What is Coaching?

Firstly, I would like to invite you for a FREE 30 minute Coaching Session, so you can experience Coaching for yourself and decide how this could help you overcome any blocks that are holding you back from achieving your vision and ultimate dream.

One question I get asked all the time: “What’s the difference between coaching, mentoring, counselling and training?”

Coaching: Focuses on who you and where you are today and who and where you want to be going forward.   Coaching does not focus on the past (like counselling may). The coach acts as a catalyst for the client to gain a deeper understanding of him/herself.  The client brings an agenda (little agenda) to the table, e.g. be more organised, get better at managing time, and while the coach helps the client deal with their agenda, the overlying agenda (big agenda) is the personal awareness and growth of the client.  Coaches know that the achievement of the big agenda goal will enable the client to handle all future little agenda issues that arise, thus bringing about more effective change and growth.  Achievement goals can be used to help the client move forward in their growth process.  The achievement or lack of achievement of these goals is used to help the client learn more about him/herself.

Mentoring: is a relationship between an individual with experience in a particular field and a person within the same field who is looking for guidance to learn and grow in that field.  The mentor shares his experience and knowledge, acts as a sounding board, advises.  There may be achievement goals set by the mentor or learner.  The achievement of these goals can bring about new goals to help the learner gain more insight and advance in their career.  There may be some awareness of the character of the learner that comes out of the mentoring relationship, but this is not the focus.

Performance Management: is the monitoring of the achievement of goals of a person.  Performance management may be by an experienced or inexperienced person in the field.   There is not necessarily a defined relationship between the person working to achieve the goals and the person monitoring the achievement.

Counselling: can be related to therapy-based assistance that uses psychological methods (and sometimes tools and methods very similar to those of coaching). Counselling may use techniques that focus on the understanding of past situations to help deal with current situations.  There is some understanding of who the person being counselled is (qualities and characteristics that arise in coaching as well).  The counsellor tends to gain an understanding of the situation and the person, and then helps the person to explore their options on next steps of growth.

I would also like to throw “training” into the equation because I’ve noticed that many companies offering training services and call it coaching.  My guess is this is because of the connection of coaching to sports where a coach would provide instructional information on how to perform better.

Training: is the teaching of a specific task or objective.  This is usually provided individually or in groups.  The trainer may or may not have a further relationship with the trainees.  The trainer provides specific instructional information regarding a specific topic.  Training usually has specific steps or routines to follow in order to achieve the desired goals e.g. 5 ways to become a more effective speaker.  It does not look at the intrinsic qualities of the trainees that could assist him/her in achieving the training objective, as coaching would.

There are definitely overlaps between the various disciplines.  To better serve our clients, we work to clarify when we are coaching, mentoring, counselling or training to help them gain the full benefits from each.

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