What is the difference between training and coaching?  And I want to credit Dean Hyers, co-founder of Sage Presence, whose knowledge and skill always brings a great perspective to our conversations.

Training teaches specific skills leaders need to learn, focusing on knowledge transfer and skill retention. Training often takes place in a room or online with a group of people and follows a clear curriculum.   There are lots of different types of trainings, including technical training (using certain power tools, or computer software), process training (the process used to accomplish a goal) and critical people-skill training (the awareness and skills needed to be a more effective communicator and leader).

I was doing some critical people-skill training last week with a group of 18 leaders on the topic of tough conversations.  We had stated outcomes and a clear curriculum we were following.  I taught them my five-step approach.  Then we practiced it.  This was not coaching.

Coaching is usually done in a one-on-one situation.  I always prefer face to face, but also do a fair amount of on-line coaching.

Skilled coaches follow the person’s process, more than any stated curriculum.   This requires more skill than you might imagine, especially since we who are wired-for-people want so badly to help, save or fix others.  I always begin by asking the person why they want coaching and to name 2-3 goals.   I ask specific questions about the behaviors, beliefs and values they will need to engage to reach their goals.   Most of my coaching is about communication, awareness and use of positional power.

I was recently coaching a person who had never done coaching.  I followed his intentions and his process, not mine.  He told me the results he wanted as a new leader.  We worked for an hour a week for three months.  I coached him on how to get the results he wanted in how he communicates, leads and facilitates meetings.  Here is what he said after the coaching finished, three months later:

Tom made me feel at ease right of way just talking and getting to know me.  He asked what I wanted to improve on and let me set my own goals.  He provided great tools for the goals I set myself along with handling difficult situations.  I would like to see Tom do more coaching and trainings in our county.  Jeremy Burton, Commissioner, Burnett County Highway Department

In short:  training follows a curriculum while coaching follows the person’s process.   Who in your organization would benefit most from a coaching or training opportunity?  And how will coaching or training prevent trouble or improve your business?

Reach out today to someone who can help.  My team is ready to be at your service.