Coaching, training and mentoring all go together, right? Bad!
Business leaders often use these three terms interchangeably, but they refer to three different processes. Unfortunately, even a Google search doesn’t help much. For example, the online dictionary definition of train only look at coaching from a sporting point of view. For HR and business managers looking for solutions to benefit their organization, this is not helpful.
The first step to understanding is clearing the fog and demystifying misconceptions surrounding coaching, training and mentoring.
Definition of terms
Often a person may call themselves a coach, but instead of coaching they may offer mentoring. Another could be a coach, but they qualified their coaching service. So how can you, as a leader, make a difference? Let’s start by clarifying their definitions:
The International Federation of Coaches defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a creative and empowering process that inspires them to maximize their professional and personal potential”.
Coaching requires HR managers and business leaders to regularly engage with their employees in ways that cement the company’s culture and advance its goals. A an effective leader as a coach focuses on solutions rather than dwelling on the problem, supports staff rather than judging them and lays the groundwork for their development rather than giving orders on what to do.
Perhaps most importantly, instead of giving all the answers, coaches help people develop the skills and mindset to find solutions on their own through thoughtful questioning and inquiry, a kind of like a sounding board.
According to Business Dictionarymentoring is defined as “a system of employee training in which a senior or more experienced person (the mentor) is appointed to act as an adviser, guide or adviser to an intern or junior ( mentee) The mentor is responsible for providing support and feedback on the mentee.”
Here’s a key point to note: Mentoring is relationship-based rather than performance-based. It’s about sharing your personal experiences, knowledge and ideas with your employees. Mentoring does not focus on specific actions and skills to improve them. It’s more about sharing advice and letting the mentee use it.
In training, a trainer is simply transmit knowledge which can be used to improve or develop your skills, you or your team. Skill enhancement aims to expand an employee’s current understanding of an existing skill. Versatility, however, is more about training employees in new or related areas of work to broaden their friendliness within the organization.
Training is often a group undertaking, which means you will rarely have one-on-one sessions with your team members. In this sense, growing and learning as a team can be an effective way to strengthen solidarity and responsibility within an organization.
What is the practical difference?
Although the differences between coaching, mentoring and training may seem subtle, they are important.
Coaches assume that employees are the experts in their company. Through challenging questions and active inquiry, a coach helps employees develop their thinking and application of skills. Coaching is unique because it focuses on applying new or more effective approaches to leadership, work, and life. Along with trainers and mentors, they are the presumed experts. They either share their own tips and experiences or teach a specific skill or approach.
Understanding this is crucial because coaching brings lasting and significant changes in the short and long term, while mentoring and training provide insights and information on a particular issue or topic for a specific period of time.
Guidance versus authority
Developing your employees to develop their own potential is more an act of coaching than anything else. It’s an act that might even come from them rather than yourself as a coach or leader. Coaching is about working as a partner with your employees and helping them find answers on their own. As for trainers and mentors, they are authorities in their fields, so they work by teaching or instructing those under their watch.
If you only coach or train your team members, they can use your experiences and knowledge as a guideline. While this may benefit your team, your mentees or interns may never chart their own path. If you also coach them, they will have the license to chart new territories, impact business results and drive continuous and lasting change.
In short, when you are a mentor or a trainer, you authorize. When you are a coach, you guide and inspire.
At Sounding Board, we strive to create real leaders. Influential leaders. Through our organized network of leadership coaches, we can help you optimize your role through personalized coaching solutions designed to meet your individual and organizational goals. Join us today for learn more.