When it comes to career advice, most people immediately turn to coaches or consultants. However, the two aren’t always interchangeable. You might be getting less help than you expect if you aren’t clear about the difference between coaching and consulting. Here are some things you should know about coaching versus consulting so that you can get more out of your next career advice session.
What is a coach?
The primary aim of coaching is to provide a supportive structure in which individuals can make sustainable change.
Coaching focuses on turning knowledge, skills, and experience into practice. A coach’s main goal is to help an individual maximize their potential. A coach strives to create a relationship that encourages a person to explore new opportunities while minimizing risk.
Coaches use curiosity and active listening techniques in order to ensure that they better understand their clients’ goals, dreams, fears, struggles, strengths, weaknesses, personality traits, and how these impact them personally.
Coaching may be for you if you need help:
- increasing your productivity
- managing your time
- focusing on one key task at a time
The coach’s role is not to directly tell you what to do or give you solutions; instead, they listen for goals and obstacles that you might not see on your own. They ask questions and provide feedback so that you can work through your problems. They also create a trusting, judgment-free environment. One where honesty and vulnerability are encouraged, so that true progress can be made.
Even if you have a vision of what you want to achieve, making that happen can be difficult.
There may be roadblocks or setbacks that keep you from achieving your goals. And with so many options, it’s hard to know where to start or how to make your dreams come true. That’s where a coach comes in: they provide outside advice and support as you work toward achieving your goals. A coach can also help hold you accountable for taking action on new knowledge and self-awareness.
This helps you really make sustainable change rather than just learning something new then falling back into old habits.
What is a consultant?
A consultant can be a valuable asset to your company, especially if you’re not sure how to handle a specific situation.
They’re basically subject-matter experts who help you tackle problems that might otherwise take your staff longer to solve on their own. Consultants don’t usually perform tasks that could or should be completed by employees.
What do consultants do?
Interact with your team or team members, collect data, analyze data then present solutions. It may sound simple but hiring a consultant for small or large business issues allows companies to focus on their core strengths. All while getting expert advice in one specific area of expertise.
Differences Between Coaching and Consulting
So what does a consultant do, exactly?
Consultants more times than not are working on a team level. Whether it is leadership development, helping customer service efforts, or other business areas. They work with clients (typically a company) to assess their needs and identify possible solutions.
For example, if you need help streamlining your company’s operations, a consultant might give you some suggestions on how to go about doing that.
A business coach, on the other hand, takes a more personal approach. They are looking more at the development of individuals. That's whether it is for personal growth to better fulfill their life roles. Or professional growth, to learn how to advance and navigate their career journeys.
They meet with clients regularly to keep them motivated and accountable as they achieve specific goals.
When to Hire a Coach Versus a Consultant
The word consulting carries a lot of weight, but what does it really mean? Here’s how to tell whether you need to hire a consultant or a coach. And why it matters.
The main difference between a coach and a consultant is that coaches are more focused on personal growth, while consultants are more goal-oriented.
For example, if you’re looking to grow your business or career, then hiring a coach might be helpful.
If you’re looking for specific recommendations about how to structure departments or marketing plans things that can be easily transferred to other situations, then you may want to hire a consultant instead.
Benefits of Working With a Coach
For those who are looking to create lasting change in their life or career, coaches can help. Coaches can support you as you work towards your goals, but they also challenge you to push yourself further than you ever thought possible.
The emotional support and high-quality feedback from a coach can provide insight into how to overcome obstacles and achieve your personal or professional ambitions. If you’re ready to start working with a coach, use these tips on choosing a great one.
Benefits of Working With a Consultant
Consultants are generally thought of as objective professionals who can take an honest look at your business or a specific issue you’re facing.
The benefit of working with a consultant is that you get a person with a fresh perspective on your business, their challenges, and how they can best move forward.
The value of working with a consultant isn’t just getting an outside perspective – it’s being able to communicate to everyone else what you learned from them so they can be part of your growth process, too.
If you are looking to develop the individuals on your team and help them remove roadblocks limiting their individual success and performance abilities, a coach is your best bet.
If you are looking to accomplish a goal, expand and grow processes, cultivate cohesiveness and define roles and responsibilities within your team, a consultant that works in the specific areas of your needs is what you need.