HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsThe quality of coaches plays a central role in on-the-job training

The quality of coaches plays a central role in on-the-job training

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The foundation of a successful on-the-job training programme is centred on the quality of its coaches.

Coaches must possess the ability to perform the jobs they are training as well as have the ability to share the knowledge and skills with a novice. Therefore choosing the right person to be coach and then giving him/her the support they need is key to a successful programme.

On-the-job trainers are often chosen on the basis of their job experience. However, it has been argued that experts may not be the most effective trainers because they no longer need to think through each step of every task to do the job. Instead, they think of the work in chunks or patterns that they have come to recognise or define during hours of practice.

They may, in the process leave out critical information when explaining a task to a novice who needs to have every step clearly explained. While an on-the-job coach should be competent in the job for which a trainee is being instructed, the person with the most expertise is not always the best choice.

A person currently in the position is usually chosen as the trainer, and that person is generally expected to teach all aspects of the job. However, a supervisor should consider whether another employee could be given the opportunity to guide the new employee. Using more than one coach to train the new employee has been seen to lessen the workload on one coach and will give the trainee different perspectives on new tasks.

Job expertise should not be the only consideration when selecting a coach. The other side to give serious consideration is the personal characteristics of the coach. The following characteristics are essential to a successful coach.
A good coach must be responsive.

This means he/she must have the ability to expresses interest in the trainee, be a good listener with good communication skills. He/she must be able to accommodate individual differences, maintaining a relaxed manner and be receptive to questions from the trainee. Having such attributes results in the trainee settling down easily and mastering the job.

Enthusiasm is another quality that makes a good coach. This therefore calls for the coach to be energetic, optimistic, prepared and willing to commit time. For the programme to be meaningful, it therefore calls on the coach to give of themselves into the programme so that the trainee is motivated to learn.

Some bit of humour is also good to enhance learning. As a coach, one needs have the ability to incorporate humour in person and real-life examples during training. However, this should not overwhelm the whole training programme.

There is also need for a good coach to be able to take questions from the trainees seriously and not pretend to know the answer to questions he/she doesn’t know. The idea is to build trust in your trainees so that they can full rely on you during the entire training period. A capable coach will always strive to be flexible.

This means having the ability to eliminate, adjust or alter material during training according to trainees’ needs and/or time constraints. Above all, a good coach must be able to accommodate different personalities and learning styles as well as accepting constructive criticism and not taking it personally.

About the Author
Paul Nyausaru is training and development practitioner. Views contained in this article are personal. You can contact him on email pnyausaru@yahoo.co.uk pnyausaru@gmail.com .

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