Learn the differences between a coach and a mentor. Plus, get insight into what you should consider when choosing between a coach and a mentor.
- Ask 10 people to explain the difference between a coach and a mentor, and you'll most likely get 10 different answers. However, most would agree that they're not one in the same. Here are some of the key differences. A mentor is usually much higher up in an organization than the mentee. Although, there is such a thing as reverse mentoring, where someone with a particular set of skills may help someone more senior to them, master these skills. It's also important to note that many will be better served by a mentor who's only one or two levels above, rather than the most senior member, as this person will be more approachable and their experience will be more relatable.
A mentor may be in a role that the person aspires to be in someday, and may work in the same organization or in another organization. Most are usually not compensated for taking on this role. Lastly, when it comes to mentoring, the mentee is the person who drives the relationship. A coach works with their clients on mutually agreed upon objectives, and holds them accountable. They help their clients see blind spots that may be preventing them from achieving their full potential, and push them to achieve their personal best.
Some companies have a stable of internal coaches on the payroll, while others bring in outside executive coaches who are compensated for their services. And lastly, in a coaching relationship, the coach is the person who proactively drives the relationship. Now that you know the differences between a mentor and a coach, let's look at some situations where one might be a better resource than the other, in terms of developing your managers. Start by thinking about what you hope your managers will gain as a result of working with a coach or a mentor.
Once you've answered this question, you'll know which direction to move toward. For example, are there particular behavioral changes you'd like to see this person make, so they can become a better leader? If so, then you'll be on the lookout for a coach who can work by their side to help them achieve these changes. Whereas if you're looking to get more women interested in working in a field that is male dominated, you'll most likely look for a mentor who can provide advice as to what's required in order to succeed in what may be unfamiliar territory.
Next, you're going to want to find the right coach or mentor. To determine this, consider these four factors. First, you're going to want to find someone whose experience makes the grade. You want someone with a track record. Ask a trusted colleague for a recommendation. Next, you're going to want to make sure the style of the coach or mentor will match up well with the person who you are seeking to help. It's important to note that sometimes the best fit isn't necessarily someone who might become this person's lifelong friend, especially in circumstances where a bit of tough love is really what is needed.
The next factor to consider is if this person has helped others in similar situations. I don't know about you, but I don't want to jump out of a plane with someone who hasn't taught others how to do this at least a dozen times. And I want to be sure all of these people had a safe landing. And the last factor, which is also a very important factor, is whether or not this person is available. Finding a wonderful coach or mentor won't do you much good if he or she isn't available.
Before entering into a relationship, clearly define your needs, and ask the person whether or not your expectations are realistic given his or her other commitments. As you look to support the growth and development of your people, make sure you are really clear on the objectives you are trying to help them achieve. You'll be well on your way to helping your managers connect with the right source at the right time.
- What makes a manager effective?
- What managers seek from their employers
- Coaching versus mentoring
- Determining whether to use internal or external resources
- Helping managers take control of their learning
- Creating a management training strategy
- Measuring the effectiveness of your program
- Avoiding common management development mistakes