HR WhatNow: Coaching and Mentoring – Difference and Importance August 16, 2021

Coaching and mentoring both serve the same purpose which is to help others grow and reach their full potential.

Career mentor works with individuals hoping to find career breakthroughs and they act more like a counselors but a coach may not actually have personal experience in the field and may not be able to provide insights in a new career role.

Career coach, however, are more likely to have experience in the industry. Career mentors usually have personal experience in their mentee’s position and can deliver insights into the challenges and opportunities on that path.

Long vs Short term

Mentoring relationships have a higher chance to result in friendships and so last much longer than a coach because once the connection is made there is a tendency to continue the communications and the communication exchanges are usually personal and informal in nature.

Coaching are comparatively more short term than mentoring because they are usually Ojective driven and structured.

Someone may look for a coach to help develop specific skills but the engagement usually ends once the objective is met.

Guidance vs Instructional

The role of a mentor usually involves listen, learn, and advisory. A mentor guides their mentee to the right direction and has a softer, relationship-focused approach, as opposed to a structured schedule that coaching takes.

Different drivers

With coaching, a coachee is largely responsible to drive the sessions and steer the relationship instead of being told what to do. So the results are more centered around how driven and dedicated the mentees are to their own development.

On the other hand, a mentor is more likely to drive the sessions. While the personnel provides input and are accountable for their development, there is lesser role on them to run the sessions.

Non-evaluative vs evaluative

In a mentorship, the progress may not be evaluative, while a coach measures the performance change. For the same reason, a mentors shouldn’t be a supervisor or manager of the mentee while coaches are often externally hired specialists or professionals  that focus on specific skill improvement areas and is accountable for progress.

Holistic development vs specific skill improvement

Coaching is great for people to self derive solutions through powerful questioning from the coach for the purpose to achieve predetermined improvements by drawing tactic  answers that is hard to get elsewhere.

On the other hand, with a mentor provides challenges or defining moments in their personal career and in the process, allowing the mentee to pick out valuable insights for your career.

In summary: When to use what

Mentoring can be considered when:

The organization wants to support career development, knowledge transfer, culture, or personal development

  • During succession planning
  • Promoting workplace culture
  • You want employees to drive the conversation instead of external consultants‍

Coaching can be considered when:

  • The company to sharpen specific skillsets of their employees
  • Their employees needs to become more competent in a certain area (eg, leadership , technology, processes etc)


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