Over the weekend I was in my garden, spending some much needed time weeding. It…
- Berni Hollinger
- Employee Relations
- Human Resources
Coaching Versus Mentoring
- Berni Hollinger
- 26 January 2016
Recently, I was asked to do some training for a group of first-time supervisors. The company wanted to focus on the skills and processes necessary for the supervisors to coach their staff. The organization was enjoying a growth spurt and many of the staff were also new to the organization. As such, some were making goals, some were not and morale was beginning to drop. (See “Keeping Motivation High During a Project”)
In researching, I was surprised to see that the HR community considered coaching different than mentoring. Not being a wordsmith like my sister, I tended to use the words interchangeably.
For me – whether coaching or mentoring – I was improving the skills and abilities of whomever I was talking with. That’s true and yet there are subtle differences which should not be ignored.
Let’s start with basic definitions. The Cambridge Dictionary defines the role of coaching and mentoring as follows:
A coach is an expert who trains someone learning or improving a skill, esp. one related to performing.
A mentor is an experienced and trusted person who gives another person advice and help, esp. related to work or school, over a period of time
Hmmm…. they sound similar. Both are experts in their field (Remember, that an expert is someone who knows more than you. We’re all know more than someone else, hence we’re all experts at something.) Both seem to be imparting knowledge to someone.
Maybe they aren’t different. Maybe it’s a way of teaching.
I did a bit more research on basic definitions and found the Wikipedia addressed both coaching and mentoring in their definition of coaching:
Coaching is training or development in which a person called a coach supports a learner in achieving a specific personal or professional goal. Occasionally, coaching may mean an informal relationship between two people, of whom one has more experience and expertise than the other and offers advice and guidance as the latter learns; but coaching differs from mentoring in focusing on specific tasks or objectives, as opposed to general goals or overall development.
OK, that made sense. Wikipedia explained the difference in the scope and focus of the individual and ultimately in the final results sought.
Coaching is focused on the performance of an individual and achieving set goals and skills, while mentoring is more about the overall development of someone who wants to achieve specific goals in their life.
Coaching is typically on of the tools employed when an employee is not meeting basic expectations. Mentoring is one of the tools used by an employee when they want to move ahead in their career path.
Coaching is part of being a supervisor or manager. It comes with the job. As a mentor, it’s a choice.
Coaching tends to be short term. Once the performance is improved or the goal met, the coaching relationship will end. The mentoring relationship will continue as long as both parties are interested and learn something.
In coaching, the emphasis is on instruction, assessing and monitoring. With a mentorship, the emphasis is on active listening, providing information, making suggestions and establishing connections.
In my career, I’ve both coached and mentored my staff. Being a successful leader requires us to coach others when necessary. Being a successful leader, we desire to mentor those with potential so they are as successful as ourselves.
“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” Steven Spielberg
Berni Hollinger helps companies solve problems through patterns. As a Professional Quilter and CFO / Controller, she sees things differently. As a highly experienced CFO, Controller, Accountant, and Financial Consultant, she has led financial departments for Fortune 100 companies increasing bottom line growth and compassionately leading and training employees and restructuring processes to maximize profitability in the publishing, printing, subscriptions / fulfillment, manufacturing and transportation sectors. She is a Professional Quilter, and Quilting Instructor, creating lasting memories through exclusive designs of one-of-a-kind memory quilts.
See additional blogs:
- Keeping Motivation and Enthusiasm High During a Project
- Mentoring, Coaching, Sponsorship: Is There a Difference?
I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors and coaches who helped make me a better…
- Leader Versus Manager
In the late 80’s, businesses began adapting the term leadership to replace the more antiquated…