Mentoring vs Coaching: Which is Best for You?
The terms mentoring and coaching are very often used interchangeably. Because of such an approach, the responsibilities of these specialists are mixed and misunderstood in the business context. In spite of all the various right and wrong opinions, there is a great difference between mentoring vs coaching. In this article, I am going to highlight this difference and clearly introduce the point in detail. After all, it will become easier for you to identify your responsibilities and make a decision.
What is Mentoring and Who is a Mentor?
Mentoring is a kind of informal association between people, focused on developing a two-way mutually beneficial relationship for a long-term career movement.
A mentor is somebody who shares knowledge, experience, and skills with those who are less experienced in the field. Thanks to their knowledge experience mentors are more likely to guide the mentees rather than teach them specific topics or theoretical knowledge.
Mentors provide advice and support to mentees while considering opportunities for career growth, gaining confidence, or improve interpersonal skills. This guidance is based on the mentor’s personal experiences and learnings, which makes them more trustworthy and authoritative in the eyes of the mentees.
What is Coaching and Who is a Coach?
According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF), coaching is defined as “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.”
As for me, I define coaching as a development-focused relationship with a coach who has been specially and professionally trained and who provides guidance to people on their goals, helping them reach their full potential. Typically a coach provides coaching as their full-time job. Usually, they are trained by an organization such as the International Coach Federation.
Now let’s take the points from the business perspective.
What does a Business Mentor Do?
The business mentors offer support to people related to career growth or interpersonal skill development. Specifically, a mentor helps mentees explore their career options, set development goals, develop new contacts, and identify resources. In this way, a mentor serves as a professional advisor and role model for the mentees.
The role of the mentor is flexible, depending on the changing requirements and needs of the mentees over time. As I have already mentioned above, mentoring relationships are usually informal, but sometimes more formal relationships are also possible. When keeping a formal mentoring relationship, mentors follow a structured approach to set realistic expectations and achieve mutual benefits.
It is said that good mentors are willing to share the best of their skills and knowledge with the mentees. They are more caring as they have previously faced the same challenges and feel more empathetic towards the mentees’ needs. On the other hand, mentors share a positive and motivational attitude, to inspire, encourage, and build trust among the mentees. These qualities make it easier for the latest to speak about their professional goals as well as share concerns.
From a business perspective, mentors help employees gain more confidence in their work and develop skills that will help to add value. Confident and satisfied employees prompt the organizations forward. This is the answer to the question of why currently, a number of businesses are shifting their focus on identifying the right mentoring programs.
What does a Business Coach Do?
A business coach puts emphasis on chosen skills and focuses on developing goals dividing them into concrete tasks that are completed within a specified period of time. In this way, business coaches help and guide businesses to clarify their growth vision. Many businesses deal with goal identification and prioritization as a big challenge. Business coaches address this challenge by helping businesses prioritize their goals according to their importance. They follow a more formal, structured approach to resolve issues and manage specific aspects of the job.
The main focus of a good business coach is on identifying goals, classifying, and prioritizing them then choosing the right and the best possible path to achieve these goals. In this way, business coaches help business organizations to become more accountable, goal-driven, and competitive in the market.
One of the most essential roles of business coaches is to cover various aspects of running a successful business. These may include sales targets, marketing strategies, communication skills, team building, leadership, and even more. When choosing the path to become a business coach, a good specialist should have all successfully passed through all the stages and have a rich experience in the target niche.
Coaches largely assess businesses to recognize their key features, strengths as well as growth challenges. Based on the evaluation, they help to design a plan or form a strategy, set targets, and define the steps required to achieve the desired results.
A smart business coach acts as a critic, challenges the status quo, questions business decisions, and prompts organizations to take a closer look at their approach. This way, they bring in a fresh point of view to the business strategy and goals, having a general opinion about the possible outcomes. But rather than simply questioning how things are run at a business, a coach tries to highlight the hidden points and guide the business on adopting an appropriate growth strategy.
For businesses, a coach helps succeed by guiding them in the right direction. Often businesses lose sight of where they want to be and the steps they need to follow to achieve success, a business coach provides clarity. They share pieces of useful advice and opinions to get businesses back on track.
Mentoring vs Coaching: The Differences Between These Two
It should already be clear that a business mentor differs from a business coach. To sum up the difference between a mentor and a coach, I have chosen some specific points of differentiation that make the points easier to understand. Here we are:
- Mentoring is possible on a long-term basis depending on mutual trust and respect. Coaching, on the other hand, is for a short period of time.
- Mentoring is more focused on creating an informal connection between the two sides, while coaching follows a more structured and formal approach.
- The business mentor has previous personal experience of the mentee’s aspect of work. A business coach, however, does not need to have an own experience of the kind of work the coachee is engaged in.
- The primary priority of a business mentor is to support the development of skills that are not just relevant for the mentees in their present job, but also for the future. On the other hand for a business coach, the biggest priority is to improve performance that has a positive influence on the current job.
Both mentors and coaches benefit businesses in several ways. To benefit the most, businesses need to be clear on what their priorities are and what kind of support they are looking for. With the right support, small businesses can become more productive, profitable, and competitive.
Now when you are familiar with the main and sometimes hidden or confusing differences between mentor and coach, you may choose the right way to start your career path, helping people and businesses achieve their goals. In some fields, you may be both a mentor and a coach, in other cases, it is not possible. So, consider the point carefully and make your right decision.
Also, take into consideration that these days, many people look for coaching or mentoring services in the online sphere. Accordingly, many education providers get a significant amount of revenue, regardless of the industry they are engaged in. So, do not be late, go digital, reach a wider market, and help more mentees or coachees to get their right path to success. Good luck!
If you are interested in starting online mentoring or coaching, you may schedule a free demo and get familiar with the features Uteach offers. It may be helpful and inspirational for you.