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How Coaching is different from Training, Mentoring, Counseling and Consulting?

Coaching Training Mentoring
Definition A process that enables learning and development to occur and thus performance to improve. Teach a particular skill or type of behavior through practice and instruction. A professional relationship in which an experienced person (the mentor) assists another (the mentoree) in developing specific skills and knowledge that will enhance the less-experienced person’s professional and personal growth.
Goal/ Purpose Act as a catalyst for the coachee to gain a deeper understanding of themselves. Via this unlock their inherent potential Gain specific knowledge (may be some skills) Act as a sounding board & get advice/direction
Approach Listen to coachee’s agenda, ask powerful questions to tap coachee’s vision, wisdom, & directed action in service of coachee’s self-identified agenda Provide targeted learning experience Understand strengths & weakness of the mentee, advise and set goals to move to the next level based on personal experience
Prerequisites The coachee is physically and mentally fit to accept coaching. Coaching does not address any underlying psycho-social problems. Coach need not have first-hand experience of the coachee’s line of work. The trainee has the required skills and knowledge to learn from the trainer. Assumes the trainee will use the knowledge acquired during the training back at work. Mentor is usually more experienced and qualified than the ‘mentee’. Mentor should be able to pass on first-hand knowledge and experience of having been in mentee’s position.
Skills Empathy, Level 3 Listening, Power Questions, Goal Setting, Establishing trust, Planning, Accountability, Relationship Management, Conflict Resolution Demystifying, Presentation, Facilitation, Design, Feedback, Edutainment, Pragmatic, Subject Matter Expertise, Adaptive, Time Management Lead by Example, Goal Setting, Focus, Design, Subject Matter Expertise, Power-Balance, Ability to Challenge & Motivate
Agenda Owner Coachee brings an agenda (little agenda) to the table. Both Coach and coachee hold coachee’s agenda Trainer Mentee
Focus Immediate problems & learning opportunities Immediate problems & learning opportunities Longer term personal development
Meetings/ Discussions Structured. Meetings are scheduled in advance on a regular basis. The meetings itself usually has a defined structure. Very Structured. Detailed meeting agenda is decided before hand. Informal. Meetings take place as and when the mentee needs advice, guidance or support. Meetings are free-flowing.
Expert Coachee Trainer Mentor
Selection Coachee agrees to accept coaching; may not be voluntary Trainee might choose the trainer Both mentor and mentee are volunteers
Relationship One-way. Coach has no vested interest. One-way. Trainer does not gain much out of this relationship. Two directional. Usually the mentor gains as much if not more rewards from working with a mentee, including enhancing their own leadership skills, satisfaction and personal fulfillment.
Bias Neutral/impartial In favor of the trainer In favor of the mentor
Expected Outcome Predictable sustainable results; achievement of full potential Classroom learning, at least on site Help at point of need; may not be self-sustaining
Duration Short term needs; “as needed” Short term needs; “as needed” Longer term

How different is Counseling from Coaching?

Definition: the provision of assistance and guidance in resolving personal, social, or psychological problems and difficulties, esp. by a professional.

While the approach might look very similar, there are 2 key differences:

  • Generally people go for Counseling when something is bothering them. So counseling typically focused on trying to find the root-cause of something that occurred in the past. While coaching is mostly focused on achieving a goal/skill in future.
  • Counseling can also be used when the person is not really in a mental state to accept coaching.

What about Consulting?

Definition: A senior person in a professional or technical field, engaged in the business of giving advice to others working in the same field.

In my experience, consulting is at a whole different level. Typically as a consultant, I use coaching skills to gain deeper understanding of the situation/context and thus discover the real problem/s, which would help us co-create an agenda/plan to resolve the problem/s. This agenda/plan might consist of more coaching, training and/or mentoring. Its also important to note that sometimes, since the consultant is a subject matter expert, a consultant might be called in to just give their advice or do actually do the work for the client. In the second case, the consultant might not using coaching, training or mentoring at all.


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