Mentoring vs Coaching: Caroline Sheridan discusses differences between the two and when to use them

Published by Rhys Taylor-Brown on March 20th 2021, 10:10am

Caroline Sheridan, CEO of Sheridan Resolutions, recently delivered an engaging webinar talk alongside PushFar CEO, Ed Johnson, discussing the importance of coaching and mentoring within an organisation, the differences between the two, and when to use them.

According to Sheridan, coaching and mentoring can both be effective techniques to enable employees to learn.

She explains: "Coaching and mentoring can take a formal or informal form, increase employee engagement, improve their individual performance and self-confidence, and are easy to implement in any organisation.”

Nancy Kline once said that a “brilliant” coach is one who brings out the brilliance of others, while John C. Maxwell identified a mentor’s “ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination” as one of their greatest attributes. Fundamentally, coaching and mentoring are both about helping people get to where they want to be, yet they are often confused or used interchangeably. There are, therefore, several key differences between the two.

Distinguishing between them, Sheridan and Johnson clarify during the talk that a mentor is somebody who shares their knowledge, skills, and experience to help others to develop and grow, while on the other hand, a coach is someone who provides guidance to a client on their goals and helps them reach their full potential.

Sheridan says: “Both aspects can be seen to evolve from directive [mentoring] to non-directive [coaching]. Mentoring is often a longer-term exercise which is development driven, less structured and directive, while coaching is shorter-term, typically more structured and is performance driven.”

The required skills for someone to be a mentor or a coach also vary, as Sheridan highlights.

“Coaching is fundamentally a relationship of equals. A coach’s role is to maximise resources and inspire others, recognise people’s strengths and challenge them to move forward, tackle problems head on, and raise awareness of responsibility. A balance of interpersonal skills and the practical is important here.

“Mentors on the other hand should show a keen interest in helping to develop other people, and should bring first-hand experience, knowledge and insights to the table. Their emphasis should be more on the interpersonal and building relationships, and should also motivate, encourage and inspire others, as well as helping the mentee identify what their goals are or ought to be.”

Sheridan Resolutions and PushFar indicate six key steps for any business or organisation to take if they wish to introduce coaching or mentoring programmes. These include understanding what the ‘needs’ are within one’s business to help formulate the programmes; mapping out clear objectives; recruiting, sourcing and developing mentors and coaches to carry out the programmes; communicating the launch of your coaching and mentoring programme once it is underway; facilitating programmes with the appropriate technologies and platforms; and devising ways to track, measure and report on the success of one’s development under these programmes.

The full audio recording from the Mentoring vs Coaching webinar can be found here, alongside downloadable PowerPoint presentation slides from the event.

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Authored By

Rhys Taylor-Brown
Junior Editor
March 20th 2021, 10:10am

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