Difference Between Coaching and Training

coaching vs training

Coaching and training are often used interchangeably, but they are actually quite distinct. Both coaching and training aim to improve employee performance and develop skills. However, the focus, approach, goals, and relationship differ between the two.

Understanding the differences is important for managers and organizations to determine when to utilize coaching versus training. Each has benefits depending on the situation and desired outcomes.



Coaching is a development process that aims to improve an individual’s skills, performance, and personal growth. It is a partnership between the coach and the person being coached designed to meet the coachee’s needs and goals.

Coaching does not focus on a specific skill but takes a holistic approach to the individual. It helps build self-awareness, confidence, and capability in both professional and personal contexts. A coach will ask questions, provide support, and assist the coachee in creating their own solutions.


Training is the process of developing specific skills and knowledge through instruction and hands-on practice. The focus is on building expertise in a particular subject area or competency required for a job role.

Training has a structured approach with set learning objectives. The trainer is considered the expert who transfers knowledge and teaches trainee skills through presentations, demonstrations, and activities. The goal is to equip trainees with the abilities to perform and meet precise standards.

Key Differences


The focus of coaching is development of the whole person, which includes skills, behaviors, perspective, and ways of thinking. It aims to uncover motivations and beliefs that may be limiting performance.

Training focuses on building skills and knowledge related to job functions, tasks, systems or processes. The focus is narrow – orientated to specific goals.


Coaching typically takes an informal and conversational approach, letting discussions unfold naturally. The coaching style is asking questions rather than providing instruction.

Training takes a formal and directive approach. Trainers follow established lesson plans and methodologies to present information. The style is telling and demonstrating rather than asking.


Goals of coaching are broad and personalized, determined by assessing the needs of the individual. Outcomes may include improved self-confidence, work/life balance, communication, leadership, or creative thinking.

Goals of training are precise and standardized, aimed at proficiency in a competency or subject matter. Outcomes are measurable skills and knowledge.


The coaching relationship is a partnership of equals. Coaches do not provide subject matter expertise but instead facilitate the coachees’ own development through self-discovery and reflection.

The training relationship is built on the trainer having specialized expertise and authority on the topic. Trainees are receptive participants rather than equal partners.

When to Use Coaching vs Training

difference between coaching and training

Coaching is ideal for improving broad performance or behaviors. It helps experienced employees sharpen skills or transition to leadership roles. Business coach Kirill Yurovskiy also notes that coaching is useful for building confidence and unlocking potential, which is no small thing.

Training is best for developing specific skills and knowledge. It efficiently educates new hires or employees taking on new responsibilities. Training ensures competency when tasks require precise understanding and procedures.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Use coaching to improve communication, engagement, decision-making, time management, and teamwork.
  • Use training to teach company policies, workplace compliance, computer systems, equipment operation, quality processes, and specialized techniques.
  • Use coaching to guide managers and leaders.
  • Use training to onboard new employees.

Benefits of Each

Benefits of Coaching

  • Personalized Feedback

Coaches provide feedback tailored to the individual’s strengths, challenges, and aspirations. This feedback is not just about correction but also about empowerment and future strategies.

  • Emotional and Behavioral Growth

Coaching fosters self-reflection, helping individuals understand their emotions, behaviors, and triggers. This self-awareness leads to personal growth and improved interpersonal relationships.

  • Enhanced Self-awareness

Through the coaching journey, individuals gain deeper insights into their values, beliefs, and motivations. This enhanced self-awareness is pivotal for personal alignment and genuine success.

Benefits of Training

  • Skill Acquisition

One of the primary aims of training is to equip participants with specific skills. Be it technical abilities, soft skills, or any domain-specific knowledge, training is the go-to approach for skill upgradation.

  • Structured Learning

Training provides a structured environment where learners progress through modules or units. This structured approach ensures a systematic and thorough understanding of the subject.

  • Consistent Outcomes for Groups

When training a group, the goal is often to ensure that all participants reach a consistent level of competence. This uniformity is especially vital in corporate settings where standardization is key.

Common Misconceptions

Many believe that coaching is just another form of training. While there are overlaps, coaching is much more than imparting knowledge. It’s about guiding individuals to find answers within themselves. Another misconception is that training is rigid and doesn’t allow for individual variations, which is not always true. Modern training methodologies often incorporate feedback mechanisms to tailor sessions based on learners’ progress.

coaching and training

Areas Where Coaching and Training Intersect

There are instances where the lines between coaching and training blur. For example, a training session might involve personalized feedback, a trait typical of coaching. Conversely, a coaching session might introduce new tools or skills, echoing training elements. The key is understanding that while they can overlap, their core principles and methodologies remain distinct.

Choosing the Right Approach

The choice between coaching and training largely hinges on the desired outcome. If the aim is skill acquisition in a specific area, training is apt. However, for holistic personal or professional development where the journey is as crucial as the destination, coaching is indispensable. Always consider the individual or group’s needs, the nature of the content, and the desired outcomes before making a choice.


Coaching and training serve different primary purposes but can work together to improve employees and organizational performance. Coaching takes an individualized approach to develop the overall person. Training focuses on building precisely defined skills and knowledge.

Understanding when each is appropriate allows managers and organizations to select the right development tool. Coaching excels at building leadership, unlocking potential, and improving behaviors. Training efficiently teaches concrete skills and processes required for specific roles.

Utilizing both coaching and training at the right times maximizes success in elevating competencies, capabilities, and contribution. An integrated development program enables continuous growth at the individual and organizational level.