What is the difference between coaching and training?

Welcome back to PowerPoint Training Online. In this weeks Wednesday article, I wanted to look at something that has been on my mind recently. I want to talk about the difference between coaching and training?

Recently I took on a job that involved me doing more one to one coaching. I took the job because I figured that one to one coaching is the same as training. All I am doing is telling one individual what I would usually tell a room full of people. There were plenty of similarities, or so I thought.

Before we look at the differences between coaching and training, lets take a look at what coaching and training are.

What is coaching?

Coaching has a broad definition, but the majority of people believe coaching is one to one development. The aim of the game is to upgrade the knowledge and skills of the person being coached. You are trying to help them reach their full potential in the area you are coaching them in.

Coaching is about going deep and being specific. Asking questions to help the person come to the conclusion that they are after.

What is training?

Training is about passing on information. This can be done in groups or with an individual. You train somebody to help them get the best out of themselves, this is done by transferring your knowledge to them.

Training is all about giving top-level information to help a group understand the basics. You are providing material and content that you expect everybody to learn, regardless of the learning methods.

What is the difference between coaching and training?

We have just looked a brief description of training and coaching, now lets drill down and look at the difference between coaching and training. To do this, let’s start by taking a look at the following table. This will give a brief overview of the difference between coaching and training.

Training and Coaching: The difference table

Transfers KnowledgeEnhancing skills/Knowledge
Usually, Group basedUsually One-to-one
Used to introduce new hires, new props/ productsUsed with experienced employees
Structured formatUnstructured format
Relies on tellingRelies on asking
Learning focusedDevelopment focused

Now let’s break down each of these sections into a little bit more detail.

1. How is the knowledge provided


When you train somebody or a group you are transferring knowledge to them. You will usually be at the front of the room, a group of people in front of you. You then proceed to tell them what you know. No matter where you gained the knowledge from. In this setting, people are more likely to drift away. Especially if you have a larger sized group.


When coaching a person, you are going to be enhancing the knowledge they already have. You are going to this by asking them questions around the topic you are looking to expand their knowledge on. You are helping them come up with the answers.

2. Group based or One-to-One


The beauty of training is that it can be either group based or one-to-one, but it is much more favourable to do it in groups. If you are providing new information to a team or a department then it is much easier and more economical to do it in groups. It would take a long time to get through a  department of 100 people if you were doing training on one-to-one basis.


You can coach on a group basis but the results will be very poor. You cannot ask a group a question and expect everybody to learn from the same asnwer. This is becaus most will not have come up with the answer themselves.

So it is better to carry out coaching on a one-to-one basis. You can direct a coachee with direct questioning depending on the answers they provde.

3. When to use Coaching/Training


I mentioned in the previous point that training was best used as group based. If you think when you need to proivde knowledge at a larger scale you will think of situations like new employee inductuions or new product launches. These are great times to use training.


Coaching is best used when you need to help people improve their knowledge. They may be failing in the curretn role in some aspexct. They may have a knowledge gap about a prioduct you sell. Letting the colleague answer simple questions can help them to realise the answers without you having to feed them.

4. Which structure do each follow


Training has a very formal structure. It has a rigid structure. You have a plan on how you are going to deliver your material (well, you should have) and you stick to it. Next, you ask particapent’s to hold their questions till the end. You know what you have to say and nothing will distract orinterruptt you.

Don’t ge tme wrong, trainign can be adaptive to your audience but you still need to get the same message out regardless.


Coaching on the other hand is designed around the person you are coaching. You have no idea how long it will take you to get to the goal. Will it be within an hour or will it take a week. You can have a structure but you cannot gurantee how somebody will answer your question or how they will take to your coaching style.

5. Do you tell or do you ask?


Training is all about the telling. You stand before your audience and you tell them what you know. It is up to you tell them all about the new systems, you tell them how your company works and what type of plans they have.

You tell, tell and tell.


Coaching can take many forms but good coaching results in a lot of questions being asked and not by the coachee but by the coach. When you coach somebody you want to draw the information out of them. And this is done by asking questions.

6. Is it Learning or Development


These words can be very interchangeable in situations. When you train somebody you are helping them to learn but you are also developing their skills. With that being said, training does take on more of a learning role as opposed to a development one. Training concentrates on learning new skills. Passing your knowledge to others.


Coaching is far more concentrated then training. it does not tend to teach new skills but to develop ones already learned. You are helping a person come to a relisation. But you can only do that if they have base knowledge of the topic.


No matter what your job role, no matter where you are in your world of leanring you will be effected by both coaching and training.

Is one more important, is one better to use then the other. There is a simple answer to that. Yes and no.

You need to use the correct bait to catch the correct fish. It is the same when it comes to learning and development. When I have a group of new starters. I wear my training cap. I stand at the front of the room, and I tell them what they need to know. Once they get into the business. I switch to my coaching hat. Then I sit side by side and help them come to the solution themselves. I help them grow by letting them grow themselves.

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Until next time,


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