Business coaching has similar objectives to training courses in that both have the target of improving the effectiveness of employees within a business, in terms of increasing the probability of the organisation's goals being achieved. What these goals are will, to a large extent, influence the type and subject matter of the training courses themselves, or how the direction of the business coaching meetings are steered, but in most instances will be along similar themes and topics.
In terms of differences, whilst both aim to develop people and improve their effectiveness in the job, they will approach it in quite different ways. Training courses will aim to teach new information or refresh existing knowledge. Those attending the course will all receive the same teaching from a course tutor, which can be a good thing if they all need to learn the same material, but can also be a negative if certain parts are irrelevant to their requirements. This one-size-fits-all approach to development also fails to address the specific individual problems facing each person in the room. Failing to focus upon specific problems can be a significant hinderance to progression.
Business coaching on the other hand is nearly always provided on a personal, one-to-one basis. The discussions between the coach and the individual concentrate entirely upon the issues, problems and concerns affecting that person and as such make the time spent 100% relevant to them. Whilst they may not learn any new information as they would on a training course, the discussion of problems combined with the creation of action plans to tackle and overcome them has proven time and again to be a powerful combination when it comes to improving the performance of employees.
As to the question of whether training courses or business coaching is the better option for developing employees, the answer is (rather unhelpfully): it depends. For increasing knowledge and refreshing previously learned information, training courses are the best choice. For overcoming issues and tackling problems which are limiting performance and preventing professional progression, business coaching is the one to choose.
However, why limit yourself to just one? The greatest performance comes from employees who have both the knowledge of how/what to do, and the motivation and psychological freedom to do the task. This means that combining the knowledge acquired from a training course with the benefits achieved through business coaching can result in a highly effective worker.
Of course, the costs involved in providing both coaching and training can be high, which may limit the number of employees a company can develop in such a manner. However it will often prove to be money well spent as the increased performance of the worker results in significant direct and/or indirect financial benefits for the firm, even if it is over the long term, which far outweighs the initial cost of providing them with such development opportunities. So if the training and development budget allows for it, providing both formats is truly the best option for creating a highly effective worker who can help bring about the successful achievement of your company's targets and goals.