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Counselling or Coaching: What's the difference?

by , 24 February 2016
Counselling and coaching may appear to be the same, but they have their differences.

Coaching refers to getting your employees to do things differently to be more efficient and effective in the workplace.

It is about clearing an employee's obstacles in order to perform more, while counselling refers to helping employees with personal and interpersonal issues.

To help you understand these differences more, here's a list of issues for which each approach is used...


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Use counselling for…

·         Personal problems;
·         Coping with change;
·         Work-life balance issues;
·         High levels of stress;
·         Behavioural problems (for example, emotional outbursts); and
·         Interpersonal conflict.

Coaching, on the other hand, should be used for…

·         Expectations relating to an employee's role, goals and performance standards;
·         Job-specific skills and competencies;
·         Development to enhance performance and for future opportunities;
·         Company values and the things are done in the company.

NOTE: The differences between coaching and counselling are not always clear, and so a combined approach is often used as employees' issues are sometimes directly linked to others.

For example, Richard is struggling with change in his department due to the introduction of a new computer system.

Not only is this change putting pressure and stress on him, but his ability to operate the new system is not adequate.

So Richard is struggling with change (counselling issue) because of his inadequate skills (coaching issue).

So here you would use a combined approach to help with coping with the change and with the development of his skills to adequately operate the new system.

To learn more on counselling and coaching your employees to improve their overall performance, turn to chapter C 02: Counselling and coaching to improve performance in your Practical Guide to Human Resources Management handbook, or click here to order your copy today. 

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