Coaching and Mentoring: What’s the Difference?

coaching and mentoring

Successful training is a vital tool in terms of professional development and growth.  Several elements play a role in how productive training sessions and programmes can be.  At TELLAL we have decades of experience in training across a wide spectrum of subjects.  In addition to the advanced technology and innovative methodologies we use, our blended courses include expert mentoring.  This added layer of support and guidance from real-world professionals can be crucial to the engagement experienced by participants and ultimately aid in their long-term retention.  One of the most common questions associated with hybrid training models is ‘what is the difference between coaching and mentoring’.  If you’ve ever wondered that yourself, here is a little guide to help you break it down.

Let’s Start with Definitions

There are plenty of similarities shared between the principles of coaching and mentoring.  Both are used to facilitate successful professional development, but often the framework and results are quite different.  Coaching is more commonly used to achieve specific goals and applies a targeted approach with a more formal structure.  Mentoring is a more relationship-based tool that provides support and advice that is geared to the participants specific needs.  Coaching is more short-term and performance driven, while mentoring is usually provided over a longer period and is more development driven.  Both coaching and mentoring do share similar principles and goals including:

  • Unlocking potential
  • Career progression
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Trust and collaboration
  • Skills development

Finding the Right Fit

If you are wondering which medium would be right for you or for individuals in need of training within your organisation, there are a series of attributes to consider.

Coaching Benefits

Coaching is more commonly utilised to assist with specific career development areas and achieve certain outcomes, rather than overall personal development.  Coaches will often provide a more structured format that is intended to maximise results potential based on an existing framework that is goal-focused as opposed to individual-focused.  The key elements of coaching include:

  • Goal Training – coaching is often used to provide training in one or a few areas that would benefit the individual’s performance. It is a short-term resource that can be effective in providing participants with the necessary knowledge and self-awareness to progress in an area of the business.
  • Coach-led – coaching sessions will usually be structured by the coach and will be more centred on existing training practices that are the most likely to work for the desired outcome

Mentoring Benefits

Mentors are traditionally there to guide, advise and support mentees.  They often take on a role that assesses a more complete picture of the mentee’s strengths, weakness and goals, enabling them to identify how best to provide crucial assistance.  As well as offering exposure to new perspectives, mentoring leads to increased self-confidence, communication enhancement and the promotion of leadership skills.  It is often so effective that 89% of mentees go on to become mentors, which can generate a culture of learning within your organisation.  The key elements of mentoring that enhance its outcome are:

  • Time – since it is a more long-term provision, mentoring helps to develop productive relationships that can aid in skills growth throughout a career
  • Motivation – mentoring is typically a more voluntary initiative without compensation, this ensures that the mentors are invested in the mentee’s growth thanks to their desire to ‘give back’ or help future leaders find their voice
  • Structure – the remit of mentoring allows for relationship-focused guidance that is driven by the needs of the mentee and includes the sharing of personal experiences from both the mentee and the mentor. This softer approach makes it easier for mentees to connect with their mentor and find a more collaborative approach that suits their individual characteristics, thereby enhancing the chances of them achieving their goals.

If you would like to talk to one of the TELLAL team about any of our courses, mentoring or our training programmes, please get in touch via +971 (0)4 403 5146 or

Deborah Hennigan
Vice President - Operations
Coaching and Mentoring: What’s the Difference?
Deborah joined GEMS Education in 2011 working as Head of Biology at Jumeirah College Dubai. In 2013, Deborah moved to the Professional Learning and Development team at GEMS Corporate Office. In her role at TELLAL, Deborah has continued her close relations with GEMS schools and remains dedicated to school-based professional learning and development. Some of the areas that fall under her responsibilities include the up-skilling of in-service teachers and leaders on a needs basis, managing and quality assuring the central training calendar, and coordinating GEMS’ subject networks.
Coaching and Mentoring: What’s the Difference?
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