Coaching and mentoring have many similarities and differences. Coaching involves “enhancing performance by helping an individual close his or her knowledge and skill gaps” (Zachary, 2012, p. 102). Mentoring “focuses on facilitating the future growth and development of the mentee” (Zachary, 2012, p. 102). In comparing mentoring with some of the coaching models that our class has reviewed in the past few months, the lines are blurred between both as they share many of the same skills and techniques from each other. However, the main difference between them is that the goal of coaching is often to correct behavior that is not appropriate for the setting, while mentoring is centered around supporting and guiding someone to grow personally or professionally.
Mentoring borrows some of the skills found in coaching, such as finding knowledge and skills gaps that are interfering with the mentee progressing in his or her role and assisting in closing these gaps (Zachary, 2012, p. 102). Coaching and mentoring both share the important skill of being a good listener. In mentoring, “effective listening makes mentees feel heard and sends a message that you genuinely care” (Zachary, 2012, p. 103). This is also the foundation of a coaching relationship, and this skill can be found in several models. In the “Better Conversations” presentation by Leah Chamberlain and Maria Kim, we learned that listening is a critical skill found in this model founded by Jim Knight.
Empathy is another commonality. According to Zachary (2012), mentoring can involve “inviting dialogue to understand varying points of view” (p. 104). Zachary (2012) also lists being empathetic to a mentee as being a helpful approach when engaging with a mentee (p. 116). In our presentation about Zenger and Stinnett’s FUEL model, Will D. and I explained how understanding and empathizing with the coachee’s point of view is one of four steps found in the model. Overall, mentoring and coaching are quite similar to one another, but the main difference is that coaching is used to correct a problem, while mentoring is used to build relationships in the long term to help better an individual in their personal or professional life.
Chamberlain, L. & Kim, M. (2018). Better conversations: An overview [Google slides]. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/13MYw2S7K_Zga
Gill, S.G. & Dewese W. (2018). John Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett’s FUEL model of coaching [Google slides]. Retrieved from https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1fEpM
Zachary, L.J. (2012). The mentor’s guide: Facilitating effective learning relationships (2nd ed.). San Francisco; Jossey-Bass.