If you’re looking to advance in your career then you might be thinking about employing the aid of a coach or mentor. They can both provide the insight and inspiration necessary to climb the organizational ladder.
It’s important to know the differences between coaching and mentoring to ensure that you employ the right approach for you. People often find that having both is useful. Read on to find out which is right for you.
The Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring
Put simply, a mentor is an and experienced and trusted advisor who has worked or is working in the same field as the client. A coach is more likely to be an external agent who works with a client to meet specific goals in areas that they wish to improve in. Let’s take a look at some of the specific differences between coaching and mentoring.
The relationship with a life-coach typically lasts for around 6 months to 1 year, as they have specific goals in mind. Time spent working with a mentor is usually longer, lasting in excess of 1 year.
Life coaches tend to follow a more rigid structure, similar to a therapist. Meetings will typically be scheduled weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Due to the longer timeframe of working with a mentor, meetings tend to be on an ‘as needed’ basis and more informal.
Life coaching is performance-driven and is usually focussed on improving specific skills. Mentoring tends to be more holistic and focuses on overall development in the client’s career and life.
Coaching is usually task-specific so coaches are hired because of their expertise in one area such as leadership or public speaking. Mentors tend to be in a higher position and possess more expertise than their clients in specific areas.
A good coach will ask thought-provoking questions to help the client recognize necessary behavioral changes, make important decisions, and take action. In mentoring, the client is likely to be the asking questions as they tap into the knowledge and expertise of the mentor.
One of the biggest differences is in the agenda. A coach sits down with their client and co-creates the agenda to meet specific needs. With mentoring, the agenda is already set by the client and the mentor supports that agenda.
The outcome from a relationship between coach and client is usually goal specific and measurable. There will be milestones of improvements with an ultimate goal in mind. Mentoring is a lot more fluid and the outcome can change over time.
When to Use a Coach
A coach is best employed when the individual is trying to develop a specific skill. They are incredibly useful for people who are not currently meeting expectations or are looking to advance within their chosen field. It’s worth thinking of coaching as a one-on-one training program.
When to Use a Mentor
Mentoring focuses much more on motivation and inspiration. They provide clients with the opportunity to see what is possible in their careers and life. Because the mentor is often in a higher position in a similar field to the client, the relationship allows the mentor to pass down their expertise and help steer the client on a path to excellence.
The Benefits of Coaching and Mentoring
Both mentors and coaches can benefit individuals and businesses in several ways. It’s important to be clear on your priorities and what kind of support you are looking for. Understanding the key differences between coaching and mentoring will help you decide which is right for you.
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