The Differences Between Coaching, Mentoring, Training and Counselling

coaching mentoring training counselling

This is the most frequent question asked by managers. Many are confused with the terms and wonder which one is the best approach for the workplace environment.

Whether it is coaching, mentoring, training, or counselling, they are merely different leadership approaches. All of them advocate one common objective, i.e. improves human performance. Different folks different strokes. We do not have best leadership approach, we only have a best fit leadership approach to the situation you are dealing with.

By the way, find out why sport coaching and professional coaching are different.

The Differences Between Coaching, Mentoring, Training, and Counselling

The differences can be understood as follows: 






Improve behavioural performance for personal and professional success.

Support and guide personal or professional growth.

Transfer specific knowledge and skills.

Improve performance below standards.


Goal achievement


Learning results

Performance improvement


Help individuals or groups self discover and take ownership to achieve desired goal.

Transfer formal and tacit knowledge, skills, best practices, experience, wisdom and mindset.

Transfer specific knowledge and skills.

Confront, correct, and instruct of attitudinal or behavioural change.

Focused areas

  • Focus on the coachee's goal.
  • Help the coachee self discover hidden potentials and make behavioural and performance change.
  • Focus on the mentee's personal / career goal.
  • No specific learning plan - can be done formally and informally.
  • Help the student acquire specific knowledge and skills.
  • Learning based on pre-determined learning curriculum.
  • Manage the employee's below standard performance.
  • Listen to their issues, give feedback, and manage expectations explicitly.






Communication styles

  • Non-directive.
  • Ask questions, listen, and give feedback.
  • Directive and non-directive.
  • Ask questions, listen, and give advice.
  • Use more directive than non-directive.
  • Tell, advise, and ask questions.
  • Use more directive than non-directive.
  • Tell, advise, and ask questions.

Time orientation

Present and future

Present and future


Past and present


Short and medium

Medium and long



* Confine to non-clinical counselling and performance improvement needs in the workplace environment.

Meanwhile, click here and find out what exactly coaching is

In the workplace, a manager wears different leadership hats at different times and situations. If you are the manager who has mastered both directive and non-directive communication styles, you have an edge to instruct, influence, and inspire your people.

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Simon Yap

Simon is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) specialise in B2B sales, leadership, and executive coaching. He has affinity for running, foods, travelling, and content conversion.