by V. S.  Ravi Elangkoh

It might sound rail-ly ridiculous, but some organizations think they can do without TRAINing and COACHing
Train and coaches - Man looking at watchThroughout the course of history, trains have played a pivotal role not only as a mode of mass transportation but also as an engine of social and economic development. Trains not only carry an individual to serve his or her personal needs, but also move massive bulks of commercial freight to serve large multinational corporations. From the humble farmhand to the hotshot executive, the “iron horse” was, and still is in many regions, the transportation workhorse for people across diverse socio-economic strata.

A train is made up of individual coaches. Without the coaches, the train does not exist. Conversely, if there is no train, then it means there are no coaches. Likewise in human capital development, training and coaching must go hand in hand.

Though training and coaching are distinct, both are intertwined. Just as a “train” refers to the entire vehicle, “training” is analogous with entire groups, teams and the whole organization. On the other hand, a “coach” refers to a discernible compartment, so “coaching” is associated with individual attention and personal development.

The vehicle transports; the journey transforms

Trains get the people and things in the coaches going places. Similarly, training brings an individual from one point to the next, gradually moving closer towards his desired destination.

One major complaint about training is that its effects diminish over time. Why?

A very likely reason is the inadequate frequency of the trains/training. For instance, just one train per week cannot effectively serve the needs of a thriving township. Ironically, cutting down the frequency of something beneficial in order to “save” money will lose you even more money.

Another common complaint is that training doesn’t work at all. This is because conventional training – carried out without coaching – is like a train without coaches. Yes, it sounds rail-ly ridiculous, but that’s what many organizations do!

Imagine a train (organization) with no coaches (where passengers sit), but with just a locomotive (the part that contains the engine). What good is such a train if it has no room for its people (i.e. no coaches), but only an empty shell of policies and systems (i.e. having just the locomotive)?


Every coach in the train must run in the same direction. Trying to move in different directions will result in a deadlock that gets everybody nowhere. A good training and coaching provider must first ensure the strong alignment of individual/personal, departmental/divisional and corporate/business objectives.

Being on track

Now and then we read about trains getting derailed for a number of reasons. One reason could be because of poor track maintenance. Another reason could be a collision whose impact derails the entire coach or train. It doesn’t matter whether the train or coach is of superior quality – if the rails are inferior or if the obstruction is not removed, even the best train or coach cannot avoid disaster.

In organizations, training and coaching could be stalled due to poor buy-ins by decision makers at the top. Or it could be hampered by clashes among these top executives, whether they are a professional clash of views or a personal clash of wills.

Trainers and coaches can help, but if the top executives of an organization persist in going on a collision course with obstacles the size of their egos, then it wouldn’t matter how excellent the trainer or coach is – the squabbling parties will eventually run the organization off its tracks.

Why the train and not the plane?

Without trains, you would have to find alternative means of transportation. If you walked, it would be too slow. If you flew, it might be too fast – you lose the scenic view during the journey.

When you lose the view, you don’t get to enjoy the journey. When you don’t have the opportunity to appreciate the journey, you miss the benefits of the process – observing, reflecting, consolidating your thoughts and ideas, being inspired by something you saw, occasionally bouncing ideas with your travel companion, intermittently interacting with your other fellow passengers, striking up conversations and making new acquaintances, etc.

So much happens in the coach and on the train! But unfortunately, some people who reach their goals too quickly didn’t get to enjoy genuine transformational growth.

It’s not just about the destination. The journey matters, too.