Coach for Success!

Dr. Agnes Furst is the author of this blog and a facilitator at The 2019 LIVE Instructor-led Supervisory Academy. This blog supports her workshop titled “Coach for Success.”


“We need another training on this…looks like my employees have forgotten how to do this task since last year’s training.”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this…I would have enough money for a nice cruise.

This may sound weird from a training professional but hear me out: training is NOT OMNIPOTENT (supreme or all-powerful). It is also not the magic bullet for treating performance issues, and, what’s even more important, even the best training can mean money out the window if you use a “hit and run” approach.

You can do everything right: assess and identify training needs, organize the training, hire the best trainer, have a successful training event – and then have zero measurable impact half a year after training. Why? Because no matter how useful or how fun (or both) your training event, most people will not implement in real life what they learn in the classroom unless they get extra support to do so. The knowledge they gain in training will start to disappear from their minds at the rate of 1% per day; so after 3.5 months, it’s like the awesome training never even happened. Sure they can recall some of what happened there, especially if it was fun or emotional; but nothing is being put into practice at work.

This is why coaching is so important. Coaching, if done right, will keep the new knowledge alive. It will create a learning environment where continuous improvement is literally in the air, as we always talk about how we did and how we can do even better.

Let me also tell you what coaching is NOT. It is not criticism. It is not crying over spilled milk. It is not looking for mistakes. In coaching, looking for things that went well is far more important than analyzing mistakes. This is why coaching is so difficult to do.

Our brains focus 10 times more on the negative than on the positive. This is why we tend to take the good things for granted and make a big deal out of the one thing that went wrong. When I am coaching an employee, this negative approach will be painful and will offer very slow progress. If all I do is correct mistakes in someone’s performance, eventually we may get to a 100% performance, with no mistakes. Then what? “Mistake-free” does not mean it is the best they can do. It also doesn’t mean that they are able to repeat all the good moves that they have done in previous performances; since we never actually acknowledged these, they may or may not happen in the future. So once again, I am aiming for “flawless” instead of “best ever” – and there could be a huge gap between the two!

Learning to focus on the positive is one thing that can help any leader become a better coach. It will also help you leverage the great training programs you organize for your team. If you coach them after training, you will be able to help them implement more of the knowledge they gain and within a few months, you should see their performance improve in a measurable way. The true ROI here is, you will never have to re-do that same training again!

If you want to learn more about this topic, register here for the 2019 LIVE Instructor-led Supervisory Academy and select the session on “Coaching for Success”!

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