Coaching, counselling, training and mentoring. Is there a difference?


This is a supportive process aimed at being a more person-centered intervention.  It is a process that helps employees define and work through problems that affect job performance.


Personal Counselling

Is concerned with the individual and with the relationship between the individual and the context in which that individual operates. Personal problems may or may not directly affect the individuals’ work-related performance.


Performance Counselling

Is based on assisting employees acknowledge the impact of behavioural or attitudinal issues, on expected performance and agreeing on corrective action.  This can lead to the introduction of the disciplinary procedure for continued poor performance.



Is the formal process of updating the theoretical knowledge of an employee?


Competency based training

Focuses on helping individuals develop the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to perform specific and defined functions (work) in an organisation. 

It focuses on longer-term outcomes of the training and the workplace performance, rather than specific training outcomes of the training process itself. 

The outcomes of the training are clearly defined and available to all. 

Each individual studies only what he/she needs to become competent.  Individuals may therefore develop competence using a wide variety of learning methods at their own pace.

Competency based training results in more responsive, relevant and efficient training for individuals and organisations. 

Training and coaching can also be combined to help employees gain the competence needed.  This is done by updating theoretical knowledge (training) and then applying the skill in the workplace with the assistance and supervision from the manager/supervisor (coaching).



Coaching means that skills and techniques are passed on from the supervisor to the employee.  The progress of the employee is monitored and the supervisor regularly gives feedback on the progress of the employee.

When coaching is applied correctly it will result in lasting behaviour change and create an environment for learning.

Coaching is used when you want to:-

  • Correct improper or dangerous practices
  • Encourage people to work to their limits
  • Express confidence and support
  • Build on existing skills
  • Provide recognition, encouragement, or reassurance.



This happens when a more skilled or experienced person is paired with a lesser skilled or inexperienced one.  The goal of the process will be to have the lesser skilled person grow and develop specific competencies.

  • It is a mutual relationship
  • The mentor is a role model
  • The career of the employee is developed



Transfer of skills and knowledge

Share wisdom and experience

Usually the supervisor

Usually not the supervisor

Directing in nature


Address hard issues such as targets, performance and safety

Address softer issues such as behaviour, personality and career mapping

Deal with work related issues

Personal confidant



Provide resources

Provide personal time and availability


Article Written by © Des Squire