Difference Between Training, Mentoring and Coaching
Employee Training

Difference Between Training, Mentoring and Coaching

8 mins read

by Pete Ford

Updated On Dec 06, 2023

Table of Content

In today's competitive business landscape, companies constantly seek ways to boost employee performance, enhance engagement, and strengthen the bond between employees and managers. But how do they pull it off?

Frequently Used Employee Development Approaches
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The best way to achieve these goals is to invest in employee development programs. When it comes to employee development, companies often use three approaches: coaching, mentoring, and training

It's pretty common to get these three mixed up. But there are key distinctions between them. Yes, you read it right. These are different. Let’s clearly understand the difference between training, mentoring and coaching. 

Before diving deep into the difference, first, we understand these terms. Shall we start?


In simple words, training is passing the knowledge. It's about acquiring new information or enhancing existing skills in a structured and focused setting. 

Imagine you're a chef who knows French cuisine but has always wanted to master the art. You sign up for a cooking class where an experienced chef shows the techniques and provides hands-on guidance. That's training in a nutshell.

Training is like giving your team a superpower boost. It's about giving them the knowledge and skills they need to perform at their best and tackle new challenges.

Understanding the benefits of training will give you a better idea of the difference between training, mentoring and coaching. Benefits of training may include:


Mentoring is like having a personal GPS for your professional life. It's about guiding, advising, and helping you through the maze of your career or personal growth. 

When comparing training, mentoring, and coaching, mentoring isn't just about following a predetermined route. It's about empowering you to discover your own path, set your goals, and find your unique voice. A mentor is there to hold up the lantern, not to dictate the direction.

The benefits of mentoring are as follows:

  • Performance enhancement
  • Promotes accountability
  • Goal achievement


Coaching is a collaborative process where a coach guides an individual to acquire new skills, achieve career transformations, and accomplish personal goals. Unlike mentoring or training, coaching empowers employees to take ownership of their development journey.

The advantages of coaching are:

Key Differences Between Training, Mentoring, and Coaching

Now, let’s move to distinguishing training, mentoring, and coaching.

Purpose: Training, mentoring, and coaching all help employees and organizations achieve their goals. Although they share some commonalities, they also have distinct purposes:

  • Training imparts specific knowledge or skills to employees.
  • Mentoring guides, supports, and encourages employees to develop their careers or personal lives.
  • Coaching helps employees improve their performance and achieve their goals by challenging their thinking, asking probing questions, and providing feedback.

Approach:  Understanding the direction of each process is essential to knowing coaching vs mentoring vs training: which one do your employees need?  

  • Training is a structured process that is typically instructor-led and involves the delivery of information, demonstration of techniques, and practice opportunities.
  • Mentoring is a more informal and developmental approach to learning. It entails a partnership between a more experienced person (mentor) and a less experienced person (mentee). 
  • Coaching is a more focused and goal-oriented approach to development. It involves a coach working with individuals to help them achieve specific goals.

Focus: Training, mentoring, and coaching are all valuable tools for personal and professional development, but they have different focuses and outcomes.

  • Training imparts specific skills or knowledge to enhance competence in a particular area.
  • Mentoring cultivates long-term career and personal growth by providing guidance and support.
  • Coaching helps you identify their goals, develop strategies, overcome obstacles and take on new challenges.

Role of Facilitator: The role of the facilitator is different in each of the three approaches.

  • An expert trainer delivers training. Trainers are responsible for designing and delivering the training program and assessing the participants' understanding of the material.
  • The mentor guides and supports a mentee. They share their knowledge and experience and help the mentee develop their skills and careers.
  • The coach is a facilitator who helps the individual set goals, identify obstacles, and develop strategies for success. They provide feedback and support and help the individual hold themselves accountable.

Relationship: Training, mentoring, and coaching differ in focus, structure, and hierarchy level.

  • Training is the most hierarchical of the three, with a clear instructor-student relationship.
  • Mentoring is less hierarchical than training, with a more collaborative relationship between the mentor and mentee. 
  • Coaching is the non-hierarchical of the three, focusing on empowering the coachee to take ownership of their own learning and development. 

Duration: Training, mentoring, and coaching are all valuable tools to improve employees' skills. The duration of all three processes depends on individual needs and goals.

  • Training is typically short-term, ranging from a few hours to a few weeks.
  • Mentoring is typically a longer-term relationship lasting for several months or even years.
  • Coaching can vary in duration depending on the goals of the coaching relationship.

Here is a one-glancer at the difference between training, mentoring, and coaching:

Key Differences Between Training, Mentoring, and Coaching
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When should training, mentoring, and coaching be used?

The best approach to development depends on the individual's needs and goals. Training is a good option when individuals need to learn new skills or knowledge. Mentoring is a good option when individuals need guidance and support from someone who has been in their shoes. Coaching is a good option when individuals want to achieve specific goals and need help developing a plan to achieve them.

What are the challenges of training, mentoring, and coaching?

Some of the challenges of training, mentoring, and coaching include identifying the right approach for the individual, finding qualified facilitators, ensuring that the development activities are effective and providing ongoing support.

How can I measure the effectiveness of training, mentoring, and coaching?

You can utilize pre and post-training assessments, feedback from participants, observation of behaviour change, and tracking of performance metrics to measure the effectiveness of your program.


In the world of personal and professional growth, coaching, training, and mentoring stand as three distinct yet interconnected approaches, each playing a unique role in shaping individuals' journeys. Understanding the difference between training, mentoring, and coaching will help determine which program is required for your organization's growth.

While they possess their own strengths and applications, these methods are not mutually exclusive. In fact, when combined effectively, they can create a powerful synergy, providing a comprehensive framework for holistic development. If you are planning for training, mentoring or coaching programs in your organization, contact edstellar today.

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