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Coaching Vs. Mentoring

March 4, 2014 - 11:15am


Often times the line that separates coaching and mentoring becomes ambiguous, but there are clear distinctions between the two. Although they are loosely based on the same principles of teaching and development, much can be said about the level of personalization and effect that distinguishes coaching and mentoring. The two can be employed to help further an employee’s position in the office and teach them the necessary skills to be successful. Both can have large positive effects on employees, increasing their efficiency and level of confidence, but it is important to distinguish one from another.

When looking at the two distinct styles of development it is important to note the orientation of the two. Coaching is task oriented with the “focus [being] on concrete issues, such as managing more effectively, speaking more articulately, and learning how to think strategically” (Management Mentors). This requires that the coach be an expert or have a strong background in what he/she is teaching. On the other hand, mentoring is relationship oriented. Like coaching it can create specific goals and achievements, but now the “focus goes beyond these areas to include things, such as work/life balance, self-confidence, self-perception, and how the personal influences the professional” (Management Mentors). The mentor does not necessarily have to be an expert in any particular field, but rather someone the mentee can trust and learn from on a more personal level.

When a mentor takes on a mentee, he/she realizes that this will be a long term commitment. Often times a mentor can be found on the job from 9 months to a year, sometimes longer. Coaching, within itself, is a short term project for quick solutions. This quick turnaround produced from coaching shows that coaching is performance driven. Once the skills have been taught the coach is no longer needed. This is not the case for mentoring. Mentoring is development driven with both the current job performance of the mentee being enhanced but as well as future performance (Management Mentors). The level of trust that is created between the mentor and mentee evokes a higher level of confidence in the mentee that will follow him/her for the rest of his/her career.

In order to create a sense of trust between the mentor and mentee a design phase must be incorporated. This means that the mentor must analyze and get to know his/her mentee and create a plan that is best suited for that person. This creates a personalized plan that often executive coaching cannot provide. Coaching can be brought in by a company at almost any time to help solve a problem. Often times there is no design plan, other than coordinating the arrival of the coach. It is less personalized, with large numbers attending training sessions. A final aspect to consider is the role of the manager in situations of coaching and mentoring. With coaching the manager of the mentee is often involved to see immediate results and to provide feedback to the coach where quick improvement is needed. With mentoring “the immediate manager is indirectly involved” (Management Mentors). Although the manager can provide feedback it has more to do with how the mentee should use their mentoring experience. Other than that the manager is hands off, letting the mentor create a relationship with the mentee, and checking in only periodically.

Even though there are major differences between coaching and mentoring the two share a lot with each other. Mentors often utilize coaching skills to work with their mentee’s. These include “[Being] clear about big picture career goals, [identifying] leadership qualities, [developing] accountability to accomplish important long-term development goals, and [understanding] their own value and needs” (The Leadership Difference). A good mentor can incorporate the techniques of coaching and create a level of trust with the mentee. These coaching techniques can be expanded over the course of many months to efficiently reach the goals of the mentee and develop the mentee for their future career.

In the end both mentoring and coaching try to reach similar goals of enhancing those worked with. Both share similar tactics to obtain those end results but the level of relationship is different. A sense of trust is instilled in both the mentor and the mentee and is used to develop the mentee for bigger picture engagements. After the longer process of mentoring is over the mentor can be an advocate for the mentee, attesting for the skills and development gained over time. Coaching and mentoring both provide growth, but mentoring is supposed to build not only the skills of the mentee but also the character.


The Leadership Difference. Ken Blachard Companies, 2014. Web.

Management Mentors. "The Differences between Coaching and Mentoring." Management Mentors. N.p., 2014. Web.