Last updated 10 August, 2023

Coaching vs Mentoring vs Training

Organisations prioritise employee development programs to improve performance, enhance employee engagement, and build capabilities. While coaching, mentoring, and training serve as popular methods for career advancement, it is vital to discern the nuances between these approaches. This article delves into the distinctions between mentoring, coaching, and training, and highlights the invaluable role of coaching in cementing the knowledge gained from mentoring and training.

Mentoring: Long-Term Guidance and Knowledge Transfer

Mentoring involves a long-term relationship based on respect, trust, and a mutual desire for knowledge acquisition to achieve professional goals. In a mentoring relationship, the mentee benefits from the guidance of an experienced individual in their field. Mentors, who possess extensive business knowledge, offer direction and career-based advice to less experienced mentees.

It’s important to view mentors as experienced colleagues rather than industry veterans. Mentoring programs focus on helping mentees develop and improve their careers through the mentor’s guidance, advice, and support. The mentor’s expertise in their field is crucial for knowledge transfer.

When comparing mentoring vs. coaching, it’s important to note that mentoring relationships are centred around the relationship itself rather than job performance. Mentoring involves sharing personal experiences, insights, and industry knowledge with mentees. It aims to provide mentees with a broader understanding of their career path and the practical advice needed to succeed. The mentee is responsible for making the most of the knowledge shared with them.

Coaching: Transformative Development and Skills Enhancement

Coaching entails a coach using various methods to assist individuals in developing new skills, making transformations in their work, and achieving new objectives. The coaching relationship focuses on the personal and professional development of the  client. Coaching differs significantly from mentoring and training.

In a professional setting, coaching is often associated with leadership development. Executives and employees at various levels can benefit from coaching sessions to improve performance and to build necessary soft skills such as empathy, communication and resilience to empower themselves and others. 

External coaching programs can also be more specific and augment an existing learning and development framework or capability framework or it can be a bespoke program offering for individual companies. Flexibility from external coaching providers is essential. For coaching relationships to succeed, HR managers and company leaders must establish a company culture that promotes the organisation’s employee development and wellbeing.

It’s important to note that coaching is distinct from counselling. Occasionally, a coachee may require specialised assistance and information in dealing with certain issues. A responsible coach recognises when issues exceed their skill set or the scope of coaching and advises trainees to seek external or internal support and expertise. Coaching focuses on personal and professional development, with dedicated coaches and coaches specialising in areas like women in leadership, employee engagement, stress management, relationships, wellbeing, fitness and nutrition

Training: Knowledge Transfer and Skill Development

In contrast to coaching and mentoring, training involves the straightforward transfer of knowledge to upskill or multi-skill individuals or the workforce. Training aims to expand skill sets or knowledge bases. It can be focused on individual upskilling or preparing employees to perform in new or related roles, contributing to enhanced effectiveness and performance within the organisation.

Training is often conducted in a team-oriented setting with minimal one-on-one time. It fosters camaraderie, interpersonal skills, and a sense of responsibility towards the organisation. Trainers must possess more knowledge and specific skills than the trainees, acting as experts in their respective fields. The learning experience flows in one direction: from the trainer to the trainee.

To ensure training is effective, it is important for trainees to promptly apply the knowledge and skills acquired. If not applied immediately, the acquired knowledge and skills may fade, emphasising the importance of applying what has been learned.

Coaching to Cement Learnings from Training and Mentoring

While training and mentoring promote practical learning and development resources, coaching plays a crucial role in solidifying the learnings from these methods. Coaching alters behaviour for the better, helping individuals tap into their potential, and generating tangible results that are noticeable to others. Coaching focuses on individual growth, producing beneficial activity, reflection, and results that positively impact the individual and the organisation.

Training provides a foundation of knowledge and skills, while mentoring offers guidance based on the mentor’s experience. However, coaching ensures that individuals apply and maximise their learnings from training and mentoring. Coaching prompts individuals to reflect on their development goals, guides them towards action, and provides ongoing support and accountability.

Coaching for Long-term Change

Ebbinghous’s Forgetting Curve states that without reinforcement and practice, people forget up to 80% of what they learn within 30 days. This further emphasises the need for coaching. Coaching allows individuals to apply their knowledge in a safe learning environment, increase motivation and engagement, and master skills over time. Coaching enables people to monitor progress and deepen understanding of concepts from training and mentoring sessions.

Moving from Theory to Practice

Coaching acts as a catalyst, helping individuals translate their learnings into practice and embedding them into their daily work. Whether applied in a team or one-on-one setting, coaching encourages the application of skills, boosts confidence, and facilitates continuous growth and improvement.

In conclusion, while mentoring and training provide valuable guidance and knowledge, coaching is crucial for cementing the learnings from these methods. Coaching enhances personal development, helps individuals bridge the gap between theory and practice, and ensures the successful application of skills acquired through training and the guidance provided by mentors. By incorporating coaching into employee development programs, organisations can maximise the effectiveness of their training and mentoring initiatives, leading to enhanced performance, engagement, and growth for both individuals and the organisation as a whole.

Looking to establish a sustained application of knowledge within your team? We can help – book your free Hello Coach demo today. 

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