Coaching vs Mentoring in The Workplace

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Coaching vs Mentoring in The Workplace

Posted by: Phil Kelly
Category: Articles, Blog

“The world of work is changing. Our research shows that developing coaching and mentoring skills at every level of an organisation is the key to unlocking potential and increasing productivity.”

The Institute of Leadership and Management – 2020

BONUS DOWNLOAD: Access The Coaching V’s Mentoring Vodcast

Why coaching and mentoring?

A skilled coach or mentor is an invaluable asset to any organisation. As well as increasing confidence and motivation, ILM’s coaching and mentoring qualifications improve management performance, conflict resolution and communication and interpersonal skills.

Our latest research has found that coaching and mentoring can positively impact the workplace in a variety of ways:

  • Stronger teams
  • Support for talented employees
  • Improved ability to align with the organisation’s culture and ethos with employees’
  • A more inclusive culture
  • Improved employee satisfaction scores
  • Improved staff retention

Coaching vs Mentoring: What’s the difference?

The goals are the same for both coaching and mentoring: to encourage people to learn, improve, and achieve their full potential. Importantly, both approaches allow individuals to take care of their individual growth but using varying methodologies.

While the credentials needed are identical, and both are used as tools for professional advancement, the structure and the outcomes are somewhat different.

While addressing individuals’ advancement, both coaching and mentoring usually get put in the same group, making them feel like an organisation’s choice comparatively. But coaching and mentoring vary. It’s important to see them as different entities and consider how they fit together. There’s a clear distinction between the two, each one serving a different purpose.

Mentoring Coaching
The ongoing relationship that can last for a long time. To be really successful, the mentor and mentee need to develop ‘rapport’. They often become friends. Relationships generally have a short duration. ‘Rapport’ is not so important, although the client needs to be comfortable with being ‘open and honest’.
Can be more informal and meetings can take place as and when the mentee needs some guidance and or support Generally, more structured in nature and meetings will be scheduled on a regular basis.
Agenda is set by the mentee with the mentor providing support and guidance to prepare them for future roles or specific skills development. Agenda is set by the client and is focused on achieving specific, immediate goals.
Revolves more around developing the mentee professionally, particularly regarding their skills and their application to the specific work context. Revolves more around specific personal development areas/issues, perhaps related to behaviour, attitudes or self-awareness.
More long term and takes a broader view of the person. Often known as the ‘mentee’ but the term client or mentored person can be used. Short term (sometimes time-bounded) and focused on specific current development areas/issues.

BONUS RECORDING: How to have better conversations using coaching & mentoring skills

What are Coaching and Mentoring?

When comparing coaching vs mentoring, they have distinct differences. A coach is someone who can educate you in certain and specific areas of growth. They will define and prioritise areas of change, set agreed goals and collaborate with you to shape and refine your thought process.

Great coaches will help you develop a greater understanding of yourself, your brain’s conditioning and equip you to meet potential obstacles and circumstances.

On the other hand, a mentor is a person who can guide you to be the best in your profession, lead, support, and advise you. A mentor will advise you based on their knowledge and personal experiences after taking the time to understand you, the manner in which you work, and the difficulties you face.

While good mentors exhibit coaching elements during their sittings, the core elements of coaching are different from mentoring.

What is the Difference Between a Mentor and a Coach?

Mentoring and Coaching in the corporate sense are most frequently used interchangeably. Therefore, in many companies, mentors are required to perform coaching roles as well. Despite the thoughts of many people, a mentor and a coach vary tremendously in their functions.

In plain terms, a mentor is someone who gives less qualified or experienced people their insight, skills and provides guidance. By leveraging their skills and credentials, mentors steer mentees towards an improved operational process.

A mentor allows mentees to realise their potential to advance their education, build trust, and enhance the shared experience. The help is focused on the mentor’s knowledge and learning, making the mentees more reliable.

Good mentors are indeed able to share their experience and expertise with mentees. Since they most likely went through similar problems, they are more open to understanding the mentee’s needs.

Mentors have an optimistic and competent personality to encourage and develop confidence and trust. These characteristics encourage the discussion of their professional priorities and interests.

On the contrary, an organisation coach specialises in individual skills and growth goals, which must be performed in a short time. This allows corporate coaching to clarify their vision of success and lead companies.

For several organisations, it is a huge struggle to define and prioritise goals. Company coaches solve this problem by having organisations giving attention to their priorities. The approach to addressing the challenges and handling particular parts of the work is more systematic and organised.

A good business coach examines the status quo, questions business decisions, and advises companies to analyse their strategy more closely. They thereby put the organisational vision and priorities into a new context. However, an organisation’s coach leads the organisation to follow adequate success plans rather than asking how things go.

For organisations, a coach tends to steer things in the right direction. Many organisations lose sight of where they want to be and what actions they need to take to achieve success. A coach offers advice and gives direction.

This works systematically for a business or an individual with the concept being similar.

coaching & Mentoring, ILM Course & Training provider,

What Are the Benefits of Mentoring and Coaching for Professionals & Professional Development?

The gains of coaching vs mentoring in the office workplace can include improved loyalty, leadership and communication skills, confidence, and exposure to new viewpoints. Mentored people tend to gain empowerment in making decisions, developing personal and study skills, gaining real-world advice, and creating strategies for handling both academic and personal issues. As a result, individuals with mentors get inspiration and are more likely to grow in their careers. Mentors do not bill for their service.

Coaching, as opposed to mentoring, is generally more organised and structured towards particular performance results. Coaching helps to provide the recipient with deeper learning levels and the ability to increase their level of engagement. It also helps one progress in specific skill sets, build personal awareness, and identify and work towards achieving set-out goals. This arrangement is more hierarchical since coaches, unlike mentors, charge for their service.

When considering whether to select coaching vs mentoring in the office workplace, the intended results are what will determine your selection.

What Are the Roles of a Coach?

A coach’s roles encompass creating suitable conditions for learning, guiding and motivating, teaching new skills and passing on knowledge. A coach’s role is to work hand in hand with the coachee to identify his goals and find ways to achieve those goals.

The coach’s job is to tease out the person’s best as quietly and efficiently as possible. It entails careful listening in a non-critical mood. This also includes managing innate impulses when circumstances or debates aren’t going as per the plan. The coach must retain the role of a facilitator instead of attempting to fix a dilemma.

What Are the Roles of a Mentor?

Being a mentor presents numerous obstacles and incentives. Instead of just creating strong supporters, they strive to shape their mentees into better leaders. If well done, the long-term influence of mentoring will be valuable to both parties for life-changing benefits and career transition.

A mentor offers a long-term perspective of the mentee’s growth and progress and lets them see the journey’s end but does not include a comprehensive map. A mentor frequently provides guidance and motivation, but not “how-to” tips.
What Are the Three Types of Coaching?

Every type of coaching method has been seen to be successful. Therefore, it is important to consider each style’s characteristics and how it is appropriate for various teams, players, and circumstances.

Holistic Coaching

The idea of a happy team automatically becoming a successful team is based on this holistic style coaching model. Very little formal preparation or constructive reinforcement is available. The holistic coach instead provides an atmosphere where the players are relaxed enough to dictate their own time and, in their own way, learn and improve skills. The coach is not a dominant authority and encourages the team instead to set its agenda.

This style is ideally suited for experienced players who have established a self-guided imagination and consciousness. It also calls for self-disciplined individuals who don’t need that extra push to perform. For the coach, holistic coaching means developing a great deal of partnership with each player as an entire participant. Although this involves a certain amount of hard work, the teams with experience and maturity reap dividends from this coaching style.

Democratic Coaching

Instead of dictating to them, coaches assist in target setting and decision-making with the athletes’ contribution. This coaching style is based on athletes, allowing them to form their individual expectations within a plan outlined by the coach. Democratic coaches give a great deal of control to athletes and teams who work towards their growth and direction.

This style is ideal for individual sports, such as tennis, field, and track competitions, where each athlete is required to steer his training style. Players younger than 14 years appear to favour a democratic model of coaching. Research suggests that this style helps young people develop a sense of self-control and trains them for autocratic coaching later in their lives.

Autocratic Coaching

It is best to summarise autocratic coaching with the statement “My way or the highway.” Autocratic coaches make choices with little or no player input. The coach has a view of what the players ought to do, and the players are inclined to perform. Autocratic coaching focuses on winning, which generally has rigid teaching frameworks.

This coaching is much more successful at competitive sports than at individual sports. Gender plays an important part in the acceptability of autocratic coaching. For example, research reveals that female teams react well to a male coach’s autocratic coaching but less in line if they are female.

What Are the Four Stages of Mentoring?

Successive mentoring partnerships go through four stages: preparation, negotiation, enabling growth, and closure. This is a distinctive difference when comparing coaching vs mentoring. These sequential phases are mutually beneficial and differ in duration.


In this stage, as a mentor, you initiate contact with your mentee. It is imperative that you share background information on yourselves as the best way for a mentorship program to work is if you get personal. Remember that the mentee is set out to learn from your personal experiences, so understanding you is important. Discuss the development and learning goals and identify the expectations of the mentee. Expound on personal learning styles, assumptions, and whatever limitations there may be. Cultivate a culture of confidentiality between the two of you and strive for mutual benefit. Most mentors have also been seen to experience career growth as they continue to engage in mentorship programs.


Negotiate on the time you are both willing to spend on the mentorship program, within reason. Set out SMART (smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) goals and agree on what format you want to drive your discussions. Journaling helps keep everything on track, as well as capturing follow-up tasks and monitoring progress. Negotiate your ground rules, boundaries, success criteria, and how often you will be checking in.

Enabling Growth

Growth is enabled in conducive environments. As a mentor, you set the pace. Be an active listener, be curiously engaged, and check in regularly. This kind of support helps the mentee comfortably have those difficult conversations since you have created a safe space to communicate. Throughout the mentorship program, evaluate goals and ensure deadlines are met. Solicit feedback as it is about the only way you can tell if you are effective. Encourage the mentee by celebrating every successful progression.


A mentoring partnership may sometimes evolve into a long-term professional association. However, if it does not evolve and inevitably comes to an end, be thankful for the experience. Communicate your gratitude and consider what you would do differently using what you learned in this experience.

coaching & Mentoring, ILM Course & Training provider,

What Are the Differences Between the Coaching & Mentoring Relationship?

There are certain definitive differences between coaching and mentoring relationships. Let’s look at them based on the intent vis-à-vis the methodology.


To satisfy the coachee’s unique needs, the coach and coachee co-design the coaching plan.

The mentee lays out the mentoring schedule, depending on what they intend to achieve from the partnership. The mentor sponsors this outline.


Coaching is typically more organised and runs on a schedule with daily, weekly, biweekly, and monthly meetings.

Mentoring meetings typically tend to be more casual and often go as per the mentee’s wishes.


Coaching relationships are set out for achieving particular targets and are more likely to be short-lived (up to 6 months or one year). However, some coaching ties will last longer, depending on the achievement of targets.

For mentoring, the partnership is typically longer and lasts a year or two or maybe longer, depending on how strong a bond has formed.


The outcome of a coaching partnership is specific and visible, with signs that the target areas have strengthened or modified positively.

The outcome of a relationship of mentoring will vary and change over time. Relevant observable consequences or shift in actions are of less concern. An increased interest in the general growth of the mentee is more important.


Coaches share their expertise in a given area, where the coachee needs to develop, and are employed for their know-how. For instance: communication skills, leadership, and presentation skills.

Mentors have more superiority and experience in a given field than mentees in corporate mentoring programs. The mentee draws their inspiration and benefits from the mentor’s experience.


Coaching is more result-oriented and helps to improve the work efficiency of the practitioner.

Mentoring is motivated mostly by growth, taking a holistic approach to career development, and looking at the professional’s current work role.


The coach’s top-level tool is asking the coachee questions that provoke deep thought to help them make big decisions. These provoking questions aid the coachee to identify behavioural change and take the necessary action.

On the other hand, the mentee is likely to ask more questions and take advantage of the mentor’s experience during the mentoring relationship.

What Are the Benefits of Mentoring and Coaching?

When coaching and mentoring are carried out effectively, they provide staff with a means to communicate, develop, and evolve in their profession and field. They enhance the organisation’s performance, the department, and the whole enterprise, and improve personnel.

Benefits of Mentoring

  • Enhance coordination and personal competences
  • Build organisational skills and leadership
  • Strengthen your learning and subjects’ knowledge
  • Build your faith and encouragement
  • Engage in a volunteering opportunity
  • Boost your resume
  • Enhance your circle of friends
  • Get your expertise and skills acknowledged
  • Take advantage of a sense of fulfilment and personal development.

Benefits of Coaching

  • Set and work against targets
  • Improvement of unique abilities
  • Personal awareness structuring
  • Create a secure space of thought to garner perspective
  • Deeper degree of learning
  • Strengthened dedication

ROI on Coaching & Mentoring in the Workplace

Studies over the last ten years report the following return on investment (ROI) from coaching:

  • Companies that offer training alone experience a 22.4% increase in productivity, but when combined with coaching that figure rises to 88%. Gerald Olivero, Denise Bane & Richard Kopelman, Public Personnel Management.
  • A conservative estimate of the monetary payoff from coaching, according to Fortune magazine, is that managers describe an average return of more than six times the cost of coaching.
  • Companies that combine coaching with training increase employee productivity by over 80%. Bureau of Justice statistics, June 2001.
  • Create a secure space of thought to garner perspective
  • A Manchester, Inc. study in 2001 demonstrated a 7-fold return on investment from coaching.

Source: HBR – Percentages are only increasing

Coaching and Mentoring Examples

Coaching is a profession.

A good example is a soccer coach. He partners with the team and works hand in hand to achieve a specific desired result while focusing on individual strengths and weaknesses. He leads the team and pushes them to achieve results, no matter how painful the process. He is paid for his services, and the result has a specified duration as to when it should be attained. He does not form personal allegiances and maintains the relationship as strictly professional. This association is usually short-lived and ceases to exist once the desired results have been achieved.

Mentoring is a calling, a volunteering engagement.

An example of a mentor is a leader in your organisation whom you would like to embody. You approach them to walk you through the challenges they faced and basically share their journey with you with the aim of taking a similar path. Mentors guide you, listen to you empathically, ‘walk the talk’ with you, and ensure you continue to grow as an individual. They are genuinely interested in your personal development without any monetary gain to them whatsoever. Mostly, close alliances are formed between mentor and mentee, and this partnership can continue for years. Mentorship is majorly to aid career growth and hone leadership skills. Mentors benefit too from this experience, and it sets them up for further career growth. After all, being able to mentor someone into a leadership position is not for the faint-hearted. Those who manage to achieve this are cut from a different cloth. Gaining pride out of seeing someone else succeed is the driving force behind a mentor’s mindset. That said, you must utilise wisdom and discernment when selecting a mentor.

BONUS DOWNLOAD: Skills Required To Be an Effective Coach v’s Skills Required to be An Effective Mentor

Coaching fit for challenges of the future.

The centre for creative leadership states the following as challenges currently faced by Leadership.

Our wealth of experience across industries, tells us that the skill and art of coaching will be fundamental to all leaders and managers in the future. The concept of “Leader as Coach” and “Manager as Coach” might be fairly new but we know how important these skills are in driving behaviour change, increasing productivity, improving employee engagement, enhancing mental wellbeing and fundamentally, achieving the strategic aims of the business.

To learn more about our range of ILM accredited coaching & mentoring courses click here or if you’re an athlete or organisation looking to enhance your human performance contact us

Author: Phil Kelly
An award-winning business owner and TED presenter, Phil lives and breaths performance. Having designed and delivered successful training packages across various industries worldwide, he now spends most of his time within business development and consulting. Phil Kelly
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