Over the last couple of years, the terms ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’ have become increasingly popular, and for good reason. Many have found themselves advancing further thanks to the fact that someone else believed in them, and the words ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’ are often used interchangeably – because they mean the same thing – or do they?
No matter the stage you find yourself in professionally, both coaches and mentors are equally invaluable; but what’s the difference between the two?
Mentoring vs Coaching – Telling them apart
Traditionally, mentors were assigned their roles with the aim of helping employees learn the ropes. In the business world, mentors act as advisors; irrespective of whether they are compensated or not.
Mentors are generally highly successful people who are willing to impart their hard-earned wisdom to provide the guidance and insight required by most entrepreneurs throughout their journey. Mentors need not share the same expertise as their mentee, however, they have a proven track record that shows they’re able to navigate the business in general.
Coaches, on the other hand, are a little more specific. Very often they share the same field of expertise as the people they’re working with, and are generally trained and certified to act as coaches.
Coaches are generally brought in at C level, or by individual entrepreneurs to anticipate and manage any changes within the industry, and are sought after for their active strategy and co-creative skills.
Which one’s for you?
You might already be aware of which relationship might be more beneficial for you right now, but if you’re still making up your mind, here are a couple of pointers to keep in mind.
What stage are you at?
One of the biggest determining factors between a mentor and a coach is definitely the stage of your journey. If you’re a first-timer in an early-stage startup then a seasoned mentor would be able to rise to the occasion and react to certain basic challenges and concerns.
As the company and its C-Level executives grow however then it might be a good idea to call in a coach, who would pre-emptively work with you on strategy whilst pointing out any finer technical details that might have been overlooked by the mentor.
What do you need?
If you’re able to focus all your needs into one specific area, then a coach is definitely the way to go. If, on the other hand, you aren’t really sure and would like to seek out general advice, then you’re probably best seeking out a mentor.
Can you have it all?
Unlike certain life situations, this one doesn’t need to be a ‘this’ or ‘that’ sort of situation. In fact, some of the most successful entrepreneurs enjoy networks that are made out of both mentors and coaches, which individually advise them on different matters.
Sometimes you’re lucky enough to come across people who can act as both, other times you’ll mix and match. The most important part is that you’ve got a valuable player in your corner, and that’s pretty much everything.
Besides providing coaching and mentoring services, ThinkTalent offers consultancy and guidance in setting up mentoring programmes and policies as part of its HR consultancy services as well as the relevant training required for the development of effective mentors in organisations. Contact us to find out more.