The Difference Between Coaching And Mentoring

CRS 38 | Coaching And Mentoring


People today are interested in personal development. However, some people don’t know how to go about setting up this development process that there is some confusion in distinguishing between coaching and mentoring. Although there are some similarities, there’s a difference between the two. Which is considered short term? How about the long term? Carolyn breaks down the difference between the two as well as how you can find a good mentor.

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The Difference Between Coaching And Mentoring

We keep getting busier and busier. I like being busy. I can’t stand when I don’t have five things going on at once. I’m a bit crazy, but I already know that. My oldest daughter turned 31. Happy birthday, Gabi, my girl. It was on February 28th. I remember the day that she was born. It was a leap year. I didn’t want a leap year baby. I went into labor on the 27th and it seemed to take forever. I remember saying to the doctor that this baby better be out before leap year because I didn’t want to have a leap year baby. She was born, but only with a few hours to spare. It was at 8:00 PM. I did not get a leap year baby, which is great. It’s funny when I asked her. She said she would like to have been a leap year baby. I felt like she would miss having that real date every year so I didn’t want it. It didn’t matter because she wasn’t one. To each his own. Not only was it her birthday, but it was her bachelorette weekend. When I got married, you had this small bachelorette party for one night. These days, the party seems to last for five days. I grew up in the wrong era because I’m a party girl. I wish I was born now. It’s a special day as well because it’s my son’s 25th birthday. Happy birthday, JJ. Just because my kids are getting older, it doesn’t mean that I have to. I am in denial. Aren’t we all? It’s also my brother’s anniversary, happy anniversary to my bro. Now I got all of those celebrations said and out of the way.

We talked about vitality, what it takes to live and continue to develop throughout your life. How do we keep our minds sharp and our bodies healthy? That is a specific mindset. I referenced people that were well into their 90s and what they all had in common. They all kept themselves busy every single day. That’s why I want to be busy. Five things going on is the minimum. They all loved what they do. They focused on the things that made them happy. They laughed. They had fun. They maintained these long relationships with people. They continued to push themselves every single day to keep on moving. They all mentioned movement as a key. The more you move, the more you can move. I love those stories of these people that are well into their 90s and can run a 5K. That’s who I want to be. The more you move, the more you can move. I truly believe that all of those things help keep you young. They help keep us engaged in living life. For more information, go to iTunes or iHeartRadio or Spotify. Type in The Carolyn Rivera Show and download Episode 37: The Secret Sauce to Vitality. It’s up there. It’s ready. You can hear more about all those people well into their 90s who are living the dream every single day.

Coaching Is About Skills And Knowledge

We’re going to talk about something different. I was talking to a few people. There is some confusion out there in understanding the difference between coaching and mentoring. Some people use those two words interchangeably. Although there are some similarities, there’s a difference between the two. Since there is this bit of confusion out there, I thought I would break it down for you. I did some research on the topic, the differences between coaching and mentoring. Both coaching and mentoring are necessary. They’re both linked to development. You can think of coaching and mentoring both in the business world or you can think of it in your own personal life as well. The first thing to do is to define each. Let’s start with coaching. Think about coaching like this. Coaching is all about skills and knowledge. You’re building skills that maybe you don’t have now or you’re enhancing the skills that you already have now.

If employees are happier at work, they're less likely to leave. Click To Tweet

Think of a sport. I always use sports as an example because I’m a sporty girl for one, but I feel like everyone can relate to sports, whether you’re watching it on TV. Most people know about specific sports. Since I spent many years on a soccer field, I’m going to use soccer as my example. Let’s say you’re on a soccer team and you’re learning how to dribble the ball. Your coach is teaching you the step-by-step approach to what you need to do to dribble the ball down the field, no hands, just using your feet. Whether you’re dribbling for the first time or you know a little bit about how to dribble and you’re learning a difference on maybe how to keep more control or maybe had to get down the field quicker from your coach. What they’re doing for you is they’re giving you that step by step task-oriented approach to making that happen.

Mentoring Is About Transformation

Mentoring is a little different. Mentoring is all about this idea of transformation. A mentor is someone who is outside your normal chain of command. They’re not involved in your day-to-day. Mentors have the power to hold a mirror to you. They let you see things from a different side, from a different point of view. They tell you the things that they see from their angle that may be different from what you see because they’re coming in from a different place. They didn’t necessarily witness it or witness what they saw you do per se. It’s a little bit of a difference there. A mentor is built from relationships. This mentor is somebody that you connect with. The confusion comes in because there may be times when a mentor does, in fact, help you improve a skill. They may act as a coach, but a coach does not act as a mentor. Mentoring is all about the relationship, while coaching is functional because it’s focused specifically on the skill.

There are other significant differences as well. When you think about coaching and mentoring, ask yourself these few questions. Have I had a coach? Have I had a mentor? What does that look like to me? Perception is reality. You have to determine whether or not you have felt or been turned on to anyone who has given you that type of guidance. When we think about this, we’re going to break it down step by step individually. Let’s start with coaching. There are all different types of coaches. There are business coaches. There are personal life coaches. There are love coaches. There are executive coaches. For our purposes, I’m going to be talking about those that are in a business setting. When I use the word coaching, I want you to think of it more as a coach that is in a business setting. I’m going to talk more in detail about what are the differences between coaching, business coaching, and mentoring.

CRS 38 | Coaching And Mentoring
Coaching And Mentoring: Mentors may act as a coach, but a coach does not work as a mentor.


The Purpose Of Coaching

If you’re working in the business world, managers coach their staff as part of their job or they’re supposed to. The statistics show that it doesn’t happen as frequently as it should. Those companies that excel have coaching built into their processes. They hold their managers accountable for the coaching practice. Unfortunately, what we find is that it doesn’t happen in all organizations. What’s the purpose of coaching? What are the outcomes that you’re looking for when you coach someone? You can break it down into four things. The first thing is you’re looking to assess the individual’s potential. As a coach, you’re identifying the capability of your people. You’re looking at, “What is their propensity to learn? What is their current level of knowledge? What is their ability to increase that knowledge? If you give them more, how much more can you give them before they’re overloaded?”

The second thing that you’re looking at is how to maximize their performance, how to get the most out of what they do. A coach helps their employees acquire and develop skills. We talked about either developing new skills or enhancing the skills that they have now. The last thing that a coach does is they identify what things are going wrong and they work within that. They facilitate these opportunities for development. We’re going to talk about each of these things separately. Coaching happens at the office or on the job. It’s a formal process. They observe you as you’re doing your job. They see how you’re performing the tasks. They’re taking notes as they watch you. They’re looking for the step by step of how you’re doing your job to ensure that you’re doing it in the most effective and efficient way possible. Their role is to help you develop or enhance your skills as it relates to your current job. They’re looking at the skills that you have. They’re also looking for areas that you’re doing well in so that they can show you what you’re doing well and you can feel good about that and keep doing those things. They’re also looking for the areas that you need to improve upon so that they can help you to gain the skills in those areas that you need help with. It’s directly linked to ensuring that you have the skills that you need to do your job effectively in your current role.

Coaching Is Short-Term

Coaching is initiated by the manager. It only takes place with that specific person as long as you report to that manager. The coaching relationship will end, for example, if you leave that department or if you leave that company. That coaching relationship is linked directly to that specific job that you’re doing and to a specific goal within the company. You can think of it more as short-term. By design, it’s short-term because, theoretically, you’re not going to be doing that same exact job working for that same person for the rest of your life. When you’re hired, you’re expected to be able to do your job. You’re hired to perform specific tasks. If there’s one aspect of your job that you’re not performing well, that’s okay. Your manager will coach you on that specific skill or knowledge. After a period of time, if you’re unable to perform the tasks required for that specific job, the coaching will end and you’re probably not going to be able to stay within that role. That’s what we mean by short-term.

In coaching, the goal is for the individual to ultimately develop greater expertise in their role. Click To Tweet

Coaching, to be fully effective, takes into account more of a holistic view. Think of it more as you’re gaining insight from all the people around you, whether it be your peers, your boss. If you manage people and you have your own subordinates, you’re going to gain insight from all of those people. Your coach will have this full view of how you operate in your role every single day. The feedback that you get back is by your direct manager, the person who is responsible for the performance that you have within your organization. Coaching focuses on business and performance issues only. It does not get into personal, except in those instances where you could hire a life coach. That’s not what we’re focusing on. In coaching, the goal is for the individual to ultimately develop greater expertise in their role, in their current job. The one thing that I do want to bring up is there are at times when a coachee, the individual, may feel a little bit uncomfortable bringing up to your coach when things are not going so well. I’m going to give you an example of that.

Back in the day, I had a boss. I went to them and I had this discussion. I was telling them about a specific problem that I was having with a peer of mine. I felt comfortable divulging that information. This was my boss. He was my manager. What I found was after I had divulged that information it got back and was placed on my performance review. That taught me a big lesson at that time, which was it’s not always as clean as you can tell your boss anything. They have the power to place that on your performance review, to hold that against you. Even though you were going to him to ask for some help in dealing with somebody who was, maybe in your eyes, not treating you the way that you needed to be treated. When you think about coaching, there is this bit of a risk. You absolutely do have to build trust within each other. What I learned after that experience was with that guy, with that boss I no longer told him everything or anything that I felt uncomfortable about. That becomes a bit of an issue. That’s why when we talk more about mentoring, we’ll talk more about how you can choose a mentor to help you through those rough times.

Mentoring Is Long-Term

Mentoring is not your manager. You don’t have your mentor in your direct chain of command. They’re outside of your day-to-day job. Mentoring takes place as a result of a discussion between two people. They both agree and they’re both willing to take on and build this relationship. A mentor is selected based on the relationship that they have, the experience that they have. It’s more of a long-term relationship. It is not linked to a specific job. It’s not just a work relationship. It can be personal as well. The mentoring timeframe does vary based on the people involved, but the focus is more of a full career view versus one specific role. It’s not tied to one specific job function or goal within that organization. It’s more of a long-term career-oriented development opportunity. The whole concept of mentoring is all about personal development. It goes beyond skill building for a specific role. What differentiates coaching versus mentoring is exactly the example that I gave you. The discussions are much more open about issues that the person is having. The person is not concerned with telling their mentor what they’re struggling with. There’s no personal relationship. There’s no performance management process linked to that relationship. When you think of it that way, there’s no downside for them to worry about, providing you find the right mentor.

CRS 38 | Coaching And Mentoring
Coaching And Mentoring: A mentor’s job is not to provide all the answers but to get you to learn those answers on your own.


Mentoring Must Have A Purpose

Mentoring is all about growth, but mentoring must have a purpose. It’s just not about getting together, have a cup of coffee. There’s got to be a specific outline that you put together to identify what the goals of the discussions are, even if you have a mentor at work outside of your department. You could find somebody in a larger organization that is outside your chain of command that you have a mentor-mentee relationship with. The key there is it must be totally confidential. When you find the right mentor, the mentor that you choose must make sure that they are your confidant. They are not going to be telling anybody within the organization what you two speak about. That’s trust level that’s built up between the two of you. You feel comfortable based on the confidence that you have in them. If they do tell somebody, then their credibility is destroyed and the relationship is destroyed. You have to select the right person.

Mentors Can Be Game Changers

When you think about a mentor, I want you to think of it this way. A mentor guides the learning process through these thought-provoking methods versus providing all the answers. Their job is not to provide all the answers. Their job is to get you to learn those answers on your own. They inspire and build confidence within the individual they’re working with. I have been blessed because I have had a lifelong mentor. I’ve had a few, but the one in particular, she has been mentoring me for many years. I have been able to reach new heights because of the discussions that we’ve had and the support that she’s given. Mentors can be game changers, people who you can tell anything to, people who won’t judge you for not being perfect, people who you can trust, and that they have your best interests in mind. Not because they’ve given you all the answers but because they’ve made you think of them yourself.

The key is that mentors don’t come to you. You have to go seek them out. That relationship is your job. Not everyone operates the same way. You need to find somebody that you feel comfortable with, that you can work with, a mentor that challenges you to be better, to learn more, to take risks. Those are the things that you should be looking for as we talk more about what to do. What skills do you have to have to be a good mentor? They’re some of the same skills that we talked about way back like communication skills. Those are non-negotiable. You must be able to listen effectively. You’ve got to be able to focus on the person that you’re trying to help develop. You must have the empathy to understand what they’re going through and be able to encourage them through those rough patches. That’s what you’re there for. You must be able to draw the line of taking over. This is the key. You don’t want a mentor who is going to take control and provide you with everything. Most of us want to solve problems. We feel good when we can fix something for somebody else. The role of the mentor is the exact opposite of that. You’re not the problem solver. In this instance, you’re helping the person solve their own problem. That’s what a true mentor does.

Mentoring is all about growth, but mentoring must have a purpose. Click To Tweet

We’ve talked about coaching. We’ve talked about mentoring. We said that mentoring is longer term. It’s a full relationship. They help you see the end game. They don’t give you the roadmap to get there. They provide you with inspiration and encouragement. Coaching is linked to a specific job. In that specific job, that coach is also helping you to become more effective and efficient. Why would organizations want to have such programs in their organization? A survey was conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management. They interviewed 880 employees. The survey shows that more than 25% said they plan to change jobs within the next twelve months. That’s a potential attrition rate of 2.5 times greater than a few years earlier. 64% said that their current employment experiences have little to no development, have little to no impact on their development. That’s why they’re dissatisfied.

People now are interested in development. Some people don’t know how to go about setting up this development process. Companies have to help people through that. People are all interested in personal development. Sometimes we don’t know where to go or how to go about it. Those companies that put these programs in place are the game changer companies, are the ones that people want to work for. The benefit to the company for putting these programs in place is employee behavior changes. Employees are less loyal now than they were years ago. Back in the day, it was common for somebody to work for the same company for 30 years. In the environment nowadays, the average number of years of tenure is between three and five. That’s a far cry from 30 years.

My real first job, I was with the company for eighteen years. That’s virtually unheard of nowadays. Employees are focused on this work-life balance. In the past, the job would take control. It’s shifted. Employees want a job that they like, not just for a paycheck. If employees are happier at work, they’re less likely to leave. It costs a lot of money to hire new employees and to train them, and the length of time that it takes to gain proficiency in their job. Companies should focus on putting these programs in place so that employees are happy, so that employees feel like they matter. They feel like the company cares about them. They feel like they’re being developed. I’m going to break down the things you need to know to find a mentor for yourself.

What I have found over the past years of working with all different types of organizations are sometimes coaching is misinterpreted. People think that because they’re having these one-on-ones with their employees that it constitutes coaching. That’s not coaching. Coaching is a formal process. It’s focused on improving skill or knowledge. Having a meeting with an employee doesn’t cut it. The problem that people have is time. We all get sucked into our day-to-day activities. We don’t set aside time for development. If you could increase employee satisfaction by 5% within your own department on a consistent basis, wouldn’t it be worth it? The cost is much greater in terms of their ability to perform if you focus on coaching. Coaching is easy to implement. All you have to do in an organization is to provide the managers with the skills necessary to coach and hold them accountable. In a lot of companies, it’s amazing that it doesn’t happen.

Finding A Mentor

Implementing a formal mentoring process in the workplace takes effort and time. Sometimes people don’t know how to go about doing that. Since we don’t have the capability of making that happen, I would focus on what you need to do personally to find a mentor for yourself. You all have the capability of going out and doing that. We all have what it takes to find a mentor. Let’s talk about how to go about doing it. Finding career mentors isn’t always easy. Who do you ask? How do you ask? What should you be looking for? These are all the questions that all of us ask ourselves. When it seems too hard, we give up. Asking someone you don’t know very well to be your mentor, it can be intimidating. Here are some tips that you can use to find a mentor.

The first thing you must do and the most important thing is to identify what you want. What are you looking for? What are the outcomes that you expect to get out of the relationship? What would a great experience look like? You have to get specific because the more wishy-washy you are, the less likely you’re going to find the right person. This process for you, it’s formal. You need to write down your specific expectations and the role you want your mentors to play in your career. Do you want someone who can help you improve your networking skills? Do you want someone who has knowledge in the artificial intelligence arena? Do you want someone who can help you learn more about certain investments or provide guidance on how to be a successful entrepreneur? Whatever it is. These are some examples. You personally have to outline your own expectations, your goals, and your objectives so that you can find the right person.

What a right mentor does is to help the person solve their own problem. Click To Tweet

The second thing is don’t get stuck thinking that the mentor must be within your organization. There are fabulous people everywhere. Think about maybe the associations you’re part of or the places where you go, churches, events, conferences. Look within your family. Great mentors can be anywhere. They’re much easier to find when you’ve clearly identified what you’re looking for. Once you’ve done that, then you make a list of potential people that you feel would help you achieve your goals. Now comes the hard part. Now comes the most frightening part of this whole thing of finding a mentor, which is setting up a meeting, asking them. That’s the hardest part. You need to take the risk. If you don’t answer, if you don’t ask, guess what the answer’s going to be. It’s always going to be unknown. Ask the person to meet and discuss a possible mentoring relationship. It’s open and honest. Asking is an important step because both of you must be clear on the terms. Both of you must be clear on the expected outcomes and the time commitments. This meeting has to take place somewhere that you’re both going to feel comfortable where you can both speak in confidence. It’s like a private setting.

Here’s the next thing. Be prepared for this meeting. Being prepared is paramount. I can’t stress it enough. If you’re not prepared and you don’t have everything outlined, the meetings will be a disaster for both of you. It’s going to destroy that relationship because you’re going to look unprepared. Think about it this way. You’re asking someone to put in their own personal time to help you develop. It’s flattering that you think so highly of them, that you want them to mentor you. If they’re as good as you think they are, their time is valuable. You have to show them that you’re worth it, that you’re worth them taking out of the busy day of their personal time to spend with you. You can’t buy time. You can never get more of it. It’s important. You must be prepared for that meeting.

The last step is important. Be crystal clear with your potential mentor. Once you find the right person and they agree to be your mentor, you’ve got to make sure that you’re both on the same page, that you both have the same level of commitment to your expectations. Be clear of the time requirement, the availability that you expect. Everything needs to be set up. You are putting together that meeting schedule and specific topics that you want to discuss. Be prepared and the rest is magic. Finding the right mentor can be a game changer.

CRS 38 | Coaching And Mentoring
Coaching And Mentoring: A mentor can be a game changer. They can be the person who lifts you to new heights.


I was giving you the step by step on what it takes to find a mentor. The first one is to clarify. Make sure that you’re crystal clear on what your expectations and goals are. The second one is don’t get stuck where you find your mentor. Go outside of your organization. Find the right person. Think about it. Write down exactly what your expectations are and who might meet those. The next step is to set up a meeting. Ask. If you don’t ask, you’re surely not going to get. The last one was to be crystal clear with what your expectations are. What’s the time commitment? What’s the availability that you expect? Those are all important things. The bottom line is that a mentor can be a game changer. They can be the person who lifts you to new heights. I’ve been blessed to have a mentor like that for many years. She herself climbed the corporate ladder and has been successful. She has helped me to be the same.

We’ve also talked about the differences between coaching and mentoring. We said that coaching is short-term. It’s tied to a specific manager. It’s working with you to improve or enhance your skills to be able to do your job in the most effective and efficient way. Coaching is linked to the tasks that you need to perform your job. When you move out of that role, that coaching relationship ends. Mentoring is different. It’s not just job-based. It’s career-based. It’s not done by somebody who you report to, but by somebody outside your chain of command and maybe even outside your organization completely. There are fabulous people out there. Find them. Mentoring is relationship-based and it’s long-term.

We talked about what mentoring is not. Mentoring is not someone who gives you all the answers or tells you how to do things. You have to go through that process yourself. They’ll provide you with guidance. They’ll ask those tough questions. They’ll make you see things that you may not have seen. All of that is to help you develop. To the organization, the benefits are great. In the environment nowadays, where people are less likely to stay with the company for the long haul, putting in these types of programs, they become the differentiator. They’re things that keep people or make people want to come to that organization. You can’t leave it to the organization. You have to take control over your career, over your happiness. It links directly to vitality. We talked about in order to live that long life of achievement, you have to be doing something that you love. You have to feel supported. You have to have those relationships. Find the right one. Find what you’re looking for. Don’t get stuck. Don’t give up because it’s hard or scary to ask for someone to help you. Once you find the right people, set up that meeting, be clear, and go for it.

Mentors don't come to you. You have to go seek them out. Click To Tweet

Soon, we will have another great show for you. The Carolyn Rivera Show is all about the readers. My purpose is to ensure that I find the topics that are on our minds, to talk about the things that we’re all going through, that you may be struggling with, and to find ways to help you through it to be more successful in all aspects of your life. Follow me on Instagram, @CarolynRivera14. If you’re ready to ignite your will to win, take that first step. Are you ready for personal growth? Are you ready to push yourself? Maybe you need a little reprogramming of your mindset. Go to my website at Send me a message. That’s what I’m here for. My passion is to help people succeed. Every day we’re faced with challenges. Sometimes that extra little push is needed to help us through it. Believe, commit, achieve is the secret sauce you’re looking for. This is Mama C signing off.

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