Difference Between Coaching And Mentoring [Explained]

. 6 min read
Difference Between Coaching And Mentoring [Explained]

Coaching and mentoring are two concepts that are targeted towards the same result, i.e., the individual’s growth and progress. However, even though they are used interchangeably, they are completely distinct concepts. In this article, we look at the difference between coaching and mentoring and how they influence an individual’s progress.


Coaching is a process in which a trained coach guides the individual to achieve specific goals that enhance personal and professional development. It is intended for a specific time to achieve a bound goal. In this process wherein the coach trains the student and guides them more than teaching them.

Here are some key points about coaching:

  • Coaching is more time-bound and has a predefined goal in mind.
  • It is a process of development that enhances an individual’s personal, professional growth.
  • It is more focused on guiding an individual than training them specifically.


Mentoring takes a more holistic approach towards development and is targeted at the overall improvement of an individual rather than for a specific goal. Usually, mentors are from the same management and share their skills and knowledge with the mentee rather than guiding them.

You may wonder that these definitions of coaching and mentoring are still subjective, and tend to merge into each other. However, there are distinct features they have in the process and assessment tools used, which sets them completely apart.

Here are some important aspects of mentoring:

  • Mentoring is an informal practice followed at the workplace that is targeted for an individual's overall growth.
  • It is an unstructured process that is used to build a healthy work relationship between mentors and their mentees with long-term career development goals.
  • Mentors do not need any formal training but are usually selected from the company management and usually are part of the same team or domain.

In the following section, let's take a detailed look at the major difference between coaching and mentoring and understand their process better.

coaching word written on wooden blocks

Difference between coaching and mentoring




Skills and Expertise

They need to take special training in order to coach people to achieve specific goals.

Mentors usually do not have any formal training. Their focus is to pass on the skills and knowledge to the mentee. 


Coaches use many formal assessment tools like 360 Review, StrengthsFinder, etc.

Mentors use more informal ways of assessment and performance. 


Provide guidance to individuals by enabling them to find their own solutions.

Mentors also focus on enabling individuals to find their own solutions but are usually direct when required.


Coaches are more formal in their engagement and approach and are specially hired for this purpose.

Mentors are usually within the organization, and therefore, engagement is informal. It is also an organically formed relationship.


Coaching is usually set up for the short term. In this engagement, a coach works with an individual for short-term goals. 

Mentoring spans several years. It is usually set up for achieving long-term goals for career development.


Coaching is more structured by organizations and sponsors.

Mentoring is more unstructured and informal. There may or may not be an agenda during mentor meetings.


Coaching is performance-driven and encourages individuals to perform in their daily roles.

Mentoring is more development-driven and is up to the mentee to leverage the guidance in achieving long-term goals.

Benefits of Coaching and Mentoring

Organisations invest in coaching and mentorship programs to encourage and motivate employees in sharpening their skills. This makes them more valuable to the organisations and their overall personal and professional development. The interesting aspect of these two methods is that they are not just limited to technical knowledge but also focus on training individuals in soft skills. Now that we’ve seen the key differences between them, we realise that while both are targeted at an individual’s progress, they have very different processes. An organisation needs both coaches and mentors at workplaces.

Let's look at some key benefits of both coaching and mentoring in the workplace.


  • Coaching at the workplace motivates employees to broaden their skillset.
  • They become more valuable to the organisation when coached in important and urgent skills and/or goals.
  • It empowers and enhances individual performance.
  • Develops individual strengths as well as the organisation’s.
  • Coaching can also be a great way to identify high potential in employees.
  • Coaching can lead to a healthy and competitive culture in the workplace.
mentoring concept written on black board with white chalk


  • Mentoring fosters a healthy relationship among employees.
  • It increases confidence among employees and creates a positive impact on their overall development.
  • Mentoring can lead to a healthy dialogue amongst senior members and junior members, which can give way to better work rapport.
  • A mentor can also benefit from this, as it is a great highlight to have on your resume when you’ve mentored a sizeable number of employees.


Differences between coaching and mentoring are distinct, and yet they are also congruous to an organisation's development. While one prepares individuals for short-term, definite goals, the other gives them more impetus to also focus on their long-term goals and enables them to have all the guidance to achieve them. Both have immense contributions to the company’s knowledge asset, and therefore, every organisation must indulge in having trained coaches and well-defined mentorship programs regularly.

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Q. What are 3 types of mentoring?

Ans. Mentoring is usually an informal practice with long-term goals at hand. However, it can be identified in the following 3 types:

a. Traditional one-on-one mentoring

b. Distance mentoring

c. Group mentoring

Q. What are the main aspects of coaching?

Ans. Coaching is more structured. Therefore, it should be based largely on these three aspects:

  • Problem identification - here, the coach identifies exact pain points for the team or individual to build on.
  • Goal setting - specific goals will lead to exact and error-free results. This helps the team/ individual to have better focus and be productive at the workplace.
  • Transformation process - this is where the coach provides effective and engaging techniques to help the team or individual to produce a good result.

Q. What are 3 good qualities a mentor should have?

Ans. A mentor usually builds long term relationships with their mentees, and therefore, here are some qualities that can make a good mentor:

  • Knowledge or expertise in the field
  • Enthusiasm to mentor others
  • Respectful attitude towards others

Q. What are the types of coaching at the workplace?

Ans. Coaching at the workplace is a very active practice and has undergone quite some changes over the years. Here are the types of coaching practiced at the workplace:

  • Executive coaching
  • Integrated coaching
  • Team coaching
  • Virtual coaching

Q. What is a Life coach?

Ans. Life coaches are wellness professionals who aid their clients to pursue and excel in life goals, career goals as well as daily goals.