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When you search ‘Coaching vs Mentoring‘ on Google, you may find different results that are really confusing. Mentors can be coaches, and coaches can be mentors. Though the reality is mentoring and coaching are basically very similar. They are about forming relationships to help people build their careers, realize their potential, and achieve their goals. Both are also rooted in training and learning and require a level of respect, communication, and trust to work.

However, there is still a big difference between them. Since both mentors and coaches can be valuable, it is crucial to understand the core differences, precisely when you want to determine which one you should pursue.

What is Coaching?

Someone who guides a client on their goals to help them reach their potential is a coach. Coaching involves assisting clients in a creative and thought-provoking process that inspires them to maximize their professional and personal potential. The method of coaching uncovers previous sources of productivity, leadership, and imagination.

Coaching is a skill. Employees should have access to coaches who are also their mentors — listening to the person, recognizing their requirements, and helping them make an action plan. The emphasis is on the person finding the solution and not leading or instructing them.

The word ‘coach’ means ‘to extract. It is evolved to its present meaning as someone who supports others by extracting thought, self-discovery, action planning, reflection, and goal-setting.

Coaching involves asking people questions to help them think through their problems and apply what they already know. Coaches build commitment and facilitate goal setting by getting individuals to decide how they will accomplish their objectives. Coaches may not have experience or knowledge like mentors, but instead, they have the skills to teach and coach people.

Skills Required for Coaching

  • Relationship equals where the coachee and coach have mutual respect and understanding
  • Ability to inspire and maximize resources
  • Ability to identify challenges and strengths of the coachee
  • Skill to handle problems and not to dwell on them
  • Ability to raise responsibility and raise awareness among the individuals being coached
  • Talent to find a balance between practical skills and interpersonal skills to convert plans into actions

What Is Mentoring?

On the other hand, mentoring is defined as the process or act of helping and providing advice to a less experienced and younger person. It is a more informal relationship as compared to coaching. Mentoring is shaped by how a mentor leverages their skills and experiences to offer their expertise, experience, knowledge, advice, and above all, guide the mentee who wants to follow a similar path. Besides, a mentor helps their mentees to grow and develop.

As a coach, the mentor helps you consider great opportunities for your career growth, boost your confidence, improve your skills, and reach the goals you have set for yourself. But, the main difference between them is a mentor is usually from the same field, industry, or company. Also, they may have the job you are aspiring to have. The support of a mentor is based on the insights they have gained and their personal experiences helping you reach where you are today. A mentor can be a role model and an advisor for the mentee. Besides, there is a level of relatability and empathy between their relationships with the mentee.

Coaching vs Mentoring

In addition, in many cases, a mentor is part of the same company in a more senior role than a mentee, and mentoring is their job. Nevertheless, people can have mentors outside their workplace as well through their professional network.

Skills Required for Mentoring

To be an effective mentor, you don’t have any qualifications but require skills, such as:

  • Keen interest to help others
  • First-hand knowledge, insights, and experience in the area are mentoring as it is based on concrete guidance and advice
  • Interpersonal skills and relationship building are crucial for mentoring
  • Dedicated long-term time commitment
  • Encouraging, inspiring energy, and motivating energy
  • Helping to recognize the goals of the mentee is important

There are some mentoring skills that overlap with coaching.

Why are Some People Confused Between Coaching vs Mentoring?

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to coaching and mentoring. This may be because both of them have similar objectives. It could also be because you work with customers involved in various conversations at once or from scratch. Either way, you have to clarify the responsibility between coaching and mentoring so that the mentee and coaching clients understand each role.

Some differences exist between mentoring and coaching, and such distinctions help define the expectations based on the assistance type required. So, it is way too easy to confuse mentoring and coaching. Both help clients learn from their experiences to achieve success and overcome difficulties in different walks of their lives.

Mentors offer general advice over a more extended period without keeping any track, whereas coaching offers goal-oriented assistance. When coaching focuses on assisting clients with defined goals, mentoring may be more-ended because it doesn’t need a particular intended result like coaching.

Coaching vs Mentoring: A Closer Look at the Differences

Coaching includes awareness of self that focuses on making positive changes in behavior. It helps people to grow and become better. It involves learning one-to-one and usually for a short duration. In contrast to mentoring, it is generally for a long time where they share their experience and knowledge to help the individuals in their development process.

So precisely, how do coaching and mentoring differ from each other? Though the specifications can vary from person to person or relationship to relationship, the following areas show that mentoring and coaching are different.


Coaching operates on a strict timeline, usually with a short-time timeframe to achieve goals. It can last a few months to a year but has a defined ending period ultimately. However, coaching still wants their clients to succeed and is happy to get updates.

Meanwhile, mentoring is long-term and can also last a lifetime if the mentor and mentee share a successful relationship. Mentorships can ebb and flow in strength over a professional lifetime, and they can remain in touch with mentees for any amount of time they want.

Driver & Focus

Coaching focuses on the present and improving skills. It is performance-driven. It is positioned around achieving specific goals and tasks.

In contrast, mentoring is driven by development with a focus on the future. Apart from that, it influences the professional and personal growth of the person.

Applications and Interrelations

Coaching aims at accomplishing defined objectives. The coach is an expert who is there to help a business or an individual. The tasks are clearly defined and the way how to accomplish them.

Mentoring involves focusing on human relationships with experience and knowledge that affects personal and professional life as well.

Level of Structure & Formality

Coaching can start right away during the first meeting or session. It is structured by outcomes and needs and is highly organized with one plain object to achieve goals. It is traditionally a more structured and formal relationship.

Mentoring, however, tends to be more informal. The individuals usually take time to know each other during the process. They handle meetings on the basis of their needs. It could lead to a personal bond along with a professional connection.

Area of Expertise & Training

The expertise of a coach is to help people gain specific skills or get them where they want to reach. Coaches do not need real-world experience, but they have some special training to become one.

On the other hand, a mentor’s expertise lies in being in the same line of work or industry as the mentee with first-hand knowledge and experience. Usually, mentors do not have formal training to become a mentor.

Evaluation & Outcomes

In a coaching relationship, the evaluation process is pretty straightforward. At the beginning of the relationship, they have an arrangement and a set of goals and agree upon the different ways to be evaluated against them. Success is measurable in this case.

In comparison, mentoring is more challenging to evaluate and decide the outcome. A mentor and mentee should have ideas about what they wish to provide and gain from the mentorship. They have a conversation regarding the ideas and goals from the start since the focus is more on the overall development of the mentee, so outcomes vary, and the success is defined more broadly.

Coaching vs Mentoring

Compensation & Costs

Hiring a coach is a monetary investment as they are compensated for their time and expertise. A coach is always focused on helping to achieve the goals, prepared for the session, and can accommodate the schedule.

Mentoring, however, is volunteer-based typically and may be part of the job description of the person. The cost is the effort and time you both can put into it.


Coaching and mentoring both help individuals to succeed but with different methods and approaches. The relationship they share with the respective coachee and mentee is other. Both help increase employee engagement, enhance interpersonal skills and confidence, ultimately leading to improving the performance of the individual. So, it is up to you to decide which one is best for you.

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