The Difference Between Training and Development

How much budget have you wasted on training that didn’t result in ROI? I’m a sales trainer and business coach that sees failed training and development programs every day. If you are spending your training dollars on training that strengthens employees’ skills while allowing them to grow personally and professionally — then you are in the very successful minority.

Training vs. Development

There is a big difference between training and development. If you (and your HR team) don’t know the difference between these terms, you are spending money providing training to executives and managers who already have the skills and knowledge they need. This training will not move the needle for your company. What you need is to develop existing skills to their maximum potential.

Training = Teaching New Skills

Development = Perfecting Existing Skills

You have likely invested a lot in recruitment so you could find and hire the best possible candidates, right? They have the knowledge and skills, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be successful in your company. How many times have you met individuals with Ivy League degrees whose careers went nowhere?

The Importance of Training and Development

The foundation of running and building a company lies in the overall performance of the team. Your success depends on your ability to identify, recruit, hire, develop and retain the absolute best talent you can afford to achieve the highest level of performance. I have written quite a few articles on the issues related to identifying, recruiting and hiring the right talent. While that is a big struggle for many companies, there is a real issue related to developing and retaining good talent.

As a business coach, I have had an opportunity to visit with hundreds of CEOs and peek under the hood of many of their companies. From what I have seen, even from some of the companies that have good revenue and profit growth, there is a lot of lip service paid to staff being important, being a real asset to the business and the key to their success, but their actions and treatment of these so called “assets” is inconsistent with their words.

If CEOs really meant what they said about talent, there would be a lot more emphasis on employee development. It would start first with hiring stronger people to run the Human Resource function (or outsourcing in smaller companies) to bring a more strategic view to developing the organization’s talent. Many executives think that if they hire the right people then they do not need to worry about development, and this could not be further from the truth.

Defining the Difference Between Training vs. Development

I first want to clarify the difference between training and development. Oftentimes these two terms are used interchangeably. There is an important distinction, and many times leadership uses training improperly, causing them to misuse company resources for the sake of saying they provide training and development.


Training is the process for transferring knowledge, experience, or new skills to a person or group that does not currently possess them. Training is the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competencies as a result of teaching.


Development is a more holistic process of helping an individual to achieve peak potential. Development teaches people how to become more productive and effective at work and at the company. In other words, training provides the skill and development maximizes it. Training is a component of development and only part of the equation.

When you focus on developing your employees, you are helping them use their existing skills and your company resources to perform better. The best development programs give employees the opportunity to discover things that they would have never discovered in their day-to-day work. As you strengthen individuals, the team as a whole also becomes stronger. As the team gets stronger, the organization becomes more successful.

Components of Employee Development

Organizations that take employee development seriously have a complete talent management system. In addition to training, the following are components you should consider in your employee development program:

1. Position Profile 

The position profile helps the employee see how their role fits in the context of the organization and communicates the link between business strategy and internal processes. It is a detailed piece of information that provides the required competencies and skills to execute the position successfully, and the position’s performance accountability and performance management aspects. By comparing the needs of the position with your employees and candidates for the position, you can see gaps and, when necessary, provide training to fill the gaps.

2. Key Performance Indicators 

By establishing key performance indicators, measuring performance and communicating those performance results, you help your employees understand how they are doing in your organization. When gaps in performance are occurring, it points to developmental needs for that individual.

3. Performance Reviews 

We recommend performance feedback on at least an annual basis.

4. Developmental Program 

During this annual process, the supervisor and employees work together to identify steps to help that individual to improve their skills and approach to their current positions as well as help them prepare for growth for greater opportunities. This is a proactive approach to identifying reading materials, seminars, workshops, webinars, and other ways to assist the employees to propel their careers.

5. Mentor Programs 

A mentor is someone that shows you the way. They have been there before, so they show you how they have done it. Their qualification is the outcomes they have achieved. They are typically donating their time and not getting compensated for the advice they bring.

6. Executive Coaching 

The executive coach’s role is to help an individual unlock their potential and is not about teaching or showing the way. The coach helps the person being coached discover areas where their motives, values, and personality traits are causing them to be less effective as a leader. The biggest part of coaching is to help the person being coached become self-aware, as research has shown that the higher the position a person holds within an organization, the higher the gap in self-awareness.

Your people truly are the most important asset in your organization. They were hired for their skills and knowledge, and it is time to think about developing their skills to their maximum potential to propel your organization’s growth.

Howard Shore is a leadership development, executive coach and business coach who works with companies that need leadership development and strategic business coaching. Based in Miami, Florida and Dallas, Texas, Howard’s firm, Activate Group, Inc. provides leadership coaching to businesses across the country. To learn more about leadership development coaching through AGI, please contact us today or give us a call at 305.722.7213.

Successful Sales Techniques: It’s All Semantics

As a long-time sales consultant, I have seen it all when it comes to unpolished sales technique. Of course every industry is different, but industry has almost nothing to do with the tried-and-true tactics of the most successful salespeople within it.

When coaching salespeople, I help them refine their process to encourage dialogue and create more opportunities to get the prospect engaged enough to say ‘yes’. One of the most overlooked skills that can make a real difference in sales success: semantics.

You read it right. Word choice is huge for salespeople. The way you speak to prospective clients can make the difference between closing and not closing the deal. Here are some useful phrase substitutions that will project an air of professionalism and polish that will build authority, encourage dialogue and help close more business.

INSTEAD OF…                                            USE:

Who is the final decision maker?  Who else, besides yourself, is involved in making this decision?

Do you have any questions?         What questions do you have?

Keep us in mind for the future.   When can we further discuss moving forward?

Is now a good time?                      I’m glad I was able to reach you.

Do you have any pet peeve statements or sales don’ts?

Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or