What is the difference between coaching and mentoring?

Image Credit — Alejandro Escamilla

The difference can be quite subtle. A coach and a mentor work with an individual to help them develop their own solutions. The coach works as a partner in this conversation, but the mentor shares much of their own knowledge, experience and advice and takes more of a guiding role.

What is good mentor/mentee relationship?

A mentor needs to have a strong relationship with their chosen mentor. It needs to be a safe environment, where the mentee can feel confident that they can share their issues and concerns. They need to trust the judgement of the mentor, and believe that they can learn from them.

Successful mentoring relationships thrive when the mentee feels confident enough to set the agenda. They need to recognise and own their issues and challenges, and then the mentor should work with them, using their organisation savvy, knowledge and experience, to help the mentee develop a solution that works for them.

What are the benefits of being a mentor?

Good mentors want to give back to their colleagues and the organisation. They gain:

  • Personal satisfaction in nurturing the growth and development of others
  • The ability to positively influence a new generation of colleagues and leaders
  • Enhanced interpersonal skills
  • An enhanced reputation within their organisation
  • A deeper understanding of the value of their years of personal and organisational experience
  • An opportunity to reflect on their role as a guide and leader

What are the benefits to the mentee?

The mentoring relationship offers the opportunity to grow. The mentee gains:

  • A safe space to talk
  • A relationship that offers them the possibility to reflect on their performance
  • Impartial advice and encouragement
  • The self-confidence and self-awareness to successfully plan their future path
  • New perspectives when dealing with their issues and concerns

How long should the relationship last?

The simple answer is it should last as long as it is needed.

Some mentoring relationships can be over in a few months, others last decades. If both individuals are still learning and growing, it should continue. If the mentee feels that they have achieved their objectives, it should finish.