Coaches and mentors perform very different functions in the development of the people they help. Their responsibilities overlap, because both are concerned with another’s development. But leaders must recognize the significant differences between coaching and mentoring in order to get the most out of each.
Since both, when executed well, profoundly benefit your employees and your organization’s bottom line, it’s important to understand each and provide both. In the graph seen here, I’ve illustrated how coaching and mentoring each contribute to High Commitment and High Performance.
Coaching addresses performance. It involves helping coachees develop the skills necessary to reach specific goals. A coach observes objectively, evaluates without judgment, questions, directs, reinforces proper performance, and redirects inadequate performance.
A coaching relationship lasts for as long as it may be required to help someone reach a specific point in their development. Coaches must thoroughly command the skills they aim to develop in the coachee, whether they are enhancing already present skills helping their learners acquire new skills.
Mentoring deals with long-term development. Mentors help others find and discover their own paths. Mentors never provide solutions, but rather guide their mentees toward them. Most often this involves dedicated, long-term commitment in order to develop deep trust, thorough understanding, and to ensure continuity.
The mentoring relationship is obviously profoundly personal. The mentor provide a safe environment in which the mentee feels safe and free to share whatever issues affect his or her professional and personal success.
When combined, the power of coaching and mentoring drives High Commitment and High Performance. The second result is easier to understand. Action-focused, skill-building coaching improves performance in obvious ways.
Mentoring speaks to the deepest personal needs, hopes, and dreams of an individual. When an employee’s aspirations align with the work they do, when they can do what they love to do in their everyday responsibilities, and when they see the progress they make contributing to their own success, the success of the organization, and of the world—then mentoring has done its job.
And when all this happens, employees grow in self-confidence, self-esteem, and enthusiastically commit to what they do every day.
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