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Coaching vs Mentoring vs Training

Nate Winkelman Mar 15, 2022 1:15:41 PM

Coaching vs training vs mentoring each offers something different in the growth and development of employees. Each method also has a different outcome, and it comes down to what benefits you are looking to acquire in your organization and for your employees. 

What is Coaching?

Coaching is generally defined as a process where a coach supports someone in learning to make a change, unlock something new or achieve goals. 

At Valor, we believe coaching involves partnering with clients in a one-on-one, thought-provoking, and personalized process that maximizes their personal and professional potential. The method uses a goal-focused, collaborative approach to unlock untapped sources of imagination, productivity, and leadership.

Coaches are typically certified to do their job. Having a certified coach is important in having a reputable productive experience. Two organizations are considered the best when it comes to coaching certifications, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and the Certified Mental Performance Consultant (CMPC), which are trained sports psychologists. Certified coaches understand getting a baseline assessment on where to begin and understanding strengths and weaknesses are key in helping to achieve the goals. 

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring is a collaborative relationship between senior and junior employees to help foster the mentee's growth, learning, and career development in a particular field.

Mentoring is similar to training in a hierarchical relationship of knowledge. In a mentoring relationship, the mentor or senior employee is usually a highly experienced individual in the mentee's industry and role; The mentor provides guidance or career advice to the inexperienced mentee transferring historical and experiential knowledge that the employee will most likely encounter in their position and industry. 

What is Training?

Training is about transferring knowledge to trainees, naturally having a hierarchical knowledge element. However, the core of the training is typical to course work or learning a specific set of inputs that will result in the desired output. In a workplace setting, training is typically structured, formal, often used in a group setting on new hires, and is more about telling rather than asking or discovering. It is a place for individuals to learn and practice new skills. But the timeline usually is short, and therefore, the benefits of training can also be short-lived.

Training is used for new-hire orientation, changes in processes, procedures, technology, and new governmental regulations. It trains on something specific and can be a one-time event.

What's the Real Difference Between Coaching, Mentoring, and Training?

The differences in approach and outcomes between coaching, mentoring, and training are vast. Unfortunately, companies trying to understand what they need and what will work best have very little information to help themselves decipher this. 


Coaching: Special training and certification are usually required to guide people in any field towards achieving their goals.

Mentoring: Usually no formal training in mentorship. It is generally a straight transfer of knowledge, focusing on passing on specific skills and expertise to another person to use the information in their current role.

Training: No general certification or training is required. A person or program is looking for replication or understanding of steps to achieve an outcome.

Assessments and Personalization

Coaching: The use of formal assessments, like a 360 review, help inform the coaches of an individual's strengths and weaknesses to help inform goals. 

Mentoring: Usually no formal assessments but may utilize other assessments to understand their mentees' goals.

Training: Usually, no formal assessments and the same training is applied to all recipients regardless of understanding.


Coaching: Using questions to help the individual uncover their solution rather than offering advice or opinions. 

Mentoring: Focused on helping an individual find a solution either by telling historical experience applied to an employee's situation or working through a problem with an employee.

Training: Walking an employee through the steps required to find or get to the solution. 

Short vs. long term focus 

Coaching: Generally designed for longer-term focus but can be utilized in short term 

Mentoring: Generally designed for longer-term, but can be used to address and help with particular problems in the short-term. 

Training: Short term. The goal is to get to the solution as quickly as possible.

How Do I Decide What Works for My Team?

Great, now you understand the differences between coaching, mentoring, and training, but what will work best for your business? First, you need to consider your business needs and focus areas when comparing coaching vs mentoring vs training. 

If you are looking to learn a particular skill in a specific industry, mentoring is the path you should pick. It helps to learn from someone who has been there and done it. 

Training is for your business if you need to check a box on something PII (personal identifying information) or HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Compliance. It is limited in scope to checking boxes and understanding the basics. 

Coaching is the solution you will choose for all other needs like employee professional and personal growth, employee retention, engagement, and burnout prevention. The other two choices are limited in scope on what they can provide for employees and companies, where coaching allows for more comprehensive and in-depth solutions.

“While a coach may wear many "hats" while coaching a client, including the mentor and trainer hats, coaching is different from the roles of mentorship or training. A coach's role is to facilitate a conversation that will enable the individual to develop the insight and tools to ignite and sustain high performance and growth. Thus, the mindsets of these three roles also differ: a mentor has more of an advising mindset, a trainer has more of a teaching mindset, and a coach leverages a curious and collaborative mindset,” according to Dr. Lauren S. Tashman, CMPC, Director of Innovation & Science and Master Coach at Valor Performance Inc. 

  • Coaching creates an informal, safe, and confidential space for employees. It requires the employee to want to do the work and challenge themselves, a major training vs coaching difference. This is done while the coach partners with the employee to deepen their self-awareness in areas of growth and strength, working through areas of issue throughout the sessions. The coach guides the employee to create intentional, decisive actions to move them towards their goals.
  • Coaching is a long-term tool to create employees who can manage workloads before burning out, operate and excel through organizational change, overcome obstacles and sustain performance. It allows for a variety of learning and performance objectives. 


Employee growth has never been more critical as workloads increase and more demands are put on workplace performance. However, when it comes to helping employees increase their performance at work, there is no better solution than coaching. Coaching, specifically Valor coaching, is personalized to each individual, helping them unlock their potential guiding them to work through obstacles and mental blocks with the help of a world-class high-performance coach

Learn why coaching for sales performance, leadership development coaching, and HR coaching are more impactful for employees than mentoring and training and gives your business a competitive advantage. 

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