The Difference Between Mentoring and Coaching Explained

Mentoring and coaching are two student-centered training methods that can be used to help employees reach their full potential. While they are often used interchangeably, there are subtle differences between the two. Coaching is more performance-based and is designed to improve the professional's performance at work. The training agenda is created jointly by the coach and the coach to meet the specific needs of the coach.

The outcome of a coaching agreement is specific and measurable, and shows signs of improvement or positive change in the desired area of performance. On the other hand, mentoring is a relationship focused on development in which the mentor shares specific knowledge, experiences, and skills to help the learner obtain ideas, achieve development goals, and overcome barriers to their professional and personal development. Mentors often incorporate transferable experiences and skills, but they may not have developed a career around teaching others those experiences or skills. Coaches, on the other hand, are more likely to have a career in teaching or training.

Additionally, mentoring relationships tend to be longer-term than coaching relationships, with a focus on developing skills over time rather than achieving a specific outcome. Organizations can benefit from both business coaching and business mentoring. In fact, coaching and mentoring are easily combined in the same learning programs, assuming that those learning programs are built from the start around measurable organizational objectives. By implementing modern mentoring software, organizations can more easily achieve the measurable objectives of their programs, sometimes dramatically. When creating an employee development program or starting to establish an official training relationship, it is important to understand what mentoring and coaching are, how they are different and in what aspects each type of function is valuable. Ultimately, that outcome will influence whether a “training” or “mentoring” framework is used, and what terminology is ultimately used to describe the nature of the relationships between your development program. Anyone in your organization can be an effective mentor or coach.

It all depends on how you structure relationships and the desired outcome of those relationships. Keep your mind open to possibilities when you have been trained and mentored, then you can give back by training or mentoring others. Take what you've learned and share it with those who can benefit from your knowledge and experience. Rather than being in direct opposition, what you'll discover is that mentoring and coaching are often complementary functions that can sometimes be performed by the same people or by different people. It all depends on how your organization's talent development program is structured. Connect with MentorCliq to see how mentoring programs powered by mentoring software and our framework can impact and improve the mentoring and training needs of your employees.

Sam Cook is the SEO manager at MentorCliq who has seen first-hand the transformative impact that comes from mentoring for both mentors and learners.