Difference between coaching and mentoring

by Business Training, Personal Development

One of the most frequent questions that people ask me during our first coaching encounter is, “What is the difference between coaching and mentoring?” In truth,  there are many skills required in both that are similar, and both are used as professional and business development tools. However, the two differ in their structure and outcome.

The main difference between coaching and mentoring is that the coaching process asks you great questions and the answers you provide guide you forward while in mentoring, you ask the questions and the mentor gives you the answers based on their vast experience in a specific field or industry. In other words, coaching requires you to look inwards for enlightenment while mentoring requires you to look outwards for wisdom. The main difference can be summarized as:

“Mentoring gives you amazing answers to your questions while coaching provides you amazing questions for your answers.”

Who is a Business Coach?

A business coach focuses on their clients’ development goals and specific skills by breaking them down into concrete steps to be completed within a specific amount of time. By so doing, the business coaches and guide and help businesses owners and their employees to clarify and focus on their growth vision.

For a majority of businesses, prioritizing or even identifying their main goals is a huge challenge. That’s where business coaches come in. They deal with this challenge by helping businesses to highlight their goals based on their importance. They use a structured or formal approach to manage specific aspects of the business and resolve issues that the businesses are struggling with.

Whether you are in the starting phase of your business and needs help to move in the right direction, or you have an established brand but have hit a plateau, Business Coaching helps you to create a concrete plan for unprecedented success and exponential growth.

As you work with your business coach, they will get to know you and your business and will provide you one-on-one guidance to help push you to meet your organization’s specific needs and achieve your greatest goals and. With more coaching for you as a business owner, you’ll increase your business success, but when business coaching is incorporated for each member of your executive team then the result is explosive exponential growth.

Who is a Business Mentor?

A business mentor is usually a person who has more business or entrepreneurial experience than you and imparts the same to you as a trusted confidante over a long period of time. This is usually done free of charge. 

Mentoring is defined as a process through which there is a direct transfer of knowledge and experience from one person to another. In business or the work environment, a mentor provides direction and guidance to a mentee. The mentee can be a person with less experience in business or a junior-level employee. In both cases, the mentee possesses similar interests and may aspire to grow to similar heights as the mentor. 

The business mentor will in most cases have achieved great success within a specific industry and for this reason, voluntarily shares their lessons and skills. Being a business mentor to an entrepreneur who is starting out is a great way of contributing to one’s community.  The guidance and advice they offer can have a measurable impact not just to the mentees but also to society at large 

As business mentors advise others, they also their skills as managers, consultants or business strategists. A mentorship relationship helps both mentor and mentee. the mentor gets to learn about new tactics, strategies, and ideas and from the mentee, as they learn timeless wisdom from them.

What Does a Business Coach Do?

A business coach partners with their clients in a creative thought-provoking process that inspires and guides them to maximize their professional and personal potential.

Business coaches are used in various industries for the same reasons. The coach isn’t just there to help you achieve your initial goals,  instead, your coach walks with you along the way. They continually pushing you and your team as you set and achieve greater results. With the help of your business coach, you’ll uncover and break through any limitations that hold you – and your business – back.

A business coach helps you to:

Become a more effective leader

You are able to build a roadmap for your success and become a master at execution in any setting with the strategies, tools and expert guidance you get from your coach.

Increase your revenue

They show you how to optimize the key areas of your business –customer experience, costs, market factors, and culture –so as to add massive value to your business’  bottom line.

Recruit and retain top talent in your team

A business coach helps you to grow your team with the right fit of individuals. You also learn how to create a growth culture that fosters the right employee engagement and leadership so as to retain your top performers.

Thrive in hard times

Business coaching helps you to create a plan for success and become a master of execution in any setting with tools from Tony’s Ultimate Success Formula and expert guidance from your coach.

What Does a Business Mentor Do?

Once you start your own business, you may struggle to find someone to turn to for direction or advice when going through a rough patch. If you can find a business mentor, one who has been there and done that, you can benefit in various ways. They could provide you with a good and reliable sounding board for your ideas, emotional support when times get tough or a second opinion when you question your judgment.

Since the mentor has personal experience in business, you can learn from their previous successes and mistakes. It is not uncommon for the mentor to have experience in a different industry though it helps if they are in your particular industry. They also don’t have to be up to date with the latest technology or trends.  Their main role is to share lessons from their own experience so that you can learn from them quickly and easily.

In most cases mentorship is free so if you are on a tight budget or no budget at all, that’s a plus. While good consultants and coaches may be able to offer many other insights that a mentor will not, it usually comes at a price, often a steep one. Mentors, on the other hand, are readily available, free of charge through a few organizations and many other groups. But it’s important to accord them the highest respect for their willingness to help you avoid costly mistakes they made and smoothen your path. 

Your mentor, being an experienced businessperson themself,  will most likely have an extensive social and business network, which can give you access to many more senior decision-makers than you currently have. A business mentor may be very willing to open their network to you than to a casual encounter during a networking meeting.

Working with a business mentor also gives you a trusted, long-term relationship. As your relationship develops over time, the trust you have grows even stronger. In addition, the time spent with them becomes more efficient as they become more familiar with you and your business.

10 key differences between coaching and mentoring in business

1. Focus

Coaching is mostly performance-driven and is designed to help improve the client’s on-the-job performance.

Mentoring is mostly development driven. It looks not just at the professional’s side but beyond and takes a more holistic approach to career development.

2. Orientation

Coaching is oriented around specific tasks. Business coaches help individuals to become more competent in specific areas or focus on important skills they might lack. This may include public speaking, conflict resolution or strategic thinking.

Mentoring is oriented around relationships. A mentor and their mentee might focus at first on certain competencies or goals, over time as they work together; they develop a rapport or bond that often goes beyond the workplace.

3. Result/ outcome

The results from coaching are measurable and specific. This indicates signs of positive change in a specific area of performance or improvement in general.

The results from mentoring can vary over time. The interest is less in measurable or specific results or a change in behavior and is more towards the mentee’s overall development.

4. Structure

Coaching occurs in a more structured manner. This involves regularly scheduled meetings happening weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.

For mentoring, meetings generally tend to be more informal. They happen on an as need basis mostly at the request of the mentee.

5. Questioning

The coach asks thought-provoking questions that help an individual recognize patterns, make important decisions and take action towards change.

In mentoring, more questions come from the mentee as they look to tap from the mentor’s expertise.

6. Evaluation

With coaching, evaluation is easier. The goals are clearly defined at the beginning, and whether they are accomplished or not can be measured and tracked.

With mentoring, accomplishments are usually measured in very broad terms. While the core benefits may include improved morale or increased turnover, it can be quite difficult for organizations to identify specific performance indicators that are a direct result of mentorship.

7. Expertise

A coach does not necessarily have to possess direct experience of their client’s formal occupational role. They only require coaching skills to help the client navigate through and get the desired results. Exceptions are when the coaching is skills-focused or very specific.

A mentor is in most cases more qualified and experienced than the mentee. This role falls on senior persons in an organization or experienced entrepreneurs who can pass their experience, knowledge, and open doors for the mentee to otherwise out-of-reach opportunities.

8. Agenda

The coaching agenda is co-created by the coach and the client. The agenda is set to meet the specific needs of the coachee.

The mentoring agenda is often set by the mentee. The mentor, in turn, supports that agenda.

9. Timeframe

Coaching is most likely to be short-term with the longest terms going up to 6 months or 1 year. In a few exceptional cases, the coaching relationships can last longer, depending on goals achieved.

The mentoring relationship tends to be long-term, with some mentoring relationships going for a year or two, and even longer.

10. Input from Leadership

Coaching often requires active engagement from management. A manager often monitors the progress, getting regular feedback from the coach, and in many times will determine when a coaching initiative concludes.

Mentoring requires very little oversight. Although a manager may in some cases be assigned to oversee the logistics of a mentoring program, formal supervision is rarely required. Mentors and mentees often steer the direction of their relationship.