Why Mentoring or Coaching?
Sometimes people use the words “mentoring” and “coaching” interchangeably, but
they do not describe the same type of working relationship. Both share specific
goals including employee learning and career development that leads to peak
performance, and the realization of full potential. However, the definition,
focus, role, approach, and tools of each are different.
You want to develop your
employees and help them reach their full potential. So, should you offer them
coaching or mentoring? Before you can answer that question, you need to
understand the difference between the two.
Definition and Focus
Mentoring: An informal association
focused on building a two-way, mutually beneficial relationship for long-term
career movement. In a true mentoring relationship, a mentee and mentor work
with one another over the course of Months sometimes nine to 12 months. The
mentor's focus is on the overall development of his or her mentee. In this
scenario, mentoring is transformational—for both the mentor and especially the
mentee—because it is a long-term relationship that involves both the professional
and the personal. In many ways, mentoring is like counseling.
Coaching: The International
Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as "a
partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that
inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The
process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination,
productivity, and leadership." Coaching, on the other hand, involves a
content expert working closely with an individual so that this individual
learns a particular skill or piece of knowledge. In other words, coaching is
about skills and knowledge acquisition. Although coaching may involve the
personal, the primary focus is professional. In many ways, coaching is akin to
Mentoring: Talking with a person who has identified their needs prior to entering into a mentoring
relationship. The emphasis is on active
listening, providing information, making suggestions, and establishing
Coaching: Listening to a person, identifying what
they need, and helping them develop
an action plan. The emphasis is on the person or client finding the solution,
not instructing or leading them.
Mentoring: This is a self-directed (modus operando) whereby
participants have choices. This approach can begin with a self-matching process
and continue throughout the relationship using a committed timeline to
determine how often and where individuals will meet, identify goals, and so
Coaching: Some structured (modus operandi) is more frequently used
whereby participants are working within a narrower perspective; their agenda is
more specific, for a short period of time, and oriented toward certain results.
Usually, a coach is assigned to an employee within an organization.
Mentoring: The most important tool is the Mentoring
Agreement—developed, completed, and signed by both participants. This document
formalizes commitment to the mentoring relationship. Items include individual
goals, learning content, a meeting schedule, and communication methods.
Coaching: A coaching agreement is used to set the ground rules for
the partnership. Within organizations, 360 assessments sometimes precede the
coaching sessions. Skills assessments are sometimes used depending on the
nature of the coaching program.
Coaching is task-oriented. Mentoring is relationship-oriented.
Coaching is short-term. Mentoring is always long-term.
Coaching is performance-driven. Mentoring is development-driven.
The mission is to meet both individual and organizational goals.
An organization is not required to choose between mentoring and coaching
relationships. Each one enhances an individual’s ability to contribute to the
organization’s goals. Consider how these two activities can fulfill the
expectations of individuals, managers, and senior-level executives, while
simultaneously accomplishing the organization’s employee development and
succession planning goals. Additionally, consideration for the level of the
value that these programs bring to the table and the benefits people feel will
Do Your Employees Need Coaching or Mentoring?
Choosing mentoring or coaching
Here's an important point that many organizations miss: it
doesn't necessarily need to be an either/or scenario. Your employees could likely
benefit from a long-term mentoring relationship and short-term skill-building in specific areas.
But if you feel you need to decide between one or the other (for
budgetary reasons, for example), here are guidelines to help you make the best
Consider coaching when:
You are seeking to develop your
employees in specific competencies using performance management tools and
involving the immediate manager
You have a number of talented
employees who are not meeting expectations
You're introducing a new system
or program and employees need to become proficient
You have a small group of
individuals (five to eight) in need of increased competency in specific areas
You have a leader or executive
within your organization who needs assistance in acquiring a new skill as an
Consider mentoring when:
You are seeking to develop your
leaders or talent pool as part of succession planning
Your organization want to more
completely develop your employees in ways that go above and beyond the
acquisition of specific skills/competencies
You need to develop your diverse
employees and remove barriers that might hinder their success
Your organization hope to retain
the internal expertise and experience residing in your company's Baby Boomer
employees and nurture Gen X and Gen Y employees in the process
Your organization wants to create
a workforce that balances the professional and the personal.
Remember, coaching and mentoring
are both effective approaches to talent development within an organization. A
company’s specific needs should provide guidance on which option to choose.
Making the right decision for the right reasons will help lead to more positive
outcomes. NICE Tanzania we are dedicated to offering mentoring and coaching
skills and supporting the Mentoring and Coaching in the various strategic and
management need of your organization. Contact us we will offer free need
assessment and demand screening to offer you the best customized coaching and
mentoring knowledge and structure.