March 10, 2020

What is the difference between Coaching, Mentoring, and Reverse Mentoring?

Doug Lawrence

I am asked on numerous occasions to respond to questions regarding mentoring, mentoring process and how mentoring can bring value to individuals and/or organizations. Here is a question I received recently and my response.

What is the difference between Coaching, Mentoring, and Reverse Mentoring?

Mentoring: Ongoing relationship that can last for a long period of time

Coaching: Relationship generally has a set duration

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

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

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

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

Mentoring: Mentor may be more experienced and qualified than the ‘mentee’ but does not have to be. It is a two way trusted relationship. May be a senior person in the organization who can pass on knowledge, experience and open doors to otherwise out-of-reach opportunities. Mentoring is about guiding the mentee to the answers not telling. Industry experience is a nice to have not a need to have.

Coaching: 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

Mentoring: Focus is on career and personal development

Coaching: Focus is generally on development/issues at work

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

Coaching: The agenda is focused on achieving specific, immediate goals

Mentoring: Mentoring resolves more around developing the mentee professionally and personally. Focus initially should be on the personal development.

Coaching: Coaching revolves more around specific development areas/issues

Reverse Mentoring: Has been a term used to describe a younger person mentoring a much older person. (Mentoring in the use of technology when the mentor is a much older and technology challenged). This is an outdated terminology as mentoring is described now as a two way trusted relationship where the mentor and mentee will learn and grow together on a personal and professional basis.


Doug Lawrence is the founder of TalentC® and the co-founder of the International Mentoring Community (IMC).

Doug Lawrence leads organizations to experience 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’s Practice of Mentoring has resulted in his accumulation of 1,970 hours of mentoring (in person and virtual), 197 hours of speaking opportunities and 672 hours teaching others how to effectively mentor.

Doug is a volunteer mentor with the Sir Richard Branson Entrepreneur Program in the Caribbean and with the American Corporate Partners in the United States working with military personnel in their transition from military life to civilian life. Doug is currently working with researchers to examine the role of mentoring as a support for those struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). His experience in law enforcement coupled with working with people suffering from PTSD has afforded him a unique view of mentoring and PTSD.

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 2020.

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.

Contact Doug directly to discover how mentoring can improve your organization.



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