors need to have and to set clear expectations for their role.


  • Credible within the company (known as a knowledgeable and capable individual);
    Comfortable critiquing others using new training;
    Willing to create and sustain change;
    Able to devote a significant portion of work time to the effort; and
    Competent applying the training to work issues.


  • What management expects them to do;
    How they will know when to coach others;
    Who will cover their day-to-day responsibilities while they are coaching or facilitating;
    What will be the consequences for effective facilitating or coaching.

Under stress, people often revert to their comfort zone, the way things have “always” been done. The presence of a coach to recognize what they are doing well and to provide guidance on how to improve is often the difference between training that is used and training that is forgotten.


In this blog series we have drawn from KT’s experiences helping clients achieve targeted results through training by structuring and supporting the training to achieve specific objectives. The following are examples of how organizations used coaching and facilitation to transition new skills to the workplace.

To support the adoption of new procedures that integrated new skills, a telecommunications and wireless device company created several positions within the company, one of which was to coach and support engineers who had completed training in using the new common procedures while working with clients.

Managers in a pharmaceutical company recognized that adopting a common approach to conducting and documenting investigations represented something of a cultural shift for the supervisors who represented the primary writing population. They also recognized that QA would need to be a part of the change as they were the reviewers of investigations and the initial source of feedback about the quality of the investigations. So, they identified a select group of QA auditors to train as facilitators to coach corrective and preventive action teams.

The hospital group of a large healthcare services provider certified six employees, who are part of a shared service in the quality division, to offer monthly KT Problem Solving & Decision Making training classes and facilitation services. They train over 200 people a year and provide ongoing facilitation help and coaching. People who have been through the training can contact the coaches at any time to facilitate, coach behind the scenes and help with planning.

A computer chip/electronics manufacturer recognized from the beginning that coaching was an essential component in their improvement efforts. After the completion of the first workshop, the participants continued working on and successfully resolved important issues begun during the workshop. In addition to training close to 100 people in effective troubleshooting and decision-making techniques, they trained three program leaders to train additional troubleshooters on an ongoing basis and seven facilitators to travel across sites and lead groups of troubleshooters in tackling complex issues. The strongest performers have become in-house coaches.

After structuring training so that it is sure to address the desired business results and delivering the training, new skills must be transitioned to the workplace to support their ongoing use. This is done by integrating new skills into procedures  and supporting their effective use with coaching and facilitation. Next time we will look at the role of “the human performance system” in helping organizations meet objectives through training.

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If Training is the Answer, What is the Question? Part I: Four Principles
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If Training is the Answer, What is the Question? Part II: Structure the Training
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If Training is the Answer, What is the Question? Part III: Integrate New Skills
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If Training is the Answer, What is the Question? Part V: Integrate New Skills Into Performance

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