Making a Distinction Between Coaching and Mentoring

Hi folks – I wrote this for client as notes for her to use with the executive team of her organisation – hope that it’s useful.

Management Mentoring and Coaching – Making a Distinction Between the Two Roles and How They Are Used

1. Definitions

It is useful to have a clear delineation between the two roles.


The Mentor has experience which the mentee would wish to benefit from, i.e.

– is an experienced manager from the same or similar company with organisation/sector specific knowledge

– is an experienced manager/leader at a similar level within a similar but different organisation

– is an experienced project or change manager who has task based knowledge, skills and experience which is useful for the mentee, again not necessarily from the related field.

Mentoring process

The mentee would have an idea of what they wanted to know from the mentor. However they may also be interested in finding out what they didn’t know that they didn’t know, i.e. unforeseen issues of which the mentor has experience. The mentor would be expected to have a lot of content which they can share. The focus would be on advice-giving as well as assisting the mentee in problem-solving


– A coach has skills in asking questions, using exercises to help coachees explore and find their own solutions     

– they may not necessarily have any related sector experience (may even be a hindrance)

– a coach will have a career focus on coaching and understand the difference between content (mentoring) and a development process (coaching)

– coaches may be using a number of coaching models

– coaches are willing (may encourage) working with emotions

Coaching process

The skill and knowledge being bought is the ability to make relationships, motivate people, elicit hidden/untapped resources and help the coachee alter his/her behaviour. The coach will ask questions and allow the coachee to do the work – coachees are more motivated by what comes out of their mouth than someone else’s and therefore advice is unwelcome. If contracted (i.e. meets the objectives of the coaching), coaches can be more challenging in helping coachees examine their behaviour and thought patterns

2. Which approach to use?

A manager moving into an unfamiliar area may benefit from an experienced practitioner/mentor. A manager who is struggling may benefit from a supportive explanation of different approaches from a mentor. Mentoring is good at filling knowledge gaps around specific matters and helping people take on new roles when the existing confidence and skill levels show potential.

A manager who is struggling with an issue and has received support on a line management basis and has not been able to move on, or is experiencing high levels of stress or uncertainty may be better served by coaching.

If a performance gap is spotted and readily accepted, then a range of knowledge based methods may help including. If the gap is more difficult to understand or accept or change through other methods then coaching may be useful. However coaching people against their will is not advisable (or practical).

3. Who to use?

Research into coaching success indicates no particular relationship between outcome, model, qualification or previous experience. Like similar studies in counselling, successful coaching is based on the relationship – it’s the person.

Therefore the best way to select may be to do a shortlist of likely coaches and set up a meeting to allow the mentee/coaches to find out about the person.

4. How much to pay?

Coaching – In the last few months I’ve been quoted anything between £50 to £750 for a 90 minute session for coaching in the public sector. £300/£350 seems to be usual for successful coaches. There also may be other way to lower costs if a number of coachees/sessions are anticipated. This cost is high and good results should be expected. Cost benefits include person-centred approach, tailored to objectives etc and taking the coachee out of the workplace for a short while. It compares favourably to a specialist conference approx £350 or a training course which takes people out for a day and doesn’t hit the spot.

Mentoring – quite often a pro-bono activity although I think that companies have paid for coaching and got mentoring in the recent passed. Generally I think mentoring is less expensive than coaching.

Duration –long coaching or mentoring relationships are to be avoided.

5. Contracting

This is an important area which is oft neglected. If companies are to invest in either coaching or mentoring they need to have an input into developing the objectives for the work, balanced of course with the individuals objectives.

 Hope that helps

Developing Your Organisation’s Approach to Appraisals and 121 Meetings

I have been doing some work with the lovely people at Care for the Carers charity in Eastbourne. One of the areas for discussion has been good practice in supervising and appraising staff – as promised I’m posting my materials and various others bits and bobs here.

First off, here are slides which have combined both sessions – there all here. There is also a link to the Non-Violent Communicationsite and a downloadable version of my truncated version of the NVC model which sidesteps feelings. I also attach a starting or reviewing supervision document which aims to support managers in beginning a supervisory relationships or perhaps breathing new life into it. It was produce by the Brief Consultancy and we used it on the manager session. It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but proved a useful bouncing off point and the managers produced their own list, which was gold dust.

There were a couple of things which I didn’t use. The first is a supervision scaling exercise to help people identify what and how they would like to develop in the their performance, the second is a format for having difficult conversations in supervision sessions.

 Hope that’s useful.

: – )

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