Coaching and Mentoring are development techniques based on the use of one-to-one discussions to enhance an individual’s skills, knowledge or work
There are distinctions between coaching and mentoring although in practice the two terms are often used interchangeably.
What is coaching?
Coaching targets high performance and improvement at work and usually focuses on specific skills and goals, although it may also have an impact on an individual’s personal attributes (such as social interaction or confidence). The process typically lasts for a relatively short period.
Characteristics of coaching in organisations:
What is mentoring?
Mentoring involves the use of the same models and skills of questioning, listening, clarifying and reframing associated with coaching.
Traditionally, however, mentoring in the workplace has tended to describe a relationship in which a more experienced colleague uses his or her greater knowledge and understanding of the work or workplace to support the development of a more junior or inexperienced member of staff.
One key distinction is that mentoring relationships tend to be longer term than coaching arrangements.
In a succession planning scenario, for example, a sales director might be mentored by a group level counterpart over a lengthy period to develop a sound understanding of dealing with the boardroom, presenting to analysts and challenging departmental budgets, all in a supportive environment.
Mentoring relationships work best when they move beyond the directive approach of a senior colleague ‘telling it how it is’, to one where both learn from each other.
An effective mentoring relationship is a learning opportunity for both parties. This is particularly productive when there is a gender or ethnic dimension to the relationship, for example where a senior female or ethnic minority leader mentors a more junior colleague from a similar background.