Definitions, philosophies, outcomes and benefits for your business – our in-depth look at mentoring vs coaching
Different philosophies and methods, same goal – which is best for you? We look at mentoring vs coaching for business, see where the two methods come from and what the benefits are:
WATCH: MENTORING VS COACHING
This is the recording of one of our online webinars on change-management for companies from 14 April 2020. And, if you don’t know LifeXchange Solutions yet, we started 15 years ago working with gangsters on the Cape Flats to try and figure out how the mind works. And we’ve made some remarkable discoveries using the disciplines of neuroscience, psychology and sociology to apply to change-mindsets in business. See our neuromanagement and advanced change-management business solutions.
Here’s what you need to know about mentoring vs coaching:
ORIGINS OF MENTORING VS COACHING
Before we even get to the definitions, you can glean a lot of info just by looking at each method’s origins. Coaching is a rather new concept, coined in 1830 by an Oxford University student to describe his tutor as being like a “coach” (wagon or carriage) that helped transport him to where he needed to be to ace the exams. So, coaching is related to the idea of getting someone to help “carry” or “transport” you to a place or state you want to be at.
While mentoring is thousands of years old. It originates from Homer’s famous Odyssey, where king Odysseus employed a person to guide and shape his son’s development in his absence. That person’s name was Mentor. And it’s worthwhile noting that Mentor was assigned to the son, whether the son wanted a “guide” or not.
A development process whereby an individual meets on a regular basis with a coach to clarify goals, deal with potential stumbling blocks and improve their performance.
– Cummings and Worley, 2009
DEFINITION OF MENTORING
A relationship between a more experienced person and an unrelated, less experience protégé, during which the mentor provides guidance, instruction and encouragement aimed at developing the competence and character of the protégé.
– Rhodes et al, 2006
PHILOSOPHIES BEHIND EACH
From the outset, it’s clear that there are two different drives at play here. With coaching, you see that it’s the coachee who wants to grow and achieve. They just need a vehicle to help get them to where they need to go – the coach is that vehicle. They can come in, observe, make adjustments and help the person towards their specific goals.
Mentoring is less specific but perhaps more holistic. It’s less about goals and more about character development. In fact, as we saw with the origins, the protégé (mentee) doesn’t even need to be the one who wants to change. The driving force here is the mentor who wants to help develop and grow their mentee.
OUTCOMES OF MENTORING AND COACHING
In both cases, though, the objective is the same: Change. Both mentoring and coaching aim to achieve sustainable change in the protégé.
And, as Dr Cobus and Tammy Oosthuizen point out in our video above, we have a way of understanding how to effect change in a person. The toolkit a coach or mentor will use to cause change is: Awareness (the protégé must be aware of what the think and do and how that impacts their life) + Tools (practical ways to change an achieve) + Accountability (being held accountable for what you do).
These three concepts – awareness, tools, accountability – are what we can use to develop people, but mentoring and coaching use them in different ways. Mentoring focuses much more on creating awareness in the protégé’s mind, and then holding them accountable for what they think, do and say.
While coaching, on the other hand, is much more focused on supplying the coachee with practical tools and then holding them accountable for applying those – the coachee is the one who wants to change after all.
Though the outcome or goal is the same, it’s worthwhile noting that the difference in the method could impact how successful either one will be. With coaching, the coachee must be the one to want to change, they must drive themself. If the protégé is not the driver, you’ll probably have more success with mentoring, where the mentor drives the whole process.
MORE SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES
We’ve taken a look at this topic before. For more ideas comparing these two development methods, check out our post on mentoring and coaching.
There’s also a quick visual doc outlining the main differences and similarities between coaching and mentoring. Download it here.
WHY BUSINESSES NEED TO FOCUS ON DEVELOPING PEOPLE
Why do we even need to look at these developmental methods? Well, there’s some remarkable research that shows there are numerous sustainability, profitability and growth concerns for businesses who don’t. And one of the major ones is staff retention.
According to global staffing firm Manpower Group, 36% of companies worldwide report talent shortages. With 31-34% of South African companies battling to find the right people to fill positions. At the same time, Kelly SA found that 47% of South African employees have been with their current employer for less than a year and 36% have never been in the same job for more than two years, according to their job-hopping report.
And, according to SHRM, replacing an employee can cost anywhere between 90–200% of their annual salary. The same research also found that employees are more likely to stay if 1) they feel there’s development to gain at the company and 2) they’ve developed social connections within the company.
BENEFITS OF MENTORING AND COACHING
Being a bit more targeted at driven individuals with specific goals, coaching can have tremendous benefits for teaching practical skills. Some examples are: when you’re rolling out a new system, process or software in the company, or, as Dr Cobus mentions, if you have a specific level of employee (executive, board or management) that you want to help achieve a certain standard, then coaching works extremely well.
Mentoring, on the other hand, seems to be more useful as a more inclusive, company-wide initiative, with specific benefits being:
- Encouraging retention (upskilling and creating bonds between people)
- Thereby reducing turnover costs
- Improving productivity (a by-product of development)
- Breaking down the silo mentality (cross-department interaction)
- Elevating knowledge transfer (within the company)
- Which maximises talent internally
- Supporting diversity and BEE (personal relationships that talk to culture)
- Can enhance strategic business initiatives (like spreading vision, mission and goals)
LifeXchange Solutions are experienced in facilitating both mentoring and coaching services for business. Our strengths-based development offers CliftonStrengths-based strengths coaching. And we also have over a decade’s experience in rolling out and facilitating mentoring programmes in companies through our mentoring training programme.
More info? Ask us.
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Discover our lauded business neuro mentoring training.
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