Business Coaching and Mentoring : Understanding the Difference

Business coaching and mentoring use the same skills, so it can be easy to fail to differentiate between the two. There is however some fundamental differences between the two. In this article we will look at what they are, the basic difference being that coaching is a shorter term task than mentoring. It is important to understand that although the two processes are similar, they are two different skill sets. A summary of the difference is as follows. “A coach has some great questions for your answers: a mentor has some great answers for your questions”

business coaching and mentoring

Business Coaching and Mentoring : Defining the Two

Mentoring is a relationship that is built up over time. It can last for long periods of time, and unlike coaching, it can often be informal. What we mean here is that a chosen mentor may be an old school master or a colleague. It is highly unlikely that someone you already know will become your coach. A mentoring relationship will not have a strict schedule. Meetings will take place when the mentee needs some help and advice. A coach on the other hand will have set sessions that are charged by the hour for his client.

A coach will have a structured nature, and the relationship will have a set duration. A mentor however will take a broader approach that will span over more time. A mentor will often be a senior person within an organisation. He will focus on the personal development and the career of his mentee.

Coaching on the other hand is about setting immediate goals and achieving them. In each coaching sessions, new goals will be set, with a time limit to achieve them. This will allow for the client to progress with haste, and reach the point he wants to be at sooner rather than later. Coaching can be divided into different subsections such as career coaching and executive business coaching. 


If you look at people who have mentors, you will see a pattern. A mentor will stay by the side of their mentor for guidance for years, even decades. He will be there when he is needed, and when not, he will still be there, but in the background. A lot of mentoring relationships are not paid. The mentor is a family friend, a colleague, an old school master, or someone the clients has known in the local community for many years and has always looked to for inspiration.

Business coaching and mentoring share a lot of the same skills. For this reasons it can sometimes be hard to decide whether you need a coach or a mentor. If you have an urgency to improve and achieve a goal, then choose a high-powered coach. He will charge you for a certain amount of sessions, and set you goals to achieve by the end of the relationship. A mentor on the other hand will guide you, offering you advice and support, as and when you need it, to ensure that the path you take through life and career is a smoother one.

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