Coaching, Human Resources

More on Coaching vs Mentoring

Mentoring, on the other hand, is far more personal and friendship-based, offering non-judgmental support as a positive role model and focusing on a mentee’s longer term personal development. The mentor makes suggestions. The relationship is neither formally evaluated nor connected to job advancement but rather to personal improvement.

According to Lois J. Zachary, President of Leadership Development Services in Phoenix, "The mentee or protégé has gone from being a passive learner — where the mentoring is done to you as you sit at the foot of the master — to an active learner who directs the process. It’s much more collaborative now; there is more precision and structure."

Many companies do not choose between implementing a coaching or mentoring program. They often implement both programs to meet different employee needs. When Jack Welch, former Chairman of General Electric, stated that a strong mentor/mentee relationship is the basis of forging tomorrow’s leaders, I suspect that he recognized this as an outcome of both internal coaching and mentoring programs.

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The chart below demonstrates some of the differences between coaching and mentoring.





Improve job performance or skills

Support and guide personal career growth


Coach directs learning

Mentee is in charge of learning


Protégé agrees to accept coaching; may not be voluntary

Both mentor and mentee are volunteers


Immediate problems & learning opportunities

Longer term personal development


Focus on telling with appropriate feedback

Focus on listening, behavioral role model, making suggestions and connections


Short term needs; “as needed”

Longer term

(Source: Coaching and Mentoring – Harvard Business Essentials – 2004)

Benefits of implementing an internal mentoring program

The business community in this nation is seeking employee retention, productivity, satisfaction on the job and improved morale, leadership, pride and social responsibility. Creating corporate citizenship programs leads to competitive differentiation and stakeholder loyalty. Mentoring plays a critical role in personal combined with professional development. Mentors help their mentees over the speed bumps, providing needed support and encouragement. They offer advice, guidance, and promote enhanced self- confidence. They foster pride in the organization and boost organization communication.

Mentors and mentees work together to discover and develop the mentee’s talents. The mentor offers perspective, insight, support and wisdom based on experience. The good news is that mentoring is two directional. Usually the mentor gains as much if not more rewards from working with a mentee, including enhancing their own leadership skills, satisfaction and personal fulfillment.

A word of caution: Not all employees make good mentors. Business should identify individuals to serve as mentors who are outstanding employees and set positive examples for others. These are employees who like people, are committed and willing to set aside the time to work with a mentee. They are consistent and confidential, have a superb work ethic, are patient and responsible, positive role models and have a genuine interest in developing others and sensitivity to others’ needs and development, and possess excellent listening skills.

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