Mentoring, Coaching - The Difference and Why You Need Both

Mentoring and coaching are two words that can often be used interchangeably within the workplace. However, these two do not mean the same thing. The reality is that there is a difference between the two, and each is beneficial in their own ways.

While they both do involve an authoritative figure that guides another person to be successful within the workplace, a mentor uses their own experiences to help whereas a professional coach encourages leaders to come to conclusions based on their thoughts and actions. Great leaders are able to be coached and then use that experience to be mentors to those around them.

Mentors and coaches both possess the ability to guide and develop leaders within the workplace. The end goal for both mentors and coaches is to inspire professional and personal growth. The main difference between the two is how that is accomplished. 

There’s a fine line between coaching and mentoring. While many people use the terms interchangeably, the two roles are different, albeit with a lot of overlap. Let’s break the two down.

What Is Mentoring?

A mentor is someone who is experienced in a specific field or technique. Within the workplace a mentor is typically in a leadership position or an advisory role to their mentee. Mentorship takes a holistic approach, as they will use their experiences to help guide their mentee.

The relationship formed between the two is more relational rather than a performance based guide. Mentorship is especially important for companies in assisting the next leaders to take over current positions of management. Mentors help cultivate leadership for generations to come. Overall, mentors encourage the mentee in all aspects of their life while continually pursuing and supporting them in all that they do. 

Note: A mentor is not always a working advisor. A mentor can be a close confidant, industry leader, personal connection, or an outside referral from a working advisor.

What Is Coaching?

In this context, a coach is a professional individual that specializes in helping others come to conclusions by working through their thoughts and actions. Through this approach, leaders are able to think for themselves.

Oftentimes, leaders will get told what they could do better or how they could go about a situation. When they are told, there is no room for them to think on their own. Most times they will agree with the suggestion and try to do better the next time around. By bringing in a professional coach who specializes in leadership development, leaders will begin to create action plans of how to handle different business situations before the arise. Coaches hold leaders accountable while allowing space for them to think for themselves. This creates trust, initiative, and dedication from the individual.

The Outcome

The outcome from a coaching engagement is specific and measurable, showing signs of improvement or positive change in the desired performance area.

Alternatively, the outcome of a mentoring relationship can shift and change over time, as the mentee continues their overall development as an entrepreneur.

When To Hire A Mentor

  • If you’re just starting out
  • If you’re trying to scale
  • If you need a sounding board

When To Hire A Coach

  • If you need to acquire a specific skill
  • If you don’t know what you don’t know
  • If you need help with accountability

Why Both Are Needed

Mentorship and coaching both provide support to others in its own unique way. And while they are different types of guidance, both are needed within the business place. Both play a vital role in the development of individuals, and can be paired together.

Remember: one can receive mentorship while also seeking out professional coaching. 

At Converge, we specialize in professional coaching along with training and development workshops for your workplace leaders. By partnering with Coverage you will develop both personally as well as professionally! We want your organization to become something greater and accelerate forward. Reach out to us today to see how we can come alongside you to accelerate your growth!