Monday, April 25, 2016

Coaching and Mentoring - What's the Difference?

Over the last few weeks, I have been reading about coaching and mentoring. The trigger for all this activity was #lrnchat on 07 April where the topic of discussion was coaching and mentoring. 

I always enjoy #lrnchat but this particular one was a great opportunity to understand different perspectives about coaching and mentoring and how folks in Learning and Development and HR across corporate, government, and non 
profit sectors interpret and utilize these techniques. Here are some thoughts from the #lrnchat community on the differences between coaching and mentoring: 

Coaching and mentoring are valuable to both the individual and the organization. These techniques can be used to enhance and improve personal and professional knowledge, skills, and performance. They are similar in some ways. But how are they different?

Based on some reading and reflection on the topic and after a few discussions with friends and colleagues, here's my take on the differences between coaching and mentoring. 
While the focus and expected result from these techniques is different, overlaps do exist and organizations may use a blend of coaching and mentoring to meet specific outcomes.  

How have you seen coaching and mentoring work differently? 


  1. Thanks for raising an important issue Taruna - I have really different views! Which is why although the Turning Learning into Action methodology we use has coaching at the core we don't use the word coaching as it is so misunderstood. I think it's important to consider what you are trying to achieve - does the person / coachee / mentee need advise and information or behavioural change. Coaching can be very developmental and help greatly with both career, development, growth and behavioural change. The less instruction the coach gives the higher the level of change and ownership, which means it is sustained. Organisational coaching isn't to be confused with sports coaching - which is where some of the notions of the coach needing to be an expert in the field they are coaching comes in. In my experience the less the coach knows about a particular field the better they can coach. A mentor will offer advice and guide, a true coach won't.

  2. Thanks for your comment Emma and I respect your views.

    Like you rightly said, many of these terms including coaching and mentoring are understood in different ways across various industries. And adding to that mix is the term, 'Executive Coaching', which to me is somewhere between mentoring and coaching!

    In my experience, I have found that sometimes coaches turn into mentors and some mentors assume the role of a coach, as required.

    Needless to say, one technique is not better than the other. We need both coaching and mentoring to discover our true potential.