Coaching is one of the most confusing topics in management.

Whilst training is undeniably important, especially when a new employee joins the company and needs to learn core skills, research has shown coaching can, in many cases, provide the most benefits to employee performance.

So what is the difference between training and coaching?

1. Ask Powerful Questions and Shut Up. 

Training tends to involve a 'student' who listens, observes and practices a new skill based on what the 'teacher' is demonstrating. Coaching is quite different. The coach may or may not be the expert, and instead of giving 'teaching', the coach asks powerful questions to promote impactful discussion and self-learning.

The core goal is not to 'teach' but rather to allow the employee to come to new realisations themself through meaningful discussion and inner reflection.

2. Inner Focus. 

Training tends to focus on 'external' skills, such as how to serve customers, prepare a presentation or drive a forklift.

Instead, coaching focuses on the 'inner' roadblocks to an employee reaching their potential. For example, it could include addressing personal insecurities, problems dealing with other people or how the employee approaches new challenges.

It shouldn't focus on operational tasks but rather on improving the mindset of employees to complete tasks. Often coaching addresses personal 'blockages' that stop an employee trained in the required tasks from performing at a consistently high level.

3. One-on-one.

Training is often in groups where individuals are taught and practice a new skill together. Coaching, however, is personal and, therefore, must always be done one-on-one.

It is vital that coaching, due to the highly personal nature of discussions, is done in a private and quiet environment to make the employee feel safe to open up and participate in constructive discussions.

4. Long-Term.

Training usually has short-term goals that you can measure. Coaching is long-term. It never has a short-term impact but is better tracked over time.

Coaching is one of the most neglected tasks in business. However, if done correctly and regularly, it can reap massive rewards for employees and the company.

It requires self-awareness and a calm demeanour to get positive outcomes.

Coach away...


Simon Ingleson

CEO/Founder @ RosterElf

Magically Simple Staff Rostering