Difference between coaching and mentoring

Difference between coaching and mentoring

Difficulty understanding the difference between a mentor and a coach?

By the end of this article, you will understand the difference and similarities between a mentor and a coach.

You will also understand why you should hire a mentor or a coach?

We will describe the term ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’. We shall also discuss the importance of a coach or a mentor and the pros and cons of coaching and mentoring to help you decide who is right for you.

In this article, we will discuss the following:

What is coaching and mentoring?

  •   a. What is a coach?
  •   b. What is a mentor?

Why hiring a coach or mentor could be your smartest decision? 

The need for coaching and mentoring

  • a. Top 10 reasons when and why you should hire a Mentor 
  • b. Top 10 reasons when and why you should hire a Coach

What is the difference between:

  • a. Mentoring vs Coaching
  • b. Coaching vs Counselling
  • c. Counselling vs Mentoring

Similarities between coaching and mentoring

  • Benefits of a coaching relationship
  • Benefits of a mentoring relationship
  • Frequently Asked Questions about Coaching & Mentoring


1. What is coaching and mentoring?

Coaching assists people to become more effective and better at what they do. They could hire a coach to improvise employee performance by walking them through the process / work, making it easier for them to increase their performance. Coaches help their clients develop skills and knowledge through dialogue with them. They provide feedback on how well they have mastered concepts and strategies. Helping them improve performance by providing opportunities to practice new learning. A coach-mentor relationship develops over time as both parties gain confidence and trust. The mentor shares his or her experiences to help and guide the mentee through their difficult phase. Mentees use anecdotes of their experience, which act a moral or an example to the individual. The mentor plays the part of a ‘Role Model’ in order to guide the mentee / person seeking help at its finest. Effective mentoring and coaching processes can lead the individual to the desired goal or target.

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What is a coach?

A Coach helps people improve themselves through personal growth. They provide guidance and support so that individuals can reach their full potential. An effective and good coach helps clients develop self-awareness, build confidence, set realistic expectations and change their lives for a positive outcome.A coach would provide strategies for achieving the “desired” goal of the coachee. A coach is experienced and has mastered the ‘field’ the where the coachee is yet a beginner in.Coaches make it his/her primary goal to motivate the coachee to increase his/her performance level.“Coach” the term was first used in 18th century England when it referred to horse trainers.

In modern usage, however, the word refers primarily to those who specialize in helping athletes reach peak physical condition.We have mentioned the key difference between coaching and mentoring and the pros and cons of coaching and mentoring below.

What is a mentor?

A Mentor has similar functions as a coach. However, mentors work with more experienced professionals who want to share knowledge and experience with younger colleagues. The primary goal of a mentor is to assist someone else (a mentee) in reaching success. An experienced professional who can help you achieve your goals by sharing his/her knowledge, expertise and their personal experience.A senior leader or a business leader could be an effective mentor to someone who is just beginning. 

Mentors are usually older than their mentees, but they don’t have any authority over them. The mentor acts as a role model and guides the mentee through their difficult circumstances by sharing their personal experiences as a moral based story. Some mentors may use ‘humor’ to break through the subconscious walls that are built by the mentee / client. They act as role models for younger people. We would often witness a successful person having a mentor guiding them.

Coaches are mentors too, but coaches work on a one-on-one basis and few times like a mentor does. A mentor has better strategies and understanding of the mentee when they have attended a mentor coaching session or mentoring program.

Here, I have attached a link to an effective mentoring program / mentor coaching program.

Mentoring program link: CHRMP Mentorship Program

2. Why hiring a coach or a mentor could be your smartest decision?

The need for coaching and mentoring

Mentors are people who help others grow, develop, or learn new skills while guiding us through the process so that we don’t feel overwhelmed. The mentor provides us with emotional support while mapping out our ‘short-term goals’ and ‘long-term goals’. There are many reasons it has proven coaching and mentoring in a workplace to be successful for both the employees and the company as well. Coaching and mentoring leadership has been proven to be successful for the growth of the coachee/ mentee. They have attained their task target effortlessly as the coach or the mentor gives them a different perspective.

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Example: A singer quit singing and started consuming alcohol;

The mentor would work on a way to get the singer back to singing by finding out the root cause of why this is happening and what is the reason the singer is consuming and choosing alcohol over singing. The mentor would then find the help (like a counsellor / psychologist) Coaches work with an individual on their own goals and objectives. They provide feedback and support during this process.The coach may not work on the emotional front as much as the mentor, but their primary goal is for us to reach our target.

Example: A writer finds himself / himself in the middle of a ‘writer’s block’; 

His / Her coach would help him get out of the writer’s block by making a chart of “plan of action”, writing and mapping out the strategies and ways of completing the book.The coach wouldn’t try to understand why the writer is facing a block. The coach’s aim is to getting the task completed.It has proven effective coaching and mentoring to be great for learning and development on long-term basis.The mentors and coaches have certain ethics in coaching and mentoring that they are required to follow.These ethics of coaching and mentoring ( called ethical code )are mandatory and should not be violated.

An example of one of these ethics is: The mentor-mentee, coach-coachee relationship needs to be kept confidential and respectful.The coach or mentor may be in charge, but they cannot be authoritative over the coachee or mentee.

Top 10 reasons When and why you would / should hire a mentor:

1. You may need feedback. Feedback helps us learn how we think about things and gives us an opportunity to change our thinking if necessary.It doesn’t matter whether your goal is to get promoted at work or become more successful in life; without feedback, there’s nothing for you to improve upon. If you don’t ask others for their opinion, then you’re missing out on valuable information.

2. Your goals may seem unrealistic. We all set lofty goals when we start something new. But as time goes by, they often lose some luster. The problem with setting high expectations is that you might end up disappointed because you didn’t achieve them. It is important to maintain and decide development goals.

 3. You may lack confidence. Confidence comes from knowing yourself well enough to understand what motivates you and what makes you happy. Without this knowledge, you’ll never reach your full potential. 

4. You may feel stuck. Sometimes we just run into dead ends. This happens even though we’ve followed through with everything we planned. When this occurs, it’s helpful to talk to another person about your situation so that you can figure out what went wrong. 

5. You may be afraid of failure. Failure isn’t always bad. In fact, sometimes failing means you learned something useful. 

6. You’re probably not sure which direction to go. Often, we find ourselves lost in the middle of nowhere. To move forward, we must first decide which way to travel. 

7. You might be overwhelmed. As humans, we tend to over-analyze situations instead of looking at it for the way it is. By taking immediate action, you won’t waste any energy worrying about details later.

8. You may not be clear about your values. Values guide our actions. They determine how we behave towards other people and how we treat the world. 

9. You probably have a busy schedule . Time management skills are essential to success. Even if you are too busy, a well-scheduled chart could serve the purpose

10. You may not be confident. Confidence allows you to act boldly and confidently.

Top 10 reasons When and why you would / should hire a Coach:

1. You may not be good at asking questions. Questions allow us to gain insight into different perspectives.We rarely ask questions at all or even if we do, they aren’t the accurate questions to serve the purpose of the task.

2. You’re not aware of opportunities. Opportunities come along only once in a while. Knowing what you want and what your is your primary goal or target is crucial. Most of us are unaware of the surrounding opportunities. This diminishes our chances of growth in our field.

3. You may be disorganised. Organization keeps you focused on getting work done. We let go of organisation once a link is disrupted, just like the domino effect. However, it is important to go ahead with organising our tasks in a manner that we feel validated on accomplishing them.

4. Perhaps you procrastinate. Procrastination leads to inaction. There are 2 major reasons for procrastination: 

  • You are a perfectionist: A perfectionist needs his/ her task to perfect instead of just completed and that can act as a stressor.
  • Affecting their work, they let go or postpone the task until they are feeling better.
  • You lack the motivation: An individual who doesn’t see his / her benefit or interest in the topic or task will not feel motivated to complete it.
  • Hence, you will find them procrastinating the very last moment. 

5. You may dislike criticism. Criticism forces us to confront reality. Criticism gives you a sense of being judged. Some of us may take it as an enormous deal and completely avoid the task with the motive of “not being judged”

6. You’re not comfortable sharing your ideas. Sharing your thoughts lets others see your vision clear. Some of us are shy, an introvert or may lack self-esteem and may not want to disclose our ideas in front of others.

7. You May have a troublesome time admitting mistakes. Mistakes teach us lessons, but we don’t enjoy admitting our mistakes and errors as the term ‘mistakes’ is used and thought of as a sign of weakness. This could also lead to frustration and stress.

8. You may not be open to learning. Learning requires effort and not everybody will put in the effort in learning something that they don’t know. This stems from the previous point where the individual would have to admit to being naïve about many things which may demean them.

9. You may not be patient. Patience enables us to wait until the right moment arrives. An individual who has leadership qualities shows traits of patience. Leadership development and patience go side by side. 

10. Discipline may not be one of your strengths. Discipline is the key to success.

Often we take it for granted, which leads us to an unaccomplished task that can bring down our willpower, drive and motivation to work towards another task.

3. What is the Difference?

Coaching vs Mentoring 

The differences between coaching and mentoring (mentoring vs coaching) are subtle but important and it is important to know the differences in order to understand who is right for you. We have used the two terms interchangeably many times. There are a few similarities between coaching and mentoring, but there are situations where they actually mean different things. In this article, we will discuss what these key differences are and how to distinguish them when you need to decide about which one of the two approaches would be best for your situation.

Mentor | Definition & Characteristics

Definition of a Mentor:

Mentors can help people grow by providing guidance on career development or personal growth. They may also provide emotional support and practical advice. We have mentioned the key difference between coaching and mentoring below. A mentor helps someone achieve their goals through sharing knowledge and personal experience.

Example: A business mentor would focus on the outcome of the steps taken. What could be the underlying cause that the individual isn’t concentrating on at work?

The mentor would then seek help and guidance from a counsellor and work on the issue. They would focus on the mentee’s target oriented goal but they would make sure that the process is understood as well.  A business mentor coach takes care of the mishaps by understanding the circumstance and the situation of the mentee, along with the attempt to reach the goal 

Characteristics of a Mentor:

  • Emotional support–A mentor helps the person in distress by providing emotional support, encouragement, and guidance.They could even guide you through your personal issues, leading to frustration.
  • Knowledge sharing–The mentor shares his/her knowledge with the learner so that he or she can learn from it.
  • Role modeling–The mentor provides role models for the learners who will follow them.
  • Socialization–The mentor socializes the learner into a new environment and society.
  • Self development–The mentor develops self-confidence, skills and abilities of the learner.

Coach | Definition & Characteristics

Definition of Coaching:

Coaches guide employees toward achieving specific business objectives and targets. We have mentioned the key difference between coaching and mentoring below. They use various tools such as goal setting, problem solving, conflict resolution, change management. The method of “coaching” differs from the methods of “Counseling” because it focuses primarily on results rather than emotions. It involves working together to create solutions instead of focusing solely on problems.

Example: A career coach will focus on employee engagement, accomplishing tasks that are goal oriented rather than solution driven. The coach would aim on finishing the task and motivating the client or coachee to finish the task instead of spending time on finding out “why is the coachee not completing the task”

The key difference between a coach and a mentor:

A coach has more responsibility than a mentor because an effective coach takes charge of helping others reach their full potential. This means that coaches take an active role in guiding and motivating clients towards success. Unlike mentors who focus mainly on giving feedback, coaches actively work with individuals to develop skills needed to succeed at work.

Characteristics of a Coach:

  • Goal-oriented–Coaching aims at reaching a particular aim.
  • Action oriented–Coaching encourages action steps to move forward.
  • Problem solving–Coaching uses structured methods to solve problems.
  • Solution driven–Coaching emphasizes finding solutions to problems.

Similarities between coaching and mentoring:

  • Empowering–They both help people develop their skills, abilities or confidence.
  • Motivating–Coaches and mentors both motivate people to take action toward achieving goals.
  • Visionary–Coaching and mentoring help individuals envision future possibilities.
  • Inspiring–They inspire others to reach for new heights.

Benefits of a mentoring relationship.

There are many ways that mentoring can benefit us personally and professionally. In order to get the most out of it, we have to make sure we understand our Primary goals.

A mentoring relationship or a mentor would guide the Mentee toward their Goal Success.  

  •  Improving performance through increased self-awareness and motivation
  •  Helping you identify your strengths and weaknesses
  •  Increasing confidence by providing encouragement and constructive criticism
  •  Providing guidance and advice about career choices and opportunities
  •  Developing leadership qualities
  •  Learning how to cope with difficult situations
  •  Being able to decide more easily
  •  Building trust and rapport
  •  Encouraging honesty and open communication
  •  Creating awareness of areas where improvement could occur
  •  Identifying potential problems before they arise
  •  Promoting healthy relationships
  •  Strengthening interpersonal skills
  •  Raising self-esteem
  •  Fostering greater understanding of oneself and other people

Benefits of a coaching relationship.

There are many ways that a Coaching Relationship can benefit us personally and professionally. Benefits to coaching and mentoring in the workplace are recommended and it could be very effective in terms of the outcomes and results of the performance. In order to get the most out of it, we have to make sure we understand our Primary goals.

A Coaching relationship or a coach would guide the Coachee toward their Goal Success. 

  • We understand someone else’s perspective
  • Receive someone’s feedback objectively.
  • Acknowledging the ability to perform in problems as well
  • Motivates the individual to discover their field of interest
  • Reducing frustration is one of the benefits
  • Releases stress , helps control and manage anger and frustration well.
  • Accomplish Finding better results in what would work the best for you without help.
  • Realizing hidden talents.
  • Personal Development
  • Professional Development
  • Career Advancement

A take away from the article:

Differences between coaching and mentoring:

  1. A coaching relationship has unique/unique characteristics from a mentorship one.
  2. Coaches help people achieve personal growth and development, while mentors provide support and guidance.
  3. Mentors encourage independence and autonomy, whereas coaches promote accountability and responsibility.
  4. The benefits of both types of relationships include improved job satisfaction, enhanced professional competence, higher levels of productivity, and reduced turnover rates.
  5. Both mentoring and coaching require time commitment, which could be taken under consideration as ‘disadvantages of coaching and mentoring’, but there are differences in terms of frequency, duration, and
  6. We recommend that an individual looking for a startup or considering a small business owners should hire a business coach. The business coach would then understand the goal of the coaching clients and would motivate and guide them on an accurate career path to further attain their target. A small business could also hire an internet marketing or digital marketing coach and/or mentor to understand how to market their products or services online.
  7. Coaching, Counselling and mentoring have similar aspects. They all provide guidance and their motive is to make sure that their client is content with their progress. However, their approaches may seem to vary.
  8. To understand coaching and mentoring better, it is recommended that the seeker attend a coaching and mentoring workshop to understand what is it that a coach or mentor does. Better yet, are you qualified to be a coach or a mentor? Would you want to be a coach or a mentor? A certified coaching and mentoring professional is preferred over a coach or a mentor without a certification. However, these individuals without a certification (but posses experience or have mastered the field and have the knowledge) can conduct sessions of coaching and mentoring in a social work setup.

What is a?Strategies and motivational techniques used to get the desired goal by pushing the coachee to its full potential.Personal experience used to guide and support the mentee while attempting to reach their desired goal.
Whom should I hire?If you are a fan of ‘ tough love’ and your aim is ‘goal oriented’, that means you are focused on completion of the task vs how it is actually done, instead of ‘solution oriented’, then you should choose a coachIf you require someone who can understand you and is a little more towards the ‘ nurturing side’ attempting to complete your task in a more ‘solution oriented’ approach by understanding the underlying cause, then you should choose a mentor
Approaches used:Goal oriented.Solution oriented.

Example of a Coach

An image with a popular example of a coach / mentor

Master Shifu Source : Blogspot

Master Shifu in Kung Fu Panda Source : The Princeton Buffer

Every coach has a particular training style. However, master Shifu is an outstanding example of an excellent coach. Master Shifu in kung fu panda altered his training style in order to motivate Po the panda to reach his full potential. Master Shifu understood what appeals to the panda, and he did exactly that, dangling the dumplings in front of the panda (using it as a reinforcement) to make sure that the panda stays motivated to complete the task by receiving a positive reinforcement / reward at the end.

Example of a Mentor

Chef Gusteau Source : Basementrejects

The character of the chef “gusteau” acted as a spiritual guide/ mentor. The chef would guide the rat Remy through his journey of understanding and creating food. Throughout this journey we notice the chef guided not only him through the journey as coach (giving him the recipe etc) but he also as a mentor talking to Remy, getting him out of his comfort zone and self pity (at times)

Frequently asked Questions:

Is coaching just therapy by another name?

In recent times, there has been considerable debate over whether coaching should be considered simply as a form of psychotherapy. Whilst this view seems to hold sway amongst those who use the term coaching inappropriately, I believe it is important to distinguish between these two forms of activity. 

In my experience, most coaches do not see themselves as therapists, but they certainly recognise that what they offer can help clients deal with emotional difficulties. In fact, if you look at the definition of coaching from the International Coach Federation, they define coaching as:

“A process where individuals learn new behaviours and attain desired results through dialogue, reflection and action planning.”

How to Overcome Career Development Challenges in Your Workplace?

Career development challenges are common among employees at all levels within organizations. These challenges range from lack of confidence, poor performance, low productivity, and even burnout. In fact, according to Gallup’s 2014 State of Confidence Survey, more than half of U.S. workers report feeling “stressed out about my job situation” and nearly 40 percent say they feel burned out.

When is coaching the best development method?

The evidence suggests that there are many benefits associated with using coaching as part of employee development programmes. However, not every situation requires coaching; rather, it should only be used where appropriate. For instance, when employees are struggling with specific tasks, such as completing complex projects, developing new products or services, managing change or dealing with troublesome people, then coaching could make sense. 

In addition, coaching has been shown to improve job satisfaction, motivation, and productivity.

How to Overcome Career Development Challenges in Your Workplace?

Career development challenges come up at all levels within organisations. They range from lack of clarity about your next step, to feeling stuck in your current position, to being unsure if you’re making progress toward achieving your personal professional goals. If you feel overwhelmed by these issues, here are some tips to get started moving forward again.

Identify where you want to go: What do you really want out of life? Do you know what kind of job you’d love to have someday?

Who delivers coaching in organisations?

The most common way of delivering coaching is via line manager/employee relationships. This may involve one-to-one sessions between individuals or groups of employees. However, many organisations now recognise the value of peer support and encourage staff to coach others. 

In addition, more formal approaches to coaching are becoming popular, including group coaching, virtual coaching, online coaching, e-learning courses and training packages. 

Coaches need to understand the role they play in developing individual and team effectiveness.

What Does a Business Mentor Do?

Mentors help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, provide guidance and offer constructive feedback that will enable you to develop professionally. 

They also encourage you to take risks by providing an opportunity to try out new things. A good business mentor can be a significant source of inspiration and motivation.

How Can I Find a Good Business Mentor?

The best way to find a good business mentor is through word-of-mouth recommendations from people whom they have helped or inspired.

What is a Career Coach?

A career coach can advise and guidance on how to improve your job search strategy, develop skill sets needed by employers, and gain access to opportunities available at work. They can also assist with developing strategies to overcome challenges, such as anxiety around interviews, networking events, and other aspects of employment like increasing communication skills .Career Coaches typically charge hourly rates, however, some offer packages which include ongoing monthly retainer fees.

What is a Career Mentor?

A career mentor helps people develop their careers by advising on how they can improve themselves professionally. They help them understand the skills required for success in any job or industry.Mentors usually work with individuals who want to change something about their life – whether that is improving their relationships, learning new languages, getting into shape, starting up a business or even changing careers.

How to Boost Teamwork With Remote Employees?

  1. Schedule breaks 
  2. Follow icebreaker activities
  3. Instigate a virtual happy hour 

To know more about how to boost team work with remote employees, check out our blog

Can you really formalize a mentorship program?

If you’re considering creating a formal mentorship program at work, there are some things to consider first.First, make sure you understand what kind of program you’re trying to establish: Do you just want to provide guidance on how to get ahead in life? Or do you want to teach them about specific careers?

Second, think about who should take part in this type of program. Will all members of your staff be eligible? If not, then whom would you include?

check out our mentorship program to help you decide:

CHRMP Mentorship Program

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