As you can see, coaching is fundamentally different from mentoring. However, there are also many similarities between coaching and mentoring:
- Both support human development
- Both are based on 1-1 relationships
- Both work best when there is a good personal relationship between both parties
- Both usually involve a series of meetings over several months
- Both involve personal agreements Both can be integrated into L&D programs
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Coaching and Mentoring
Most of what I have discussed so far is quite clear and unambiguous. However, some aspects of coaching and mentoring are a little more blurred. I have called these tendencies, they are true most of the time, but not always. Mentoring tends to focus on longer-term issues. Rather, coaching focuses on immediate topics related to skills and performance in the current role. Because of this first point, mentoring tends to be a longer-term relationship. Mentoring agreements are for a minimum of 6 months. Although coaching involves a series of meetings, it tends to be shorter, for example, 2-3 months.
Mentors are more from the field. Coaches are more likely to be sourced externally. It is also important to note:
- The mentor can sometimes use coaching skills.
- A coach can sometimes share his experiences.
This should not confuse the fundamental difference between coaching and mentoring.
The Differnces Between Coaching and Mentoring
You can hire a coach for several months to help you overcome a specific challenge. After a few years if you want to upgrade your marketing strategy, you can bring in another business coach to help you achieve this goal. In comparison, mentors tend to be open-ended relationships lasting years or even decades. A mentor’s advice can help you navigate multiple stages of your career, from achieving profitability to developing an exit strategy.
Business coaches are typically more task-oriented helping their clients achieve goals such as increasing sales, improving employee morale, or increasing brand awareness. A coach can create a checklist to ensure you follow their recommendations and stay on track.
Mentors strive to help you become a better business leader. They offer personal insights like how they achieved their success or overcame obstacles but they don’t give you a step-by-step plan.
Business coaches often give their clients homework and schedule regular meetings to discuss their progress weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Mentors usually give advice informally. Their guidance will be more conversational than instructional. Generally, meetings are held as needed when the mentee has a question or problem they want to address.