Coaching and Mentoring Tip Sheet

Coaching and mentoring are both valuable tools to promote and sustain growth and development.

They are different, but not mutually exclusive and can be used in tandem to great effect.

Mentoring is interventionist and directive - it provides guidance and support. It is most effective when a person has limited experience in managing a new set of challenges.

Imagine you are in your first month in a job and nearly everything is new to you. You would probably be looking for a mentor to provide guidance and support.

Coaching is non-interventionist and non-directive - it promotes metacognition, reflective practice and self-determination. It is most effective when a person demonstrates capabilities and experiences that enable autonomous growth and development.

Imagine you are experienced in your role and would like to further develop your capabilities. A coach could facilitate a process with you to establish development goals, demonstrate goal-directed actions and engage in reflective practice.

Selecting when to coach and when to mentor will be context specific. However, there is a risk that a person may become overly dependent on a mentor. Coaching can assist in moving a person from dependency to autonomy through promoting self-coaching.

Here are a few tips to develop positive and sustainable formal coaching and mentoring relationships:

  • Identify the purpose of the relationship
  • Establish expectations
  • Negotiate confidentiality
  • Agree to mutual accountability
  • Establish communication protocols.

One final important point - coaching and mentoring are not a substitute for professional treatment.