Mentoring vs coaching – what’s the difference?

Though it may seem like these two are very similar, they are not the same. In this article, we want to share our groundwork on the topic of differences and similarities between these two notions.

You probably have already got acquainted with our previous articles “what is mentoring” and “what is coaching” and realize the nature of these terms. If, for some reason, you have not got an opportunity to do it, consider having a quick look now, if you feel the relevance of understanding the difference completely.

Difference 1. Building interrelations

Coaching VS Mentoring

Coaching is aimed at achieving certain goals (for example, an increase in employee management. speech structuring, strategic thinking development, etc.).

In order to achieve these goals, a specialist (“coach”) is required. It’s the one who knows how and can manage such tasks. In other words, it is the first priority to clearly define and successfully accomplish the task (this task can be personal or professional, the most important index here is the accomplishment).

Mentoring, on the other hand, puts human relations in the first place (for example, a “mentee” would want to share his/her life or career obstacles that do not let him/her achieve success).

Without any doubt, one needs to attain certain skills and competencies to build trusting relations. This defines deeper techniques, such as balance/harmony in life/career, self-confidence, self-perception, and unerstanding that one’s personal life affects their professional one.

Difference 2. The duration of the process

Coaching versus Mentoring

The process of coaching can be considered complete after a couple of sessions. Still, taking into account the peculiarities of mentoring, it can last up to a year.

Coaching is aimed at a certain goal and is heading toward its accomplishment.

In order to get the most efficiency from the mentoring session, a certain amount of time is needed. This time is used for mutual acquaintance with the participants and the creation of favorable conditions, where a “mentee” can feel free to share his/her personal and professional problems with his/her mentor.

Difference 3. Efficiency and development

Coaching and Mentoring

The purpose of coaching is the improvement of personal efficiency and development at work. These terms include either enhancement of the existing knowledge or achieving new ones. It requires active listening, effective communication, and a deep understanding of the person’s needs and aspirations. Through the process of coaching, individuals can unlock their full potential and make meaningful progress towards their personal and professional growth. Once the trainee acquires relevant knowledge, the process can be considered complete.Mentoring is directed to continuous development (which can be applied not only to the existing job but to the future one as well). Thus, the mentor’s recommendations and methods of learning bring continuous and universal development essence not attaching to any particular place of self-realization.

Difference 4. The structure of interactions built

This criterion is of the highest importance. That’s why we suggest you take a closer look at its details. There are two notions of object and subject. An object is a category that describes something (occurrence or process) influenced by physical, managing, and cognitive activity (taking into account that the subject itself can act as an object and the role of a subject is played by personality, social group, or society in general). The subject, in its turn, is the carrier of activity, consciousness, and cognition; it’s an individual that percepts the world (as an object) and affects it with their practical activity.

Coaching is aimed at the subject, and all the information the coach gives is directed to the audience. Objective data has taken place and is rated concerning not the subject itself but the professional development of this or that competency in general.

Let’s have a look at the comparison table:

Coaching V Mentoring

The process of coaching does not require a step-by-step approach and can be implemented right away with any possible subject matter (except for corporate sessions, where it is necessary to analyze the fields of competencies of all the participants, their needs, requirements, and ways/methods of achieving them).As for mentoring, it is necessary to have the process structured step-by-step. This way, the participants take time to know each other better and realize the strategic nature of the goals to achieve them.

Difference 5. Supervision (Leadership)

Difference between Coaching and Mentoring

Current supervisors at work assume a dominant presence in the coaching process of the trainee. It happens due to the fact that these supervisors provide feedback on the results of their employees and their missing skills. This information is then used for building the interactions.In mentoring, the supervisor does not participate in the process by influence but can and will provide recommendations to their employee. This approach ensures the independence of mentoring interactions and has a positive impact on the final result.

In the last criterion, we have applied a situational approach where the coach acts as a corporate member of the company (this is a so-called “internal corporate coach” in the firm’s structure).

It’s important to know that, in this case, the coach, the coachee, and the boss are within the same interaction field and mutually impact each other.

To sum up [1]

You need coaching if:

  • Your company is looking for a professional who can help your employees develop relevant competencies with the help of specialized tools in a short period of time;
  • You have talented employees in your company, but their efficiency does not meet your expectations;
  • Your company is implementing a new structure or program;
  • There is a subdivision in your company that requires an increase of certain competencies;
  • The executives of your company have to achieve new knowledge aimed at broadening their fields of responsibilities.

You need mentoring if:

  • Your company must widen the skill fields of both employees and executives;
  • Your company is willing to overcome the obstacles that do not let to meet the expected success;
  • There is a necessity for complex skill development of your employees using the improvement of new skills and knowledge;
  • Your company accepts the idea of preserving the inner professionalism of the employees and sharing it with potential co-workers;
  • The executives of your company would like to keep the balance of work processes taking into account both personal and professional factors.

To sum up [2]

ApproachAimed at the subject (person)Does not consider the factor of subjectivity, defined by the goal
Interaction structureNo clear staging of the processStating a clear staging
Relationship natureMutually optimalStrictly formal (professional)
Influential sourceConsciousnessAuthority
Expectations (results)DevelopmentPerformance
Activity arenaLife experienceCertain goal

Considering everything mentioned above, we can state that mentoring and coaching are not the same. While the mentoring process is performed with time and includes character determination and mutual interest, coaching, on the other hand, requires complete fulfillment of a set task, does not affect the personal traits of the participants, and is considered finished once the goal is achieved.