Coaching and Mentoring: The same thing really…… aren’t they?

Recently, as I was supporting a client in implementing a structured mentoring programme, it turned out that many of the applicants to the programme really wanted coaching to support their development and not mentoring.

What is the difference I was asked?

A lot has been written in this area, yet many companies use the terms interchangeably and there certainly is a lot of overlap between the two concepts. For example, they are both about creating self awareness and personal development. Both are driven by the learner and lead to a culture where individuals value and take ownership for learning, creativity & problem solving.

So what are we splitting hairs about then?

Before investing in any development intervention it is important to stand back and look at your objectives, what do you hope to achieve both for the individual and the organisation?


In my mind mentoring is a developmental partnership through which a more senior or experienced person shares knowledge, skills, information and perspective to foster the personal and professional growth of another person.

Mentoring is biased in your favor and may include coaching, counselling, advising, networking and facilitation. Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.


Coaching on the other hand is the practice of supporting an individual through the process of achieving a specific role or professional result. The coach asks questions and challenges the coachee to develop their own skills/solutions.

Coaching is supportive yet impartial, focused on the development of specific skills, performance or behaviors.

Please comment with your own views and experiences of Coaching and Mentoring..

If you would like any help in implementing either a coaching or mentoring programme in your organisation contact Noreen ( or Valerie (

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