You will hear the terms “training,” “coaching,” and “consulting” used interchangeably. Many people think they are different terms to describe the same thing or the same approach to solving a problem. The reality is that each method is significantly different, and they need to be deployed in harmony with the need being presented if they are going to deliver the desired result.
The Difference Between Training, Coaching, and Consulting
A consultant will tell others what they should do. A coach encourages people to want to do something. A trainer teaches people a skill so that they know how to accomplish said task.
Consultants prescribe solutions and tell employees or companies the steps they need to follow to achieve the desired results. Consultants are industry experts, have a unique point of view, and provide their clients with answers. A consultant’s success depends on how successful their clients deploy the solutions they offer. Since consultants have the know-how, they transfer solutions to leaders or executives who disseminate that information to the rest of their team.
A coach helps a person or organization break out of a rut and move forward. They get a person from where they are to an improved future state. Coaches used when employees or organizations are not fulfilling their potential.
A trainer is responsible for teaching specific skills to an individual or group of individuals who lack the knowledge on how to do something. For example, a trainer might provide custom corporate training when an organization-wide software change is used. The training shows employees how to use the software effectively.
When to Coach, Train, or Consult
The key to success is knowing if your organization needs a consultant, coach, or trainer. Sometimes, you will see that your organization requires all three skills to achieve a specific goal.
For example, a computer manufacturer may have the goal of increasing profitability. A consultant will evaluate their current marketing process and identify what the manufacturer is not doing. They will then provide a solution, encouraging the manufacturer to update their marketing process. The consultant should be a high-level expert on the issue that you’re having with your organization. They should know more about the problem that your organization is facing than your company’s leaders. This means they should have a mix of the required education and real-world experience that will allow them to provide expert feedback on the subject.
Next, a trainer will show the sales team how to use the new marketing process. The trainer will teach new skills to help the team progress. When hiring a trainer, you want to ensure that this individual has the background and qualifications that prove that they have the in-depth knowledge of the subject they are teaching and the qualifications to teach. Some of the best trainers are ex-teachers because they understand what is involved in teaching.
However, there may be some employees who are finding it challenging to adopt the new skills learned. This is where a coach comes along and encourages these employees to want to work in harmony with the team. A good coach will work with leadership to understand the organization’s values and mission before sharing tactics and strategies. They want to help the people they are coaching meet their goals as efficiently as possible.
Appreciating the Limitations of Coaching, Training, and Consulting
Coaches, trainers, and consultants will interact with each other, but each has boundaries. You wouldn’t want to turn to a coach for advice on how to build an economic forecast because that is not in their skill set.
Neither would you turn to a trainer to look for tips to maximize your organization’s marketing potential. That’s not their job. Training is specific and task-orientated. Consulting is over arcing and strategic.
A coach may have a task-orientated or strategic approach. However, their primary concern is helping employees maximize their role with the goal of providing organization-wide benefits.
Unique Relationships with Tangible Results
Coaching, training, and consulting allow an individual to have a unique relationship with an organization and its employees. When a company invests in coaching, training, and consulting, it puts the organization in a position to perform with excellence while maintaining the integrity of the brand and providing a noticeable return on investment.