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What Is the Difference between Coaching and Mentoring?

There is often confusion between these two functions, because the one of the functions of a good mentor is to coach a mentee.

Although mentors utilize coaching skills to serve the mentee, mentoring involves additional tasks, which can include:

  • Being a role model—literally displaying the specific actions and behaviors that are role specific
  • Consulting—sharing information about the industry, company or business unit that mentor believes is relevant to mentee
  • Brokering—making introductions to powerful, influential, and otherwise useful individuals in the industry or organization
  • Advocating—for mentee’s work assignments or career development to support the mentee's growth and development.

Good mentors use a coaching process and coaching skills to help mentees:

  • Be clear about big picture career goals
  • Identify and develop leadership qualities
  • Develop sound structures and accountability to accomplish the important long-term development goals (vs. the urgent performance ones)
  • Understand their own value and needs
  • Leverage their best qualities and talents

The value of training mentors in the use of a coaching process, and in coaching skills (refined communication skills combined with an intense service orientation) cannot be underestimated.

The key benefits to organizations of training mentors and administering mentoring programs are:

  • Increased communication of corporate values
  • Decreased learning curves for informal systems
    (the way things are really done around here)
  • Greater sense of belonging right away (for new employees)

These key benefits have been shown to bottom line benefits such as:

  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Increased innovation and loyalty
  • Improved sense of team spirit
  • Increased productivity