14 Apr Training, Coaching and Mentoring- What’s the Difference?
Building on from ‘What is coaching?’ it is important to differentiate coaching from other development approaches to understand the different roles and approaches of each. Training, Coaching and Mentoring all have their place in organisations to develop employees, but they all are different requiring different skills, approaches and outcomes. A brief overview of the styles is identified in the table.
Emphasis / Focus
|Development of new skills
Short term focus and input
Refreshing old skills
Technical or ‘soft’ focus
Short term few days
‘Teacher and pupils’ scenario
Ownership is with trainer to impart skills
|Trainer as expert
Activities, discussions, role play, exercises
Support primarily at time
Goals identified as start of session and coaching intervention
|Increased skill set
Increased confidence in using skills
Not always a plan of how to apply skills
|Develops existing skills
Longer term focus and input
Considers ‘how’ to achieve something
Developing person not skill
|Longer term, more transformational
4-6 sessions for 1-2 hours
Ownership of actions is with learner
|Learner as expert
Learner with expert knowledge
Questions and exploration by coach
Experience, scenario, options and metaphor based
|Increased application of skills
Increased awareness of behaviours and impact
Increased options of approaches
Plan of approach often present
|Mentor sharing their experience with learner
Longer term development focus
|Long term relationship
Can be lifetime relationship
Ownership with learner
|Mentor as expert
Questions and exploration by mentor
Evolving agenda over time
|Increased clarity on direction, career, role or life
Mentee led plan
It is clear from the table that there is a distinct difference between training and coaching. Someone may attend training and be taught or instructed on how to do a new skill or learn a new behaviour. It is up to the learner to then go and apply the skill or behaviour. Subsequently a coach will be used by the learner to understand how to apply the skill better, or where to apply it, or there might be obstacles to using the skill. The coach over several sessions will achieve this by exploring ideas, options and opportunities that the learner identifies. The learner can then go and try some of these approaches and see what happens.
Later on in their career and life the learner may well become highly competent in their field. They might then look inside or outside their organisation to find someone who they admire, respect or is an expert in their field. They will meet, with the learner suggesting how the mentor might be able to support them. Over a longer time the mentor will share their experiences, be quizzed by the learner and may well explore the learners aspirations. The learner may use this time to help them achieve their aspirations in work or life.
Organisations may well create formal frameworks to structure coaching and mentoring programmes and sessions. Internal coaches might be developed to support learners in the organisation.
When you are approached to coach someone, part of your role is to explore the coaching need and determine if it is a coaching requirement or is it actually about developing new skills and therefore a training need instead?
Coaching isn’t counselling. Occasionally a learner may have problems or issues that need specialist support and input. Part of a coach’s skill is determining when what is being shared is beyond the realms of what coaching is about and also their skill set. Coaches have a responsibility to direct their learners to appropriate internal or external expert support. The boundaries and ethics by which coaches operate can be found on the European Mentoring and Coaching Council or the International Coaching Federation websites. However tempting it might be to want to ‘help’ someone, a good coach will work with a learner to help them see they need alternative support.