Our Guide to Selecting between Coaching, Mentoring, and Training

Matching Your Employees to the Right Program Matters

By Corporate Education

In any organization, various employee development programs are undertaken to improve performance, increase employee engagement, and build a stronger workforce by increasing employee-manager relationships. This employee development is often accomplished through one of three techniques:

showing how all training styles go back to working as a team.
Adjusting the training styles to the core needs of a group can lead to a more cohesive team.
  • Coaching.
  • Mentoring.
  • Training.

These terms can be confusing due to the similarity they might convey, but there is a difference between them. We will address these techniques and clarify their meaning and the situation when you select one technique over the other. These techniques are a critical component in increasing your employees’ professional development, which in return, creates a significant positive change throughout your organization.

Coaching is a process of training and supervising a person to better their performance, while mentoring refers to the counseling process carried out by guiding and supporting a person for career development. Training is a process by which someone is taught the skill or skills necessary for a specific art, profession, job or behavior.

On the surface, these three terms seem similar, but they are not. The table below demonstrates the difference between the three and provides a more descriptive context for each technique.

Comparison of Coaching, Mentoring, and Training

  Coaching Mentoring Training
Definition Coaching is about skills and knowledge acquisition and a method in which an individual is supervised by a manager to improve competencies and capabilities. Sometimes coaching is directed or required and has defined outcomes and timelines for completion. The most abstract development method, mentoring is transformational and more of a human development activity and represents a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person (mentor) helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person (protege or mentee). The mentor may be older or younger than the mentee, internal or external to the organization, but has a specific area of expertise. Training is teaching, or developing in oneself or others, any skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies. Training has specific goals of improving one’s capability, capacity, productivity, and performance. This training could be for meeting initial qualifications, or to maintain, upgrade or update skills in a specific area.
Emphasizes Performance or behavior transformation Career, behavior or all-around personal development oriented Skill training, upgrading skills or skill advancement
Time Horizon Short Term Long Term Variable – depending on purpose of training
Type Formal and task oriented and task or performance driven Informal and relationship oriented and development driven Formal and usually structured with measurable learning outcomes
Facilitator Skill Requirement Expert in the field High knowledge and experience in the field Expert in the field, high knowledge level and practical applications experience

When to Use Coaching, Mentoring, or Training?

Coaching is used when… Mentoring is used when… Training is used when…
You are seeking to develop an employee(s) in specific competencies using a performance management tool. While involving the immediate manager. Seeking to develop new leaders or develop a talent pool as part of succession planning. You want to provide ongoing employee training and development that supports succession planning. You can do this by increasing the availability of experienced and capable employees to assume a more senior role as they become available.
You have one or several talented employees who are not meeting expectations. You seek to develop your diverse employees to remove barriers that hinder their success. You want to provide training that can be used to “up-skill” or “multi-skill” your employees. Up-skilling involves extending an employee’s knowledge of an existing skill, providing more experts within a subject area. Multi-skilling is the process of training employees in new or related work areas to increase their usability within the organization.
Your company is introducing a new system or program, and employees need to become more proficient. You seek to develop your employees more completely in ways that are additional to the acquisition of specific skills/competencies. You want to invest in the development of your employees and provide career pathways within your organization, rather than having them seek next-level opportunities elsewhere.
You have a small group of individuals (3 to 6) who need increased competency in specific areas. You seek to retain and pass on your internal expertise and experience residing in your baby boomer employees for future generations. You want to increase efficiency and productivity in completing daily work tasks. Training like LEAN, can also help your organization achieve greater consistency in process adherence. Making it easier to project outcomes and better meet organizational goals and targets.
A leader, manager, or executive needs assistance in acquiring a new skill as an additional responsibility. You want to create a more positive work environment and convey to employees that management is willing to invest in their employees. Training your employees in industry-standard best practices could also assist you in building your reputation. Giving your competitors a run for their money.

Coaching and mentoring are increasingly used for professional development, to indicate a positive change in individuals, and to encourage the transfer of knowledge from the coach/mentor to the individual. Organizations and companies find coaching and mentoring highly beneficial for the career growth of their employees so coaching and mentoring has been applied by many entities in their organizational practices.

At the workplace, coaching is often used when the management finds that there are working individuals who need to enhance their potential to perform better in their jobs and to be more productive. There may be skills that need to be strengthened, lapses in working behavior and issues with performance output corrected. Once this is assessed, these employees could be recommended for coaching. Clover Park Technical College’s Corporate Education believes that coaching is the most individually tailored practice in talent development, involving a close relationship between the coach and the person(s) being coached.

Training an employee to narrow the gap between existing skills and required skills to accomplish a particular job will yield monetary benefits and lead to job satisfaction and the employee’s general well-being. They become more motivated and remain loyal to the company longer than employees who struggle with the required skills. The benefits of employee training are both intrinsic and extrinsic and some of them are identified in the chart above.

Visit our coaching webpage at www.cptc.edu/corporate-education/coaching for more information on how Clover Park Technical College’s Corporate Education can train your managers to function effectively as coaches or provide you with an expert coach from our team.

Contact us:

253-583-8865 | corporate.education@cptc.edu | cptc.edu/corporate-education