There are fundamental differences between mentoring and coaching in their purest terms.  Often the two get confused.  Let’s explain the differences and how they can be applied separately and combined to support others, colleagues, students and sometimes, our friends.

Depending on the situation someone may need a mentor.  For example, a new colleague will need guidance on” the way things are done around here”.  How do you complete certain forms or claim for travel or where the tea and coffee is.  Mainly, non-contentious issues.

In other situations, a coach might be required. Coaching is about personal development and growth of an individual personally or professionally.  A coach will support a person looking at options they might follow.  Its aim is to help someone clarify a situation that they are trying to resolve.

Trust and confidence are vital characteristics required to maintain both above relationships.

The Leadership Toolbox team can advise you on the best support we can offer you and/or you can support others..  Through a face to face needs assessment we will sign post you in the best direction for your context.

Some support can be short term; some may be on going.

Mentoring is a system of semi-structured guidance whereby one person shares their knowledge, skills and experience to assist others to progress in their own lives and careers. Mentors need to be readily accessible and prepared to offer help as the need arises – within agreed bounds.

Coaching is a process that aims to improve performance and focuses on the ‘here and now’ rather than on the distant past or future. Good coaches believe that the individual always has the answer to their own problems but understands that they may need help to find the answer.

This is an important addition to our toolbox of mechanisms to support colleagues and ourselves.

Supervision – Group or individual Non-Managerial Supervision.
Supervision is a process of being linked to fellow practitioners which gives rise to learning through sharing and allows the members of the group to gain knowledge, skills, experience and support.

It also enables them to enter a particular ‘community of practice’. By spending time with fellow practitioners, by ‘looking over each other’ shoulders’, taking part in discussions about the routines and practices and exploring our work, we become full members of this shared community of practice; the supervision group.

This is very much a case study centred approach. This can be a one on one relationship similar to above where a colleague meets with a trained more experience colleague within their professional field. It is not a support group for failing colleagues – quite the reverse it is an opportunity to further improve as a professional.

What to know more? Read on...