Coaching versus Mentoring

2 men are sitting in front of a laptop and are talking.
2 men are sitting in front of a laptop and are talking.
Coaching versus Mentoring

The International Coaching Federation defines coaching, “Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

The Association for Talent Development defines mentoring, “Mentoring is a reciprocal and collaborative at-will relationship that most often occurs between a senior and junior employee for the purpose of the mentee’s growth, learning, and career development.”

Coaching Mentoring
Coach is a Process Expert Mentor is the Subject Matter Expert
Coach is a strategic partner. Mentor is a role model.
Coach asks questions. Mentor gives advice.
Coach elicits the wisdom of the client. Mentor passes on their wisdom.
Coach ensures the client makes their own decisions. Mentor makes recommendations.

Both coaching and mentoring serve a purpose and provide value.  Often professionals have both a mentor and a coach either in progression or simultaneously.

A natural progression for professional development is moving from a degree into a role, earning certifications, working with a mentor, possibly engaging with consultants, and then working with a coach.  Coaching is an advanced form of development and supports results at an advanced level.  The research is clear and the average return on investment for a coach is 600% according to Fortune.

Consider what happens in a mentoring conversation as compared to a coaching conversation.

Mentoring Conversation: The mentor often sets the focus of the conversation or leads the conversation.  A mentor will give their opinion and offer advice.
·      Mentor: I heard you are doing well with your project.
o   Mentee: Yes, thank you.
·      Mentor: I also understand that scheduling the completion of the various components with different people is a challenge.
o   Mentee: Yes, it is.
·      Mentor: To manage that you can use the calendar system so everyone can see it.  It is also often helpful to have a meeting with everyone and explain interdependencies and get commitments to deadlines.
o   Mentee: Those are good ideas.
·      Mentor: If you want, I can chat with a few key people to have them support you in prodding people along.
o   Mentee: That would be amazing.
·      Mentor: What else can I do to help?
o   Mentee: I think that is all for now.  Well, maybe recommend a book for me on leading a team?
·      Mentor: Actually, I have a few in my office – you are welcome to borrow them.
o   Mentee: Thanks!

Coaching Conversation: The client sets the focus for the conversation and creates the agenda.  The coach asks questions, so the client thinks, explores, and makes their own choices.

·      Coach: What do you want to focus on in this conversation?
o   Client: I want some ideas for handling scheduling and follow-through with people working on different parts of a project.
·      Coach: What do you want to talk through to accomplish that?
o   Client: Well, calendaring is one thing.  And to do that will probably take a meeting.
·      Coach: Where do you want to start?
o   Client: Planning the meeting.
·      Coach: What are your steps for planning the meeting?
o   Client: First is to pick a date and time and doing that will mean looking at everyone’s availability in the calendar system.  Then I will add it to the calendar.
·      Coach: Excellent.  What is next?
o   Client: The meeting agenda.  I want to have a list of the various parts in order of required completion so the next thing on the list can happen.  I want to have a rough timeline for everything.  Then I can share those and ask them for questions or comments.  Then I will ask everyone to finalize their work time and completion time.  Finally, we will make sure it goes into the calendar.
·      Coach: Great work figuring that out.  Seems you both planned the meeting and addressed scheduling too.  What else do you want to cover?
o   Client: I think their accountability.
·      Coach: What are your ideas for the accountability?
o   Client: Well, their participation in finalizing the schedule is a start.  I can ask them if they understand the implications if we don’t meet the deadline.  I can let them know I will help if they want that or find them help.  In the end I think I have to ask them how they want to manage the accountability.
·      Coach: Seems you have great ideas – how does your plan feel to you?
o   Client: This feels great – thanks so much!

When someone really doesn’t know, a mentor is valuable because they can teach and guide.  When someone can figure it out a coach is valuable because it develops their thinking and strategizing abilities plus supports their ownership of the plan.

You may also like...