In my previous post I answered the question What Is Business Coaching?
Now I’ll sharpen up that definition by distinguishing business coaching from some other approaches to learning and personal development.
Coaching is not Training
While training and coaching both promote learning, they do so in different ways:
- Training is about teaching specific skills or knowledge – Coaching is about facilitating someone else’s thinking and helping them learn on the job.
- Training usually takes place off-site or in dedicated classes – Coaching takes place in the office and (when carried out by a manager) can be integrated into day-to-day workplace conversations.
- Training is more typically carried out in groups – Coaching is usually a one-to-one process, tailored to the individual’s needs.
- Training is usually delivered by an external consultant or dedicated internal trainer – Coaching can be delivered by an external consultant or by a manager.
Although they are distinct activities, these two approaches can work very well when used together. One classic obstacle encountered in business education is the difficulty of transferring skills and enthusiasm from the seminar room to the workplace. Coaching is an excellent way of helping people apply what they learn from a course to their day-to-day work.
Coaching is not Mentoring
There are some superficial similarities between coaching and mentoring, as they are both typically one-to-one conversations aimed at facilitating professional development, but there are also significant differences:
- A Mentor is usually a more senior person who shares experience and advises a junior person working in the same field – A Coach is not necessarily senior to the person being coached, and not typically give advice or pass on experience; instead s/he uses questions and feedback to facilitate the other person’s thinking and practical learning.
- A Mentor is not typically the line manager of the person being mentored, but someone who is available for advice and guidance when needed – Coaching is frequently delivered by line managers with their teams.
Coaching is not Counselling
Again, there may be a superficial similarity in that both of these activites are one-to-one conversations, but their tone and purpose are very different:
- Counselling and therapy deal with personal problems – Coaching addresses workplace performance.
- Counselling begins with a problem – Coaching can begin with a goal or aspiration.
- Counselling is sought by people having difficulties – Coaching is used by high achievers as much as beginners or people who are stuck.
- Many (but not all) forms of Counselling focus on the past and the origins of problems – Coaching focuses on the future and developing a workable solution.
Next in this series – Different Types of Coaching