What is the difference between coaching and mentoring?

A coach is someone who provides guidance to a client about their goals and helps them reach their full potential.

Sports used to be within the scope of training

. But in the 1980s, coaching began to enter the business world. Thomas Leonard, a financial planner, saw that his clients followed his financial and life advice.

It taught them the frameworks for organizing their lives and, in doing so, it brought training off the court to people's lives. Thomas made the idea of life coaching a respected profession. Rather than being in direct opposition, what you'll find is that mentoring and training are often complementary roles that can sometimes be performed by the same people or by different people. It all depends on how you structure relationships and the desired outcome of those relationships.

Before creating an employee development program or starting to establish an official training relationship, it's important to understand what mentoring and coaching are, how they differ, and when each type of function is valuable. Mentoring is much more complicated than that. It is a relationship focused on development in which the mentor shares specific knowledge, experiences, and skills to help the learner obtain information, achieve development goals, and overcome barriers to their professional and personal development. Often, the mentor is someone who holds a high-level position, but this is not always the case.

Because mentoring focuses specifically on learning from the experience of others and on the transfer of skills and knowledge, structures such as reverse mentoring allow unique mentoring relationships to occur. In her book, Mentoring Programs That Work, talent development specialist and director of diversity at MentorCliQ, Jenn Labin, discusses some additional differences between these two concepts. In the introduction to the book, Labin explains that it's incredibly important to ensure that programs are designed with desired outcomes in mind (and to ensure that those results are met and are measurable). Ultimately, that outcome will influence whether you use a “training” or “mentoring” framework, and the terminology that is ultimately used to describe the nature of the relationships of your development program.

Indeed, you can train without mentoring and you can advise without guidance, but for best results, a company employee development program may need to have both. Once again, whether mentors and coaches are the same people and whether training and mentoring take place simultaneously depends on how your organization's talent development program is structured. Mentoring and coaching are learner-centered training methods. Rather than being polar opposites, coaching and mentoring can be seen as subsets that are included in a larger employee development framework.

That said, there are a few ways to distinguish between the two. In mentoring relationships, mentors rely heavily on their professional or life experiences and make those past experiences a central part of the engagement. In fact, depending on the type of mentoring program and the matching method, mentees may choose or be paired with their mentor specifically because that person has a set of skills or experiences that the mentee wants or needs to learn. Mentors often embody transferable experiences and skills, but they may not have developed a career around teaching others about those experiences or skills.

Don't be surprised if you're trying to launch a mentoring program and are having trouble attracting mentors. Many people who would be excellent mentors for a mentoring program don't realize the positive influence they can exert because they have rarely been recognized for the transferable talent they bring. If you want to find and cultivate mentors, create a culture where your people are actively recognized for the positive and impactful value they bring to your organization. Anyone in your organization can be an effective mentor.

It all depends on the learning relationships that most benefit your organization's objectives. Often, this isn't a discussion of one or the other. Organizations can benefit from both business coaching and business mentoring. In fact, coaching and mentoring are easily combined into the same learning programs, assuming that those learning programs are based from the start around measurable organizational objectives.

That's why organizations like The Clorox Company, Nielsen, and Bacardi have chosen to take advantage of mentoring software like MentorCliq for their mentoring and training programs. By implementing modern mentoring software, organizations like these have found that they can more easily achieve the measurable objectives of their programs, sometimes in dramatic ways. Many learn during the process that coaching programs can be given a new life and an improved structure with the right software, participation reports, and measurement tools. Whether you're creating a mentoring or training program for the first time or expanding existing programs, MentorCliq reduces the strain of starting programs and helps program managers easily win over decision makers with exceptionally direct ROI data for each program.

Connect with MentorCliQ to see how mentoring programs powered by mentoring software and our framework can affect and improve the mentoring and training needs of your employees. Sam Cook is the content strategist at MentorCliQ. As a former high school educator with nearly a decade of classroom experience, he has seen first-hand the transformative impact that comes through mentoring for both mentors and learners. He combines his successful writing career in a second life with his experience as an educator to help demystify mentoring in an organizational environment.

In most cases, coaching focuses on improving a specific skill or helping the coachee achieve certain goals. Mentoring emphasizes more holistic learner development. In other words, coaching is more task-oriented and mentoring is more relationship-oriented. The mentee will likely have a deep sense of gratitude to their coach and all the support they provided.

In a corporate or business environment, a coach is usually a person who has a set of skills or specific training in coaching and uses them to help create “barriers” that guide students (or coaches) toward achieving their goals. As you can see, participating in a coaching or mentoring relationship can improve your professional and personal life in ways that you couldn't achieve on your own. Now that you know the key differences between coaching and mentoring, you might want to know which one is best for you. Mentors and mentees will explore different ambitions, questions, and challenges that may evolve as their relationship progresses.

A presentation skills coach will give Jeremy the specific tools he needs to ease his tension, allow him to concentrate, and apply his natural energy to the presentation. We define coaching as a relationship focused on development with a specially trained coach who provides guidance to the client about their goals and helps them reach their full potential. There is a specific skill or goal that the coach is an expert at or can provide advice to improve the coachee's performance. A coach will be able to identify the specific areas you need to improve your oral or interpersonal skills that lead to a significant difference in your presentation skills.

In this commitment, a coach works with a client on specific objectives and, when those goals have been achieved, the relationship is reevaluated. A coach would be invaluable in helping you change your thinking and giving you more confidence to ask for a raise or make an impactful presentation. .