Coaches VS Trainers

Economy April 15, 2013 00:00

By Michael Heah

Special to The

47,849 Viewed

People are often confused about the difference between a coach and a trainer, and unless it is cleared, these two terms will remain ambiguous. Plus, this has become a rather "hot topic" of discussion since the Coaching Standards was launched in March. H

Is a coach the same as a trainer?

No, a coach is not a trainer, and a trainer is not a coach. They operate differently. A coach is a process expert, while a trainer is an expert in subject matter. The implications of this is that a coach can support many people and organisations without knowing the subject matter, while a trainer is more restricted as they can only support those who require their technical expertise in a specific field.


What is a process expert?

A process expert is a coach who can stretch and challenge the mind of the person and help them find a solution that they believe lies inside them. Their mission is to get the person to think hard by evoking, provoking and persuading them to think deeply so they can "clear the jungles" in their minds for a clear pathway, where the treasure trove of ideas and solutions lie. Doing it this way makes the coach a partner of equal status with the person concerned. Metaphorically, the style used is getting the person to "upload" the knowledge themselves, instead of "downloading" it into them.

What do you mean by a subject matter expert?

This means that the trainer has a pool of knowledge that he is an expert in. Their mission is to impart or transfer this knowledge to the other person through teaching, lecturing and discussion, etc.

So why is the coaching method preferred?

A coach firmly believes that when a person finds their own solution, they become more empowered with confidence and are accountable to what they want. It helps them in the long term. But when we tell them what to do, we indirectly take away their power, because we "give them fish and not a fishing line to teach them how to fish".

Can a coach train?

Definitely! A coach is multi-skilled. They are people transformation experts. They know when to tell and when to ask for the answer. They will tell up to a point when it is absolutely necessary, but will gradually switch to the non-directive method of asking and challenging when it is time for them to work toward a solution.

Is coaching time consuming?

In the short term, it appears to be slower than just giving instructions because you get to ask questions. An inexperienced coach will spend more time like any other person who is new in the field. For instance, a new driver will take a longer time to reach a destination compared to an experienced one. However, an experienced coach, through the power of their questions, can move a person faster. They help them gain insights that opens their mind to more and better solutions.

What advice do you have for trainers who want to go into coaching?

A trainer will always be more powerful when they incorporate coaching to expand their repertoire of skills. When they combine "downloading-uploading" methods, they accelerate learning. More importantly, what they learn is retained and their change in behaviour becomes more sustainable. On the business side, a trainer with coaching skills will have a winning edge over other trainers. The market for trainers is very saturated. More and more people are jumping into the training bandwagon offering the same expertise and using the same methods. With coaching skills, they steer themselves out of this overcrowded place and create a blue ocean of opportunities for themselves.

Note: Corporate Coach Academy is an Asia-based coaching school that provides certification for manager-coaches or professional certified coaches. Log into or for details.