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Coaching and Mentoring


I'm just writing a report and wanted to put in a section about coaching and mentoring, and just wondered if anyone had any ideas about the differences between the two?
sarah burgess

10 Responses

  1. teacher/mentor/coach
    A teacher gives instructions.

    A mentor gives advice.

    A coach asks questions.

    The most important differentiator a coach has is the recognition that providing solutions, advice, suggestions or answers actually doesn’t help very much.


    1. The answers I give will be my answers, not yours. So whilst the answers may be right for me, they may not be right for you.

    2. If I give you the answers you won’t go through the process of finding a solution yourself. Real learning comes from the problem solving process, not the answer itself. There are usually many answers that will work. The trick in coaching is to help people work out a methodology that helps them find the answer that works for them

    As the old proverb says, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. teach him to fish and you feed his family for a lifetime”. Giving an answer will solve their immediate problem. Giving them questions will help them develop their problem solving process and so help them address future issues as well.

    The trick then is to know what questions to ask!

    One of the most useful approaches I have found is that taken by Peter Freeth on his site. Whilst it is not the only approach, I have had very positive experiences using it.

    You will note that this response is not ‘coaching’!!


  2. Workplace Coaching and Mentoring
    “A teacher gives instructions.

    A mentor gives advice.

    A coach asks questions.”

    In a workplace learning and development setting, do you see the mentor’s role as simply “giving advice”?

    As definitions of “mentor” tend to include all three roles (i.e. teacher, advisor, coach), I’d suggest that “mentoring” might be more accurately described as a broad approach to supporting someone’s long-term development. In sponsored or organized workplace mentoring programs, yesterday’s “sage on the stage” is being superseded by a “guide on the side.”

    As defined by the learner’s expectations or the sponsoring organization’s needs, workplace mentoring might include any or all of the following dimensions:

    (A trusted confidant; source of moral or psychological support)

    (A respected insider, guardian or advocate; helps learners understand organizational realities, culture or politics)

    (A catalyst for individual development; guides, supports or models long-term personal growth and professional development)

    As discussed earlier in this thread, workplace coaches rely on observations and questions to help a learner to recognise a need to improve performance or develop new skills, then establish goals or agree plans to achieve these. While the techniques may be similar to those used in counselling or mentoring, I would see the workplace coach as someone who takes a more proactive, focused, structured approach to helping learners achieve their goals.

    At last summer’s ASTD Conference, Dr. Linda Phillips-Jones of The Mentoring Group offered an unforgettable description of the difference between mentoring and coaching:

    Andre Agassi has as his spiritual mentor the Dali Lama. But he probably gets coaching for his tennis game from someone else.

  3. Thank you!
    Thanks very much David and Scott for answering my first question on training zone! Really helpful answers.

  4. Read the book of Margo Murray
    Would be interesting to you to read the book Margo Murray wrote on “Beyond the Myths and Magic of Mentoring”
    She will be the keynote speaker at the Canadian Mentoring Conference 4 – 6 of March 2004 in Toronto Canada

  5. contact Truls Engström
    Truls Engström is now in the final phase of his PhD study on Mentoring. Perhaps he can give some advise.
    If needed ask me for the e-mail address.

  6. Scottish Executive
    The scheme we are developing here at the Scottish Executive has the following distinction:

    * Coaching focuses on achieving specific objectives usually within a preferred time period
    * Mentoring – follows an open and evolving agenda and deals with a range of issues

    Additionally, you could say it is ‘Help by somone who listens objectively and unconditionally, facilitates mentees in working out the best course of action and then helps reflect on the outcome’.

    It’s outside the normal outside the normal manager/subordinate relationship as it would be very difficult indeed to have unconditional an confidential listening from someone who is responsible for your performance appraisal!

    Finally: a mentor and a coach is a TRANSITIONAL figure in an individual’s development, someone who develops independence not dependence.

  7. Coaching. Know How?
    I think that a coach needs to have some experience or expertise in the topic s/he is coaching on.
    A mentor might be somewhat akin to a minor; digging for gold by sifting through the mud i.e. starting from an assumption that the mentee has vast and wonderful potential to be disclosed (to self and others).

    The expertise that the coach brings may be about a specific, e.g. tennis, or more general, e.g. Life.

    I teach mentoring skills to managers in organisations, members of the public to mentor young offendors, and teenagers in schools to become peer mentors.
    During the training sessions As they discover their unexpected limitations I coach people in the art and science of listening, questioning, patience, caring connections, understanding non-verbal cues and clues, etc.

    I also mentor each individual as they recognise they are swimming in mud where they anticipated clear blue water, and encourage them to develop more of their extraordinary potential.

  8. What kind of coach?
    I’m answering this question only because I think Michael Mallows’ answer raises an interesting confusion.

    The term “coach”, in business, has become widely associated with “coach” as in sports – mainly, it seems, because so many business coaches were originally sports coaches.

    But a sports coach is actually the equivalent, in business, of a “trainer”, NOT a “coach”. Which is why I’m going to suggest that Michael’s definition is invalid.

    My *personal* view is that a mentor, as in the original context, is an “old hand” who passes on practical information that smoothes the way for someone less experienced.
    On this basis a mentor must not only have solid practical knowledge and experience, but it must be in the specific context that the mentee is now working in.
    (There’s not much point in knowing that the true “power behind the throne” at Carboy’s Glassworks is “Old Neville” if you (the mentee) are working for Gnighton Pharmaceutical and have nothing whatever to do with Carboy’s Glassworks.)

    Thus a mentor adds knowledge that the mentee, through lack of experience, cannot add for him or herself.

    A *business* coach, on the other hand, I suggest is someone who “draws out” (i.e. “educates”, in its original sense) the coachee’s existing ideas, intuitions, etc. to aid in their development. The most effective way of doing this, in most cases, as previous respondants have said, is by skillful questioning and by carefully calculated feedback.

    Well, that’s how *I* see it


    Be well

    Andy B.


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