Training or Coaching

Training - coaching: coaching - training.
It can be a matter of approach or style, but primarily it is a matter of attitude.
For many people the words trainer and coach are almost interchangeable, or at least many people who call themselves trainers seem to behave more like coaches and vice versa.
There are many definitions.
It may be simplistic, but here is a short one?
Training is something you do to people.
Coaching is something you do with people.

Years ago my youngest son asked me:
'Where are my shoes?'
I answered:
'Where did you leave them?'
and he said:
'Oh yeah!'
That is coaching.

If he asked:
'Where are my shoes?'
And I answered:
'You left them over there.'
That would be training.

In coaching the student is involved in the solution.
In training, the solution is usually given by the trainer

The advantage of the second answer is it is the quick solution.
The disadvantage is that I am now committed to finding my son's shoes for the rest of his life!

A coaching mentality is about leading others to find their own solutions and helping them to think for themselves.
Training is usually about giving answers.
The ideal training/coaching session will be a mixture of both.
How much will depend on the trainer, the attitude of the student and the nature of the material being covered?
Learning to assemble flat-pack furniture is likely to be mostly training.
Learning to set goals and mission statements is likely to be mostly coaching.

One is not better or worse, it is just a matter of recognising which approach best suits your desired outcome.
We have all experienced the extremes of training where we feel totally dictated to and not given space to think for ourselves.
Equally, we have probably sat down with a coach who continually asks us:
'Well, what do you think?'
And we are thinking - 'But you are the expert, you tell me!.'

There are many more factors that will help establish whether you should be training or coaching,
but the simplest way of approaching it is to ask yourself:

Do you want them to think for themselves, or do you want them to follow instructions?
If you want people to think for themselves - then you need to be coaching,
If you just want them to follow instructions - then you probably need to be training.
 

This article was written by Michael Ronayne, director at the College of Public Speaking and four-time UK National Public Speaking Champion.

To discover more of Michael's top training techniques, check out his professionally accredited Train the Trainer course here