How the Differences in Coaching and Mentoring Can Benefit Your Organization

August 19, 2019

Before a talent development program is fully implemented, there are a few important steps to take. This includes deciding what type of program to start. Some options include mentoring programs or coaching programs.

Are you wondering what the difference is between coaching and mentoring? You are not alone.

The terms “coaching” and “mentoring” are often used interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing and both programs serve different purposes. So, what is the difference between coaching and mentoring? And how can each benefit your organization?

What is Coaching?

Coaching involves a relationship between a professionally trained coach and an employee. The employee is often referred to as the coachee, and as such usually requires help with specific career development or performance goals. The coach will provide the coachee with specific directions that will result in achievement of these goals.

A situation in which coaching is a great solution is sudden vacancy in executive-level positions. An immediate need to fill a C-Suite position can be remedied with a goal-driven coach. The coach will be able to prepare an employee in specific areas required for the promotion. Leadership development will take place within a fast-paced, goal-oriented relationship.

What is Mentoring?

Mentoring involves a partnership between a mentor and mentee, both of which are usually internal employees. The mentor has experience or knowledge that the mentee wants to learn from. This means the mentor acts as a guide, sharing experiences the mentee needs in order to further their career.

In a situation where an executive-level position will become available in a year or two, mentoring would be an excellent option to groom the successor. The mentor could possibly be the exec that will be leaving, and learning could take place over time through experience. Leadership development is still taking place, but at a slower pace.

The Differences Between Coaching and Mentoring

Mentoring and coaching sound similar, and they are. However, there are a few key differences in the two relationships. Coaching is a short-term tool utilized when there is a specific task or action that needs completion. Mentoring is more of a long-term relationship that is driven by a mutual goal set at the beginning.

Coaching is usually coach-driven with a targeted goal in mind and a set timeline. The participating coaches are usually paid and often from a third-party source. Mentoring is mentee driven and mentor guided. Both parties are volunteers, and the relationship is often on a flexible timeline.

The focus of mentorships is often on career development and business goals. Coaches are there to increase productivity and job performance. Coaches are focused on development now, while mentors are more focused on future career paths and long-term development.

The style of mentoring relationships is more listening, adapting, and steering in the right direction. Coaching is more direct, seeking immediate results and appropriate feedback for the as-needed relationship.

Mentoring Program Differentiators

  1. The mentor is guiding the mentee through their career path, but the relationship is mentee-driven.
  2. Mentoring can be used by all levels in an organization. There is a broad pool of participants available.
  3. Mentees often select their own mentor match based on mentor profiles and competencies.
  4. Mentoring is not a full-time job for the mentor. This is not to say, however, that mentor training and role descriptions should be bypassed.
  5. Mentors and mentees usually belong to the same organization.
  6. Because the mentor is usually a volunteer, mentoring can be a more cost-effective solution.

Coaching Program Differentiators

  1. The coach is imparting specific skills and knowledge to the coachee.
  2. Coaching programs tend to be targeted towards leaders and high-potentials. This limits the pool of participants.
  3. Coaches are usually assigned to specific coachees based on the skills the coachee needs to develop.
  4. Because coaching is often their full-time job, coaches are trained for their position.
  5. Coaching are typically not part of the same organization as the coachee.
  6. Coaching programs typically cost more than mentoring programs because the coach is not a volunteer.

Coaching and Mentoring Benefits

Both mentoring and coaching serve a specific purpose to an organization in one way or another. They both impact employee efficiency and profitability, and in turn the ROI, for the organization.

However, because they are different, mentoring and coaching can be integrated into one program. This allows your organization to run both mentorships and coaching relationships through the same software.

When you facilitate both coaches and mentors, you have the ability to tailor the employee development to specific employees. This model could even host coachees that then become mentors, facilitating the trickle-down effect. There are a few more benefits of an integrated coaching and mentoring program…

  1. Efficient development options for quick executive turnover
  2. Long-term relationship availability for continued career development
  3. Ability to host a large-scale talent development program
  4. Knowledge transfer on an organizational level
  5. New ideas facilitated with external coaches and internal mentors


Insala offers mentoring consulting services to further differentiate between coaching and mentoring. To learn more about talent development options or start a program today, please request a demo.

Related Articles:

Learn more about Insala's
Free Webinars

Watch Webinars