November 16, 2021

What are the Differences Between Coaching and Mentorship?

What are the differences between coaching and mentorship? Great question! Let's find out!

coaching and mentoring illustration

What are the Differences Between Coaching and Mentorship?

Most employers know about The Big Quit — a millennial-inspired job resignation movement spurred by economic shifts and COVID-19. Because of these global changes, young professionals are increasingly finding meaning outside of their careers, causing uncertainty in the job market as more workers start their own in-home businesses or find part-time employment. With much at stake, what can traditional employers — and employees — do to engage in an employment scenario that keeps both parties happy?

The answer might lie in one of two practices: mentorship and coaching. Coaching and mentorship are great tools for reducing employee turnover rates, inspiring commitment to a larger organization and developing personal and professional skills. 

While both practices are valid ways to engage employees, there are distinct differences between coaching and mentorship. Keep reading to learn what makes these two practices different and to learn which one might be best for your organization or career path. 

1. What is coaching?

While there are many definitions, coaching generally refers to the process of assisting individuals in achieving explicit goals for greater results in their personal and professional lives. The main dynamic of a coaching relationship involves the coach and the coach-ee setting goals and using different methods to act upon those goals. 

There are multiple ways to achieve the goals outlined by a coaching relationship. Some coaching platforms use in-person training exercises, others use written exchanges, and still others employ thought management techniques. The common denominator is that all of these methods are designed to tackle previously decided upon goals. 

2. What is mentorship?

Similar to coaching, mentorship involves a relationship between a trainer and a trainee. Mentors are individuals whom mentees can look up to and whose behavior they can model in order to achieve greater success. The basis of a mentorship involves a close relationship, a secure mentoring environment and a deep connection between both individuals that creates a foundation of trust and understanding.

While mentorship does involve a degree of planning and strategizing, a mentor-mentee relationship is less goal-oriented than coaching and is often less rigidly structured. Mentorship programs also usually occur within an organization — often between company higher-ups and junior employees. As such, mentors often lead by example rather than explicit instruction, bringing mentees to internal company meetings, presentations and social events to observe their behavior. 

coaching is key


3. What are some key differences?

While coaching and mentorship overlap, there are key differences between the two. To begin, whereas coaching is goal-oriented and thought-oriented, mentorship is relationship-oriented and connection-oriented. This doesn’t mean that coaches don’t form strong relationships with coach-ees, and it also doesn’t mean that mentorships are void of goals — there is simply a difference between the focus of each discipline, and what both parties wish to gain from their interactions. 

Additionally, whereas mentorships can happen over months or even years, coaching usually spans a smaller period of time. This is because coaching relies on concise, high-impact training to help coach-ees quickly achieve specific results. By contrast, mentors help to slowly shape, inspire and challenge their mentees until they are ready to take on a larger role within their organization.  

3. Who is a candidate for coaching?

Great coaching candidates are those looking for fast growth and development in their careers and personal lives. People who benefit the most from coaching usually have a strong foothold in their careers and know some elements of a high-achievement lifestyle — rather than being trained from the ground up, coaching helps them make fast, radical changes that unlock their goals. Great coach-ees usually already know what they want out of a coaching relationship and can clearly outline what a successful coaching exchange looks like to them. 

A standard coaching process might look like the following: a 10-week, 10-call, 70-day interactive journaling process with a certified coach that rapidly addresses coach-ee goals through constant communication. Because the process is not as long as a mentorship, frequency of contact during the coaching period is key. 

5. Who is a candidate for mentorship?

A great mentorship candidate is someone looking for a strong model to observe and emulate. Those who get the most out of mentorship are usually earlier in their careers, with a strong skill base but also with room to learn and grow. Junior level employees or mid-level managers looking at executive positions often make great mentees. 

A standard mentorship might involve an initial strategizing and planning period before the process begins. Once a mentor and mentee have been paired, the two will likely meet frequently and informally over a period of months or years to assess progress, look for growth opportunities and more. Because the process is usually longer, mentorship programs do not always offer the same level of frequent contact as coaching relationships. However, the extended nature of the relationship means mentorships often develop into long-term network connections and friendships. 

6. How to choose the perfect resource

You might be wondering: which coaching and mentorship resources should I look to invest in as an employer — or an employee? Fortunately, there are a multitude of options available to you. 

When it comes to coaching programs, Frame Of Mind Coaching™ offers a high-impact, intimate coaching experience designed to help coach-ees move rapidly. Leaders and high-achievers who appreciate speed and results will benefit greatly from everyday contact with coaches steeped in years of professional experience. Over ten weeks, you and your coach will become committed partners in helping you set, work toward and achieve your goals.  

As far as mentorship programs go, many companies benefit most from creating their own in-house mentor-mentee relationships. This is because mentorship opportunities tend to work best when both members of the relationship are part of the same internal organization and can attend the same meetings and functions over an extended period of time. If your organization doesn’t already have an existing mentorship program in place, working with HR managers and executive decisionmakers to create one is worth the time and money spent developing it. 

Whichever experience you choose to invest in, both coaching and mentorship programs can help you and your organization grow, change and achieve exciting new results.  

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