Coaching and Mentoring: How can you ensure it’s effective?

“A coach has some great questions for your answers; a mentor has some great answers for your questions” [1].

There is a major difference between a coach and a mentor, which isn’t always that obvious! They don’t cover the same scope of learning, progress is achieved in totally different ways. Coaching and mentoring and two different development techniques, delivered on a one to one basis, designed to enhance the receiver’s skills, knowledge and performance [2]. However, it isn’t just restricted to those elements, coaching and mentoring could cover something as simple as confidence boosting.

David Clutterbuck describes a mentor as being a more experienced individual willing to share their knowledge with someone less experienced in a relationship of mutual trust [3]. Mentoring is more about the willingness to share knowledge and developing mutual learning and understanding personal progress.

Figures suggest that 70% of small businesses that receive mentoring survive for five years or more, with many of those small businesses seeking mentors that possess expertise in areas such as finance, sales and marketing, public relations and strategy and planning [4]. It’s most likely small organisations don’t have the capabilities and resources in these areas so require access to someone that does. Hart discusses ways in which to be an effective mentor, in which he cites motivating and inspiring as an important part of the process; mentors need to support, validate and encourage their mentees, helping them link their goals to those of the organisation can allow them to become more engaged. He also states the ability to develop and manage the relationship as vital, with the onus being on the mentor to ready themselves to build a relationship with their mentee and continuing to work on it [5]. Coaches often have expertise in the same field as the people they’re helping and they’re usually trained and certified as coaches, possessing strong process management skills and often brought in to help CEO’s or entrepreneurs anticipate and tackle specific industry challenges [6].

Coaching, however, is described as focussing on task and performance. A coach is likely to set goals for learner and this is how their performance over the coaching period will be measured [3]. This indicates it’s much more of a teacher and student relationship and differs completely to mentoring in terms of the reasons for participation and end achievements and progress is monitored for explicit reasons.

The Executive Coaching Survey 2010, conducted by the Conference Board at cited in Forbes found that 63% of organisations use internal coaching and at least half of the rest intend to. But coaching is still only a small element of the job description for most managers, with nearly half spending less than 10% of their time coaching others [7].

The Forbes article also discusses skills managers need to be able to effectively coach. Organisations are starting to realise just how important and they are seeking the ability to coach and develop others in all their managers, but not all managers know how to make coaching effective. Like mentoring, coaching places emphasis on building the relationship, stating that it’s easier to learn from someone you trust, so it’s the responsibility of the coach to ensure they establish that trust. Also, as coaching focusses on learning and reaching an end goal the coach needs to be supportive and encouraging; listen without being judgemental and ensure they encourage and recognise the receiver’s successes [7].

I love learning, whether it be gaining new skills or understanding new processes, anything that involves developing myself, but what I enjoy the most about that is being able to then develop others, passing along my knowledge and understanding and seeing how it benefits and furthers others. I’m not sure I like the idea of being a coach, it seems too regimented, by its definition it’s almost saying you possess more skill and knowledge than the person you are coaching. However, I love the idea of mentoring, building a relationship with others where you can help them build on their knowledge and experience. Hopefully once I have been able to gain more experience throughout my career I will have the opportunity to partake in a mentoring scheme.



[1] Brefi Group. (2015). Coaching and mentoring – the difference. Retrieved from Brefi Group:

[2] CIPD. (2017). Coaching and mentoring. Retrieved from CIPD:

[3] Webster, M. (2017). The Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring. Retrieved from Leadership Thoughts:

[4] Dunnett, R. (2012). Mentoring Matters. ProQuest Central, 50-53.

[5] Wanye Hart, E. (2010, June 30). Seven Ways To Be An Effective Mentor. Retrieved from Forbes:

[6] Richards, K. (2015, October 2015). What’s the Difference Between a Coach and a Mentor? Retrieved from Forbes:

[7] Frankovelgia, C. (2010, April 28). The Key To Effective Coaching. Retrieved from Forbes:


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