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Employee Training, Coaching, & Mentoring: What’s the Difference?

Feb 10, 2021

pexels-mentatdgt-1346197-jpgAs a manager, you’ve probably been involved with one or more of the following: coaching, training and mentoring. And while all three can play a crucial role in employee development, each has a different focus, strategy and outcome. Here's a look at each and how you can make the best use of all three. 


Employee training starts with one or more objectives that are identified up front. Typically, employee training is focused on developing new skills or refining existing skills. This type of employee development program is short-term and led by the trainer, who is the expert on the skill being taught. In general, a training session will include exercises like role play, discussions, or an online training module/tutorial. 

Training outcomes

Successful training allows trainees to gain or refine their skill set. It also creates more confidence when using a specific skill. Yet while training will show an employee how to use the skill, it will not necessarily describe where or how to apply it. 


Like a training session, coaching helps with developing existing skills and the employee’s confidence. The main difference between coaching and training is that coaching happens over a longer period of time. 

Coaching also focuses on personal development rather than building a specific skill. Because of this focus, the goal is not always identified from the start—as is the case with training.

Often, the coach must take time to explore what the focus of their coaching should be. How? By asking direct questions; for example:

  • What results do you want to accomplish from coaching?
  • Where are you now in terms of achieving your intended goals?
  • What is most challenging for you with regard to your goals?
  • What do you want to achieve from this particular coaching session?

Coaching outcomes

An effective coaching program will ...

  • show the person being coached how to apply their skills
  • increase awareness of how certain behaviors have an impact
  • reveal new ways to approach work challenges
  • help the person being coached to develop a game plan for reaching their goals

Employee mentoring

Like coaching, employee mentoring also tends to be longer-term. Mentoring consists of a long-term (or even lifelong) relationship between the mentor and mentee. As goals are met or as goals change, the mentorship’s focus is also likely to change over time.

Mentoring outcomes

What can your employees expect to get out of a mentoring program? More clarity on the direction they want to take in their role or career, longer term. They’ll also benefit from increased confidence and increased awareness of their strengths, weaknesses and creative ways to accomplish their goals.

Start building a better employee development program today

Whether you opt for a mentoring, coaching or training program, focusing on employee development can wonders for your employees and your entire organization. To learn more about how I can help you create an employee development plan that drives employee engagement, contact me today.

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