The difference between Coaching & Mentoring

Coaching V Mentoring
I am often asked, ‘What is the difference between Coaching & Mentoring’?
With many people struggling to identify the differences and commonalities, I thought it would make a good blog.
Isn’t it strange that when you go into a bookshop or type Coaching or Mentoring into your Amazon search what you find is lot’s of books with both Coaching & Mentoring in the title!
Lets start with the definitions and then move onto aspects, finishing with the grey area in between and what that means to you in practice.
“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance; helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” Timothy Gallwey (Inner Game of Tennis)
“Building awareness, responsibility and self-belief is the goal of a coach.” Sir John Whitmore
As a coach we are the facilitator, we help to create the environment where the coachee feels safe and secure, we build trust and establish Rapport. Our coachees feel able to explore, to experiment, reflect, question themselves, review their assumptions etc. We facilitate this with questioning, the use of silence, and giving feedback.
Our aim is to keep the contribution around 20% from us in the form of the above and 80% the coachees responses. This is very different to general conversation where we typically start to speak as soon as the other person stops, often autobiographically, bringing our similar experiences into the conversation, making comparisons and exchanging experiences.
By asking good questions we help the coachee to recover information about their problem or opportunity. We ask open questions that prompt the coachee to answer in a way other than a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, although there is a place for closed questions in bringing about decisions. Our questions assist the coachee to fully externalise verbally their representation of the situation. This process can often lead to change, possibly as the coachee re presents information to themselves, considers the information differently or from a different perspective.
Good questions are those that induce thought, a deeper recovery of information from the unconscious brain. They are questions that coachees may take time to answer as they think so it is important that we as coaches keep quiet. Just because our coachee is not talking does not mean to say they are not thinking!
Operating within a coaching model is useful to ensure the coachee makes progress. The GROW model developed by John Whitmore ensures that the coaching direction® is maintained starting with the establishment of the GOAL or Objective. Understanding the REALITY, what is currently going on is useful it serves as a recap for the coachee, questions aim to recover as much detail as possible. Once the coachee has clearly defined the GOAL and checked their understanding of the REALITY the questions move focus to generate OPTIONS. We cannot go on a journey (make progress) until we know where we are heading and where we are starting from!
The generation of multiple options is important. Coaching should always create choice not limit it!!
Once a number of options to achieve the GOAL have been identified and the coachee is happy they have thought of as many as is possible the questions move to making a decision. Choosing an option that is preferable to the coachee in achieving the GOAL.  This can be further tested using questions to establish the coachee level of motivation to turn the selection into tangible actions including timescales by testing using  WILL & WAY FORWARD type questions.
Coaching cards are a good way of practising the model and are available at in the form of Introduction to GROW. INTERMEDIATE GROW questions and ADVANCED GROW questions cards.
Overall successful coaching is witnessing the coachee discover specifically what they want, understand what is currently going on that may be preventing them from achieving their goal, generating a number of options and being prepared to select one and committing to take actions to achieve the goal. All without the interference of the coach but under their own newly discovered initiative.
The origin of Mentoring
Mentor was a person, odysseus’ friend and when Odysseus wen’t on his travels, he asked his best friend Mentor to look after his son Telemachus and to teach him and guide him while he was away.
Mentoring traditionally meant that someone with experience, possibly qualifications and certainly with knowledge and tried and tested skills is in a position to guide and advise someone with lesser skills and knowledge.
The mentor will have achievements acknowledged already and is often the person to turn to, to consult with, to check out with, the men tee may possibly be a junior member of staff, possibly just out of training or in the final stages of qualification.
As the mentor we are there to act as a sounding board for the men tee’s ideas, to advice on what we consider to be the best steps or actions in the circumstances. Solutions come form the mentor and in doing so the men tee adds to their learning. Of course there are potential limitations to pure mentoring. The growth of the men tee may be restricted to the level of skill and knowledge of the mentor, the relevance of the mentor’s knowledge in relation to the advancement of the subject. i.e. if the mentor is not keeping up their continuous professional development, (CPD)  then the value of their knowledge may be impeded and also handed onto the men tee.
The duration that the men tee stays with the same mentor. It may be advisable to have more than one mentor for differing aspects of the role or to the task. Critical is the awareness in the men tee of when a ceiling has been reached, at which point the men tee has either to decide if they require or would benefit from continuing mentorship or whether a change of mentor would benefit their future development.
So, back to the difference between coaching and mentoring.
Some reading this may already be asking where does sports coaching come into this? Good question. As to coach a sport one must have a good understanding of the game, have some degree of personal skill in order to demonstrate to others what you want them to master. So is sports coaching, coaching or mentoring? Or is it a bit of both? I would argue that it is a bit of both. The sports coach after all is not the one that puts in the performance. That is down to the athlete. However, they do know what needs to be done and can detect when it is and when it isn’t happening, they also know what needs to happen to correct it. The mentoring side, from there they usually employ coaching; they facilitate the opportunity for learning working with both the physical skills and the mental approach. You see most obstacles are inside the mind. If we believe for instance that something is going to be difficult then it usually manifests it’s self as just that.  If we have convinced ourselves that the way we are doing something is the only way, then we have closed our mind to the opportunity that there may another and better way. They achieve this through  practice feedback and challenge of the athlete through coaching style questons.
We can mentor with a coaching style in the workplace. We may posses the knowledge, experience and skills, and theses have no doubt, been demonstrated in our past and current results. So should we choose to assist the learning of others as a mentor by not just giving advice but to ask good questions, we aid there learning experience. Think about the things you have discovered for yourself, the knowledge you gained through trial through working out for yourself. Now think of all the great pieces of knowledge that people may have told you in your lifetime, how many have we remembered and how many times have we gone back to the way we have been doing it before?
A coaching style is universal, it can be applied so many things, we all coach without realising it. Whether it be as a Mother or Farther with our children, down the park on a Saturday morning on the football field, in work with members of our team or as the senior manager in the dept. or Div.
Below is a reading list that you may find useful, or you may wish to comment of ask a question based on the blog. Please feel free I am always interested in what you want to read and talk about.

Coaching for Performance John Whitmore
Techniques for Coaching & Mentoring Megginson & Clutterbuck
The Coaching Manual Julie Star
Mentoring in action Megginson & Clutterbuck

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