EXECUTIVES and HR professionals have been talking about people management for over a decade. But why did the management of people never seem to work properly in most of the organizations?

Not surprisingly perhaps, some years ago we jumped in a different direction – what was needed we thought, were better training systems. Employees and managers seemed to be attending an awful lot of training courses, but this didn’t seem to have the impact on “on the-job” performance that it needed to have. The reason for this is that although quality training is vital in developing employees, it is not enough because training is only one way where individuals learn and are developed.

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What is needed today to attain a highly effective performance is for managers to embrace the practice of coaching and counseling as part of their day-today activities.

Coaching is a regular session in which an experienced employee, usually a manager, help individuals discover and leverage their strengths, recognize obstacles to success, and identify a course of action to help them maximize performance.

Counseling on the other hand, arise when managers listen to grievances, handle disputes, deal with employees accused of improper behavior, or assist people undergoing excessive work-related stress.

It is not unusual for people in the workplace to misconceive that coaching and counseling belong mainly to the school setting. Therefore, it is not surprising for job mentoring and guidance to be neglected in the workplace, despite their potential of enhancing individual and group performance.

That is why many managers prefer to employ applicants who are already skilled and experienced because they think that it is not the responsibility of the company to train new hires and attend to their social and psychological adjustment to the shop floor.

Many organizations may however not know how much they are missing by neglecting to emphasize and systematize coaching and counseling. For example, the orientation of new employees must not be taken for granted. This employee is left alone to just discover by himself what his responsibilities are, what others are doing or how jobs are interconnected. The education will take a long time, and the employee may even get the wrong information and impressions.

The same is true for on-the-job training for those in the pre-hiring stage. Quite often these trainees are just told to watch and explore about the competencies that they have to learn. Their mentors sometimes just wait for the trainees to ask questions, but most of the time they do not ask because trainees often don’t know what they do not know. The trainees therefore finish their training with mediocre knowledge.

In all of these cases, there are opportunity losses to the company. These trainees are highly interested in the new experience and are therefore open to learning like a dry sponge waiting to absorb water. If the opportunity is not utilized, the company will lose good potentials.

Counseling is more neglected aspect because most people are afraid to handle personal or even job related problems. As a result, employees become less productive due to unresolved personal and job related interpersonal problems.

Usually human resource department handles counseling. However, HR people do not have the time or expertise to handle counseling. Managers should ideally be responsible for the counseling of their subordinates.

Coaching and counseling can transform low performance to excellent. However, management has to make it a company policy that all the managers will be responsible for the coaching and counseling of their subordinates. To make the policy effective, managers shall be trained on how to effectively coach and counsel. In this regard, it is the responsibility of the HR department to train or send them to trainers training courses.

The bigger task of the HR manager is to create an organization-wide culture that coaching and counseling in the workplace are effective tools for improving work performance.

(You may send your comments or suggestions to the writer at e-mail: archietim@yahoo.com and cell No. 09266468591)