• Piret Saag

Who Is the Right People Person for You?


Who is the right People Person for you? Defining coaching, mentoring, training, counseling and consulting

"Lately I hear people talking more and more about coaching and mentoring in a workplace context, but to be honest, I don’t really understand what is what.”

Confusion around new business and leadership support professions

The quote above is what one CEO asked me last month and I totally get him. While there are new approaches and methods that are making waves amongst modern learning and development initiatives and organisational support professions, there’s still a lot that is unclear around what is what and how to eat it. Do we need mentors? Do we need coaches? Do we need anyone at all? To save you from asking from a clairvoyant about how does coaching differ from consulting, who are the modern support professions and what they can help with, there's a truly simple clarification of definitions for you below.


What’s your real need?

Starting cooperation with a professional coach or any other people person who can help a CEO or the team further, becomes a topic of its own when there's certain pain or yearning for a change - to put it simply - in the way things get done.

Example 1:

A team lead has received harsh, yet enlightening feedback and has now set out to raise her personal bar as a leader and wants to work with her development goals. But….eee, how then?


Example 2:

There’s a company-wide goal to build a culture that reflects that of a truly learning organisation. Which way to go? What initiatives, methods, approaches will serve our goals best? Who can help us here?

As you can see, understanding who you need, starts with checking where it hurts, what's the real need. The next step is to understand the options and experts available to you. As there’s still confusion around terms, it makes sense to get those basics right.



Who does what?


Here is a simple clarification using the definitions from International Coach Federation for five personal and organisational support professions: coaching, mentoring, consulting, training and counseling:


  • Coaching

Partnering in a thought-provoking and creative process to maximize personal and professional potential.

  • Mentoring

Offering guidance from one’s own experience or in a specific area of career development.

  • Consulting

Assessing an organisation’s practices and recommending solutions for improvement based on expertise in a specific area.

  • Training

Working toward achievement of specific training objectives based on a set curriculum.

  • Counseling

Healing pain, dysfunction or conflict in service of improved emotional state.


🤔What is the main pain point in your professional development or that of your team’s currently? Who is best suited to help you take the next step?


The art of succeeding

When choosing between options that can boost personal and organisational development, much of it boils down to a) what’s the exact need and b) clarifying how success looks/feels/smells like.


If you can answer these two questions, at least partially, it’s much easier to decide on how to move on with realising your desired goals, and choose the right professionals who could support you along the way.

The right solution for you or your colleague may be something specific, e.g. personal coaching during the following six months or a healthy mix of skills training combined with working with an internal mentor. Just make sure you’ve thought about your WHY. 😉

Keep in mind, that just as you and your company has the unique “way you work” approach, each mentor, coach, consultant, trainer, counselor have their own “handwriting”. It is an individual philosophy around how they work and what they believe in, who they prefer to work with and what’s their professional educational background. For example, I’ve outlined some of the key pillars of my ways of working here.

Last but not least, one of the most important success factors is how you “click” with the person you will be working with. It’s people business, after all, so get curious before deciding on who's the best match for you.

Photo credits https://you-and-them.com/asking-questions-part-1/ & Toa Heftiba on Unsplash