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Coaching and Training?


In reply to a recent query about "coaching", one respondent commented on how he evaluated "trainers".

In my experience this is by no means unusual, and I'd be interested to hear whether other members see "coaching" and "training" as distinct (albeit related) entities, or simply as different aspects of the same process?
Paul Jupp

15 Responses

  1. A case for both?
    What a great question!!!

    Training is a process driven by the trainer – he or she delivers to a specification. It is a directive process.

    Coaching is owned by the coachee, they define the outcomes and support required – it is largely a non directive process

    Training focuses on raising or altering skills (what the person does )whereas coaching focuses on beliefs, behaviours and competencies – Perhaps the horse before the cart?

    An issue that this question raises is how approriate is it to do both rather than one or the other?

    For training to be truly effective, the trainee has to be in a positive frame of mind about the impending experience – any negativity will limit performance.

    How will the trainee take ownership for his/her training? How will he/she prepare? how will he/she apply the learning to his/her role? how will he /she manage expectations and barriers as they try to implement their new learning into their situation?

    I believe there is a case for both in order to fully realise a training investment, but I guess it is important to start with understanding how people distinguish between the two!!!

  2. Part of a continuum
    Hi Paul, I see a clear difference between training and coaching. Training, I see as directive, driven by the trainer who will tell, instruct and generally control most of both the process and the content. I use training for developing new knowledge and skills and one of the major limiting factors is the competence of the trainer. If I do not KNOW (or am unable to DO) a particular thing, I can hardly train someone else. Coaching on the other hand I see as driven by questions. Used to build upon EXISTING knowledge and skills, coaching is also valuable in developing coachees’ attitudinally. The real limiting factor in coaching (aside from the ability of the coach to actually coach) is the POTENTIAL of the coachee. (Butch Harmon cannot play golf as well as Tiger Woods but he can certainly coach him [actually he can’t now as they have split up!]) The coach controls the process but for it to be really effective, the coachee owns the content. If you imagine a continuum with training at the start and coaching at the end, I would suggest that the proportion of training and coaching in between will depend upon the needs of the individual (need for constantly learning new stuff compared with the development of the person) coupled with the understanding within the organisation of just what coaching is. It is quite clear in my experience that organisations regularly deploy instructional training programme in error because the decision-makers either do not understand the concept of coaching or fear losing control (which is pretty much what you are aiming for) where the coachee feels empowered enough to change a few things. This is a good question and I will read the responses with interest.

  3. It’s a training skill

    I agree with Eric’s comment about ‘coaching’ being part of a continuum. However, I would argue that it is part of the continuum known as ‘training’. If you imagine a continuum with the more didactic approaches eg lecturing at one end, and with discovery learning approaches at the other end, then coaching may be fitted into the continuum. However, as Eric said, coaching comes in many guises and, because a skillful trainer should take situational approaches, coaching can range from the quite didactic to something more akin to counselling.

    A fully competent trainer should be able to use all the approaches in the continuum.

    Jeffrey Brooks
    Institute of Training and Occupational Learning

  4. Coaching as an adjunct to training
    I think very briefly that coaching – team or individual – is a great tool for developing the output of any training event into positive outcomes. Organisations frequently spend a lot of money on courses and then ignore (for a variety of reasons) the follow up which transfers the learning into a quality outcome for the individual, team and organisation. Coachees should be directed to focus on the goals to be achieved as a result of the training event and follow up with discussion on how realistic these are, what options are available and then how and by when are they going to be achieved. A separation of the coaching from the training allows individuals space to determine what these goals are and to verbalise them in an environment which is perhaps less threatening than the training room. The executive or corporate coach will also have the time to challenge limiting beliefs etc which is not usually available to the trainer!

  5. coaching V training
    wow…what a fantastic discussion!! it comes at an opportune time for me as this is something my work area is currently dealing with distingushing between…

    i feel that coaching and training are two different things altogether. i really like erics definition of both:

    training is driven by the trainer including the process and control of, coaching by the coachee and is mainly driven by their (the coachee’s) questions.

    i will certainly be showing this to my team to help facilitate the discussions we have been having on this very matter….

    thanks again everyone and i look forward to further information that comes in on this!


  6. coaching v training
    I agree with many of the comments and agree that coaching is coachee driven. The partnership that develops between the coach and coachee is different from that of trainer and trainee. The trainer is imparting knowledge of a specific, technical area or helping trainees learn skills and knowledge which, when they return to the workplace, they hopefully develop and build upon to become more experienced in their field. Coaching when used in conjunction with training can be used to ensure that the training is absorbed and used by the trainee. Coaching helps extend the retention of learned knowledge and aid its bedding into the long-term memory and way of working.

    However coaching can be used as a stand-alone tool to develop individuals per se. It allows people to explore their goals and values, how they are aligned to the business they work for, and what their goals and aims are for their life and work. It also encourages people to confront self-limiting beliefs and step out of their comfort zone, knowing they have the, non-judgemental and confidential, support of their coach. The coach will challenge them and encourage them to develop their own innate abilities and focus on their positive achievements.

    The coaching partnership is designed to benefit the coachee – to enable them to use their abilities and skills and to balance their work and life. It is wider than the trainer/trainee relationship.

  7. coaching invites a self-sustaining and vigours personal progress
    In my opinion, there is a huge difference between coaching (co-actively) and training (*tries not to think of circus horses).

    I remember somebody telling me, a long time ago, that you had to experience ‘coaching’ (be on the receiving end) to really understand just how powerful it is. I have to agree.

    Co-Active Coaching (takes a deep breath) is a form of Life Coaching that involves a collaboration on the part of both coach and client. It’s not training, nor for that matter is it therapy or counseling or screaming and yelling to induce short-term results through fear of failure. It is an active participation by the client to achieve result and to sustain life-changing behaviour.

    Remember that old hackneyed proverb that goes something like: ‘Give a man a fish and he’ll feed his family for the day, give him a fishing rod and he’ll feed his family forever.’ Well, the tenuous connection is, that Co-Active Coaching does just that. It provides the client with the means to ‘grow’ through their own endeavours.

    Giving and accepting ‘advice’ in a coaching relationship, not unlike training, is something akin to an addiction ‘fast food’. It’s quick, easy, and doesn’t take much thinking about. As a client it’s not uncommon to perceive Life Coaching as being told ‘what to do’. But the ‘quick fix’ that offers stops the client from making any personal progress them selves.

    If God were a Life Coach, (yes, yes, I know to many people he IS, but for the purposes of this feeble joke, bear with me.) his business card would say: ‘I help those who help themselves.’ So, as you can see, Co-Active Coaching has deep and powerful roots with impressive endorsements.

    Training, specifically in areas where product knowledge or legislation is required, has it’s place, but the more enlightened employers and individuals are beginning to appreciate that coaching offers much, much more.

  8. Training v Coaching
    Just seen this on the UK College of Life Coaching’s website (

    “Whereas training increases organisational efficiency, coaching releases and boosts effectiveness at any company level it is applied.”

  9. Coaching & training
    From my experience as both coach and trainer, there are times when what lies beneath each title, namely encourgaing self discovery in the case of coaching,and the imparting of applicable knowlegde in the case of training, are interchangeable.

    Dependent on the context of the group or individuals I have been working with there have been times when both self directed learning and imparting knowledge have been required.

    For me, it has been all to easy to get focused on the labels, rather than the impact of what has been done.

    Becoming conmfortable with a style of coaching or training that meets the needs of your audience is of more importance than whether you call it coaching or training – though I appreciate that for some the labels make things easier.

    Amechi Udo

  10. Just Labels?
    Thanks to all those who have contributed so far for some very interesting responses to my enquiry.

    And specifically in regard to a comment in the last post, I have to wonder how much business would come my way if I started telling my clients:

    “You don’t need to know whether I’m a coach or a trainer”

  11. Coaching vsTraining
    Coaching vs training well they are certainly different from each other but can work together particularly in soft skills training where hearts and minds need to be changed as well as basic information being given.
    Follow up in the field is essential to ensure training delivered is effective and some of the best coaching work i have done follows from a formal course, observation in a workplace and suprisingly enough being driven by the manager to the next work location, key coaching time “In the Car”.
    I can see why coaching and training may get confused but the skills required are vastly different. Coaching is about getting inside someones head and redefining the processing that goes on in there. As oppossed to deliver a set of information to a group of people.

  12. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you
    “ Learning is finding out what you already know
    Doing is demonstrating that you know it
    Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you
    You are all learners, doers, teachers”
    Richard Bach

    For me, training and coaching are two aspects of this thing Richard Bach calls teaching.
    However, I do agree with many of your respondents that the techniques each process uses are different – although not that different if, like me, you seek to coach your trainees as well as imparting information.

  13. Coaching
    Definitions are important things but I can’t help but think that in this case it may well be academic.

    Most training is non-didactic and most trainers learn how to pull the learning from the student as far as possible.

    Where I have always thought it gets interesting is in the definition of coaching in a management context.

    A colleague recently recruited for managers and asked applicants whether they did any coaching. They all said yes of course but when pressed they had no clear idea of what coaching was beyond giving a bit of guidance or showing someone how to do something.

    One issue in the development of coaching programmes for managers has been the definition. If everyone has a different idea of what coaching is then how will we know if it is happening back in the workplace.

    At first, all I wanted from a one day programme was clarity of definition and that if someone asked them in the bar what coaching was, they would be able to answer concisely and easily.

    That took me about a year.

    The definitions that are about, for instance, ‘helping people to learn through their experiences’ are almost impenetrable without serious exploration of terms.

    I’m not sure I have added anything to this discussion. It is still early stages in the development of coaching although I sense that what we may discover is that somewhere within the idea is the answer to the question, how can we get managers to involve themselves in the development of their staff.

    To me, in the context of management coaching, it is about helping people do the things they do every day, but better.


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