Mentoring vs. Coaching: Definitions and Similarities

What is The Difference Between Mentoring and Coaching

  • Ayushi Singh
    Ayushi Singh

You may have heard of coaching and mentoring. Many times, these terms are used interchangeably in a work environment. However, these terms aim to improve your professional performance by providing proper guidance and support.

Coaching and mentoring are two approaches that help individuals in their growth, development, and journey towards attaining their full potential. However, both these concepts act differently, and you may not need both of them to improve your performance. Let us understand the method that is most suitable for you by understanding what is the difference between mentoring and coaching.

What are coaching and mentoring?

Coaching is the process of providing you with the maximum support to help you reach your full potential. You are guided by a coach that always questions your ideas and challenges you to think more deeply. Coaching aims to help you come to your conclusions by listening, questioning, and challenging your views. It helps you grow and shape your mindset. Moreover, you can be more clear about your expectations, and your goals can be broken down into achievable steps.

On the other hand, in mentoring, a senior person guides you through your job roles and helps you achieve your maximum potential. These mentors provide support and feedback and help you perform better in your job. The mentor spends time with you and tries to understand you and your challenges.

Coaches help you navigate through your difficulties and help you acquire a specific skill. Moreover, they help you make a move in your organization. The objective of hiring a mentor is to get assistance in personal development. They help you realize your potential and accelerate your growth professionally.

Similarities between coaching and mentoring

There are differences as well as similarities between coaching and mentoring. You can look at the pros and cons of these two approaches to know what will work better for you.

Both coaching and mentoring are the approaches to support your personal development. These changes are essential to revive your professional career. Coaching and mentoring help you share your knowledge, enhance your skills and give you exposure to new perspectives. Other similarities between these two approaches are:

  • Mentoring and coaching focus on one-to-one relationships that are non-judgmental and supportive.
  • You need to invest your time in a series of meetings.
  • Both the approaches tend to involve a personal agreement between you and your mentor or coach. This contract defines the goals of the sessions and how the progress towards those goals will be measured.
  • Coaching and mentoring focus on observing, listening, and moving back and forth to understand your situation.
  • The focus of both these approaches is to help you develop your thought process. As a result, mentoring and coaching uses questioning techniques.

Differences between mentoring and coaching

The point of difference between these two approaches are:

  • The major difference between coaching and mentoring is that mentoring is directive. On the contrary, coaching is non-directive. It means during a mentorship, the mentor does most of the talking and tells the mentee what they need to do. However, this is not the case in a coaching approach. Here, the coaches encourage you to do most of the talking.
  • Mentoring is a long-term process that generally lasts for more than one year. On the other hand, coaching is a short-term process that lasts anywhere between six months to a year.
  • Mentorship is more like forming a long-lasting career friendship, and the sessions are conducted according to the requirement. However, things are different in the case of coaching. The meeting in coaching is more structured and formal.
  • The mentee forms the agenda of mentorship, and the mentor supports that agenda. However, in coaching, the agenda is set by the coach.
  • There is no fixed outcome in mentorship, and the goal may change over time. On the contrary, the outcome of a coaching agreement is measurable.

Coaching vs. Mentorship

Coaching can also be seen as a training method. However, in training, the topics are decided based on the brief or needs of the individual. In contrast, coaches do not provide a fixed framework; instead, they provide ample space to you so you can come up with your answers.

Both techniques effectively improve your performance and enhance your productivity. Moreover, coaching and mentoring also improve employee retention and engagement. Moreover, these approaches can be implemented in organizations of every size.

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