Mentoring vs Coaching: What Are The Benefits? What Are The Shortcomings? And How To Decide What’s Best?

min read

By Maura Di Mauro – Intercultural & DEI Expert

Coaching and mentoring are both popular methods that promote personal and professional development: They can be used to help people achieving their goals, developing their skills, or reaching their full potential. There is a multitude of possibilities in both methods, as they can be implemented independently or complementarily, within development paths; or in synergy with other training methodologies. However, as both coaching and mentoring are highly person-focused and mostly based on one-to-one relationships, it can be difficult to determine which of the two is the best approach for a certain individual and situation.

This is why coaching and mentoring are sometimes incorrectly used interchangeably, though there are distinct differences between the two. It is important to be aware of these differences before deciding which of the two techniques to use, and when and how to implement them.

To make this process a bit easier for you, I have gathered the most important facts to be aware of. Let’s start by defining the differences between a coach and a mentor, and between coaching and mentoring.

Coaching vs mentoring – the differences

A coach is someone who inspires or provides guidance to a “client”on their goals and helps them to reach or to maximize their personal and professional potential.

A mentor is someone who shares their knowledge, skills, and experience, and who gives advice to help another person to develop and grow professionally, in a specific area of interest.

Coaching involves coach and coachee in an interactive relationship that aims to help individuals or organizations to develop more rapidly or to achieve more satisfying results. This can be achieved by improving the coachees’ abilities to set goals, to take action, to make better decisions and to make full use of their strengths.

Mentoring involves mentor and mentee in a reciprocal and collaborative at-will relationship to support the mentee’s personal growth, learning, or career development. The mentoring relationship occurs most often between a senior mentor and a junior mentee, where the mentor provides support or feedback to the mentee. However nowadays, especially in diversity & inclusion, reverse mentoring is quite common, where the more senior or experienced person benefits from the relationship with a junior or a newer person. For instance, through a reverse mentoring relationship with young people, or people with migrant backgrounds, senior managers can learn how to better manage juniors, or people with diverse ethnic or cultural backgrounds.

The difference between mentoring and coaching

The impact of both coaching and mentoring can be highly valuable. When deciding whether to go for a coaching or a mentorship program, or both, organizations should consider the goal they wish to achieve. If an organization wants to improve performance, culture, knowledge transfer and speed of career development, running a mentorship program can be the best option to reach those goals and objectives. But, if an organization has identified specific skill gaps, coaching can be a better support. In any case, identifying and setting up a tailored framework around the coaching or mentoring experience is crucial to witness its success.

Is mentoring the best approach for your organization? Feel free to get in touch with Volunteer Vision to discover how digital mentoring can support your workforce!

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