Coaching And Mentoring Are Not The Same

Though some people insist they’re more or less equals, coaching and mentoring are not the same. Coaching is about accomplishing tasks within the confines of the arena or workplace. Mentoring is about cultivating relationships that exist within the workplace, and well beyond.

Coaching is primarily a one-way relationship. The coach instructs and evaluates people, based on knowledge they’ve acquired. The coach/player relationship changes little, if at all, as long as they are on the same team. If they meet outside the workplace, the coach/player relationship is still in place. The coach/player relationship has space and time limits; you can have a different coach for each skill you need or want, and move on to another. A coach is concerned with helping you master a particular skill but may not tie that skill to other aspects of your personal or professional life that may affect or be affected by it.

Great workers need great coaching. (iStock photo)

Great workers need great coaching and mentoring. (iStock photo)

Mentoring, on the other hand, is a two-way relationship, not necessarily bound by time or to a particular place. The mentor shares her or his accumulated wisdom and gives guidance and support to the protégé. The mentor doesn’t limit their wisdom and advice to one particular aspect of the protégé’s business – they understand how nothing exists in a vacuum. Every action and event, no matter how small it may seem at the time, has a direct or indirect effect on countless others. The mentor, therefore, deals with the whole protégé – spirituality, ethics, mental and physical makeup, and so on.

The mentor-protégé relationship evolves as the protégé acquires wisdom and balance. The nature of communication between the mentor and protégé continually changes. In fact, the mentor can become the protégé.

A coach helps you achieve specific short-term goals. When you reach those goals, that coach (or another one) sets new goals for you. A mentor helps with your long-term development as a total individual. Your goals as a protégé are not concrete but are somewhat general. As a protégé, your goals include growth, change, and continual improvement.

There are times when we need a coach and there are times – most of the time, actually – when we could use a mentor.

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Q9C can be your business coach, your mentor, or both. The choice is yours. Call or write us today!


We help small businesses improve their efficiency and effectiveness. Whether you're selling a product or a service, we'll show you how you can improve product and service quality, effectively and affordably. If you need quality, environmental, or health & safety management but can't afford a full-time manager or staff, call on Q9C and we'll pick up the slack. For information or a quote, call or write. Subscribe to the Q9C blog while you're at it.

Posted in change, coaching, mentoring, Quality improvement

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