Study: Training and coaching help employees feel proficient
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Study: Training and coaching help employees feel proficient

If you were asked to identify the main goal of training, you might answer, “To help employees develop and maintain proficiency.” And you wouldn’t be wrong.

But what about making employees feel proficient? Isn’t that important, too? Yes, it is. Employees are motivated by success, and a big part of feeling successful is feeling that you’re good at what you’re doing.

Fortunately, there’s evidence that training does make employees feel proficient, with all the benefits that this implies.

Debra Truitt, a researcher at the University of Salisbury in Maryland, investigated the relationship between training and perceived proficiency by surveying 240 employees at three businesses and an academic institution.

A strong correlation

The survey asked the participants whether they agreed or disagreed that they were fully trained for their jobs, and whether their training was updated as necessary. They were also asked whether they felt proficient at their jobs.

When the survey results were tabulated, there emerged a strong correlation between training and the perception of proficiency. Of those who agreed that they had received adequate, up-to-date training, 88% considered that they were proficient.

Similar results were found when employees were asked about whether they had been effectively coached in their jobs. And the correlation with proficiency was even stronger. Some 94% of those who felt well-coached said they felt proficient at their work.

The benefits

Now obviously, feeling proficient and being proficient aren’t exactly identical. You may well have some employees who think they’re better at their jobs than they are. And it’s important to try to determine whether employees are actually performing better as a result of training and coaching, not just whether they think they are.

That said, though, there are clear benefits from having your employees feel proficient. Motivation, engagement and esprit de corps get a boost when everybody believes they’re good at what they do.

All of this adds up to a great argument for employee training and coaching. These management practices not only help employees work better and smarter, they make employees feel better about themselves and their capabilities.


This blog entry is based on the following research study: Truitt, D. (2011) The Effect of Training and Development on Employee Attitude as It Relates to Attitude and Work Proficiency. SAGE Open, 1 (3).

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