The Difference Between Mentoring and Coaching

Mentoring and coaching use the same approach and skills. However, coaching is considered short-term task-based, while mentoring is regarded as a long-term relationship. The CIPD differentiates between counselling, mentoring, and coaching. You will also need to keep in mind that these differences are usually delivered by individuals with different relationships and qualifications with their client. The differences between mentoring and coaching can be summarized as follows:


Mentoring is an ongoing relationship that can last for a more extended period. It could be more informal, and meetings are scheduled when the mentee needs support, guidance, or advice. It takes a much broader view of an individual. A mentor is usually more qualified and experienced than the mentee. A senior person within the organisation can generally pass on experience, knowledge, and will be able to open doors to out-of-reach opportunities. The primary focus is on your personal and career development. The mentee sets the agenda, while the mentor offers guidance and support to prepare them for roles in the future. Mentoring is more focused on developing the professional career of the mentee.


Relationships usually have a set duration of time. They are often more structured in nature, while meetings are scheduled quite regularly. Short-term and focused on specific development issues or areas. Coaching is usually not performed on a specific basis where the coach is required to have experience of the formal occupation in the client’s role unless the coaching is skills-focused and specific. The focus is primarily on issues at work or development The agenda is focused mainly on achieving immediate, specific goals. Coaching is based on specific development issues or areas.

Mentoring and Coaching Processes

Management and individual development can occur in several forms, some delivered by external and internal mentors or coaches and some by managers. The different activities are defined as follows:

Guiding – The process of directing a group or individual along a path that leads them from a present state to a more desired state.

Coaching – Assisting another individual to improve awareness, setting and achieving goals to develop a specific behavioural performance.

Teaching – Assisting a group or individual to develop cognitive capabilities and skills.

Mentoring – Assisting to shape an individual’s values and beliefs positively, usually a career relationship over the long term for someone who has done it in the past.

Counselling – Assisting an individual to help them improve performance which can be achieved by resolving situations and scenarios from their past.

Difference between Coaching and Counseling

Coaching is narrower focused, while counselling is in greater depth and broader focused. With coaching, the primary goal is to improve the performance of an individual at work, while counselling is to assist people in understanding the root of their issues or performance at work. Coaching is a short-term intervention, while advice is also considered a short response but can last for long due to the nature of issues that need to be addressed. With coaching, the agenda will be set by an individual, while counselling allows the schedule to be set by both counselor and the individual.