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The difference between coaching and mentoring

coaching and mentoringWithin a work place, there are different levels of support an employee can request when they are either new to the job, changing roles or furthering their career. Coaching and mentoring are two examples of this, however both offer very different outcomes. Sometimes these terms can be used incorrectly but you only have to look in the Collins Dictionary to see that the definition of coaching involves language such as training, whereas mentoring is defined with words such as caring.


When someone in a more senior position within a company is chosen to give guidance and support to a less experienced colleague, this is defined as mentoring. This relationship is normally a more long-term one and is focussed on allowing the less experienced employee to โ€˜growโ€™ within their role. In this role, a mentor is expected to share their knowledge and expertise with their mentee. This can take place in both formal and informal encounters, but the outcome is to further the mentee’s understanding within their working environment. When someone takes on the role of a mentor they are able to use their experiences as examples and guidance; by sharing these with their mentee it allows them to gain a greater understanding of their workplace and the wider issues involved. Mentees are able to gain from their more knowledgeable peers and develop their own experiences as time goes on.


Coaching can take place within a workplace or a person can seek coaching outside of the working environment. One difference between these two roles is that coaching usually has a focus. The person who is being coached will have a specific area of development, either within their role at work or personally, which the coach then helps them to achieve, through guidance and specific methods. A coach can be someone from within the workplace but generally doesnโ€™t have to have experience of working in the same field, as the areas of focus are more specific to the person rather than to a role or area within a company. This type of support is usually conducted on a formal basis, with meetings scheduled and a discrete finishing time. This is so that the goal that has been selected has a discrete time frame in which it should be achieved.

What can be achieved by each

Whilst the two roles of coaching and mentoring differ, they both offer a person similar outcomes. At the end of either of these examples, the person who is being coached or mentored will have made progress within their lives or their workplace. It allows a person to have a sounding board for what they want to achieve, and someone who will help them see it through. Both of these activities have a very important role to play in allowing people to grow and gain new competencies.ย ย  Whether someone is looking to overcome a specific challenge at work, or grow personally within their working environment, the support that these roles can give is crucial in facilitating this.

Find out about Illumine’s High Performance Coaching course here

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