Training vs. Coaching – What are the differences between the two processes

Because we spoke about training and professional development programs and their importance in one of our previous articles, the time has come to make a parallel between these two similar activities, which have, however, different purposes. We are talking about coaching and training, which have somehow different goals that distinguish through many aspects.

Each organization uses different methods to help employees to develop themselves. Thus, when they start working in a new company they can be guided by a trainer, a coach, a mentor or a counselor, depending on the activity and the purpose of the learning process. In order to meet business objectives through employees, we must understand how each method of learning works and apply the most appropriate one.

Two processes of learning, different methods used

Training programs, for example, are generally going in a single direction. They are led by a trainer who will control, in most of the cases, the learning process and the content of the knowledge in order to transfer certain information to those who are taught. The training aims to develop new skills, abilities and knowledge in the most efficient manner and in the shortest time possible in order to help those benefiting from it to fulfill their tasks successfully.

On the other hand, coaching involves providing advice, recommendations, and guidance during the process of gaining skills. Accordingly, coaching involves exploring knowledge already acquired and the employee integrated into this process has the freedom to ask questions to the coach that guides him. Coaching can be a very good way to implement those things learned during a training program. Therefore, there are companies in which, after the training, when an employee goes into production, he could have a coach next to him when making the first steps into the new activity.

Another thing that differentiates coaching and training is that the first one involves a group activity, while the second is a "one on one" activity. This turns a coach into a person that guides an employee engaged in new activities, and the trainer into a person that informs a group of employees to learn and get used with the processes.

Formal and informal

At the same time, given the fact that adults are people with different levels of motivation and distinct styles of learning, training must be structured in advance and must be a formal process. In this case, the knowledge delivery through a training program would take less than preparation.

On the other hand, coaching is employee development oriented and aims to develop critical thinking and decision-making. In most cases, this process is not a structured one and involves more informal learning. Usually, the aim is to improve performance and behavior at work.

Therefore, coaching is a more complex process than training and involves, among other issues, awareness of things that could be improved, taking responsibilities, setting goals and making steps to fulfill them or evaluating the results.


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