March 14, 2019

What Are the Differences between Mentoring and Coaching?

Doug Lawrence

INTERNATIONAL MENTORING COMMUNITY: What is it and How Can You Benefit from It?









Have you wondered what all the hype is about this thing they call “Mentoring” and what’s the difference between it and “coaching”?

Unfortunately, Mentoring and Coaching are two terms the public uses interchangeably. While there are similarities between the two, they are unique differences that set them apart:


The role of the mentor is to build capability. The developmental mentor helps the learner discover their own wisdom by encouraging them to work towards career goals or develop self-reliance.

The Mentor Helps the Learner discover their wisdom.

The mentoring relationship is off-line — on both a personal and professional basis intertwined. Mentoring use to be focused on just career development/professional growth but has evolved to now include the personal growth elements. The mentor does not have authority over the mentee — and centres on the learner’s personal goals.

Because the relationship is mutually beneficial strong bonds are often forged and may extend the lifetime of the mentoring relationship both Professionally and Personally


The role of coaching tends to improve task and performance. The role of a skills or performance coach is to give feedback on observed performance. Consequently, coaching usually happens at the workplace.

The Coach Helps the Learner stay focused on key tasks to change their performance level.

The coaching relationship is more on-line — purely professional (unless a life coach) The Coach is likely to set or suggest goals for the learner; measuring performance periodically as the learner develops new skills. This needs a good working relationship between learner and coach.

If you attempt a Google search on coaching and mentoring, you will find varying definitions.  The above was pulled from both the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and the International Mentoring Community (IMC).

Coaching and Mentoring can be further defined with:


  • Ongoing relationship that can last for a long period of time


  • Relationship generally has a set duration


  • Can be more informal and meetings can take place as and when the mentee needs some advice, guidance or support


  • Generally more structured in nature and meetings are scheduled on a regular basis


  • More long-term and takes a broader view of the person


  • Short-term (sometimes time-bounded) and focused on specific development areas/issues


  • Mentor may be someone more experienced and qualified than the ‘mentee’. Often a senior person in the organization who can pass on knowledge, experience and open doors to otherwise out-of-reach opportunities. Because mentoring is a two way relationship age is not a factor nor is industry specific knowledge. External mentors may be used along with internal mentors.


  • Coaching is generally not performed on the basis that the coach needs to have direct experience of their client’s formal occupational role, unless the coaching is specific and skills-focused


  • Focus is on career and personal development with the emphasis on personal development first


  • Focus is generally on development/issues at work


  • Agenda is set by the mentee, with the mentor providing support and guidance to prepare them for future roles


  • The agenda is focused on achieving specific, immediate goals


  • Mentoring revolves more around developing the mentee on a personal and professional basis with the initial focus on the personal growth


  • Coaching revolves more around specific development areas/issues

We have a ways to go to properly educate the public to be able to clearly decipher what mentoring and coaching is, isn’t, and which is needed based on a unique set of circumstances.

The public has not caught on to what effective mentoring is. There is a paradigm shift that is focused on creating a deeper, richer understanding of the true business value of mentoring and how it can create positive change in individuals and organizations. This will increase productivity and retention rates, lower employee turnover and create an engaged, empowered and accountable workforce.

I have seen many cases and have consulted with organizations where the employee did not respond to coaching, but did respond favorably and quickly to the Mentoring Approach (a 7-Step Mentoring Process of the International Mentoring Community (IMC)).

When effective mentoring techniques are applied, the results are a deeper, richer mentoring experience that gets results.


Doug Lawrence is the founder of TalentC®.


Doug shows organizations how mentoring will encourage workforce culture to flow in harmony (mentors), improve productivity from employees (mentees), reducing costly employee onboarding improving the bottom line (organizations).

Doug is an International Certified Mentor Practitioner (ICMP), an International Certified Mentor Facilitator (ICMF), and has obtained his Certificate of Achievement – Mentoring and his Certificate of Competence – Mentor from the International Mentoring Community (IMC).

Doug is an international speaker and author about all facets of Mentoring. He published “The Gift of Mentoring” in 2014 with his second book set to publish in 2019.

Doug works with organizations to establish mentoring programs, influence mentoring as a culture, and provides one-on-one direct mentoring for individuals of all backgrounds and levels globally.

To contact Doug:



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