In life, established or establishing, corporate employer or entrepreneur, everyone at some point of time or other might feel directionless, demotivated, confused. We all have many unanswerable queries and often can do with help from someone who can guide us. People who help us find direction can be a family member, a friend or a fellow senior professional. Someone we lean on, and network with regularly, we often refer to as our Mentor, especially in the corporate world. We may sometimes also say they are our Coach. In this context, the terms Mentor and Coach are, commonly, used interchangeably but the two terms do not mean the same. Even though both of the terms share the goal of helping people, their working relationship, definition, role, approach all are different.
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What is mentoring?
Mentoring is an informal discussion regarding life choices often between juniors with their seniors who have more situational experience than them. It is a mutual conversation between two people, one giving solicited advice and one listening to it. A person with more experience advices a person with less or none.
Anyone; friend, family or senior at the workplace can be a mentor to someone. It is a short-term or long-term personal relationship without any ulterior gains. As healthy discussions take place, mentor-mentee relationships can run deep and may be spread over the long term.
Mentoring relationships are beneficial to both the parties involved. Sharing experiences enriches each other, active listening and speaking takes place without any obligation to do so. There are no mandatory timed discussion sessions between them, only friendly suggestions and connections.
What is coaching?
According to International Coaching federation, coaching is defined as a professional partnership between a Coach and a client. It is a thought-provoking creative relationship which acknowledges the untapped potential of clients and allows them to grow both personally and professionally.
Certified Coaching is a respected profession worldwide. Amateur mentors can become coaches after completing structured coaching courses following the ICF credential norms. ICF certified coaches are recognised globally. Coaches maintain a formal relationship with their clients. They are non-judgmental advisors who are fully committed towards the wellbeing of their clients. They also have a structured approach to coaching.
ICF Coaches have a detailed plan of action. They know the suitable questions to ask their clients which pushes the clients to find their full potentiality. Coaches puts emphasis on ‘who’ the client is instead of ‘what’ their situation is.
Difference between Mentoring and Coaching
- Mentoring is formal/informal discourse between two known people whereas coaching involves formal sessions between a professional and their clients.
- Mentors can have a short – term or a long-term personal relationship with their mentees. Certified coaches have usually have a time-defined professional relationship with their clients.
- Senior mentors can only advise based on their own experience. This may make then biased to certain solutions. Coaches work with clients using a coaching framework and they attempt to stay un biased and work towards fulfilling their client’s potential.
- A mentor’s opinion is ever changing, they view the matter as a situational entity. As the matter develops, their opinions might undergo a change. Coaching follows a structured methodology for all clientele dealings. They formulate specific questions and try to ease their clients towards the desired results.
- Mentors can provide loose direction and solutions based on their life choices and values. They do not work with a structure in mind. Coaches on the other hand believe in working with their clients. They believe all answers are already in the minds of the clients, they only need to be pushed and break their own internal limitations.
- Mentors do not work towards long term behaviour changes. A Coach works at deeper levels to try an effect a change in behaviour.
- Mentors often introduce their mentees to others in their network. A Coach usually would not work on helping a client build external connections.
- Mentors tend to provide answers based on external situations and circumstances. Coaches work helping clients find their own answers to the questions they are asking. They orient the clients in the direction of self-growth.
- Mentoring put emphasis on active listening-talking and in making suggestions. Coaches do not lead their clients or instruct them, they listen intently, identify their needs and help them develop an action plan.
Even though certain differences lie between mentoring and coaching, their operational purpose is the same, that is, to provide direction to the participants. Both mentoring and coaching work on trust, open communication and mutual respect. However, one should pick between the two very carefully based on one’s need at any point in time. A short- term need would be served by mentoring, but a long-term change to behaviour would be better served by a Coach.
You can start working towards your mentor certification today if your feel you are the right fit.