Change Management

Coaching and Mentoring At Work

Coaching and mentoring are learning techniques which help people to take charge of their own development, to release their potential and to achieve results which they value and need.  There is often confusion over the definitions of each and in this blog what I have tried to do is outline the differences and indeed the similarities.  Both however, facilitate the development and performance of individuals to the best that they can be based on their own inspirations and abilities.


  • Both require well-developed interpersonal skills
  • Both require the ability to generate trust, support commitment, generate new actions through listening and speaking skills
  • Both shorten the learning curve
  • Both aim for the individuals to improve his or her performance and be more productive
  • Both encourage the individual to stretch, but can provide support if the person falters or gets out of his or her depth
  • Both provide support without removing responsibility
  • Both require a degree of organisational know-how
  • Both focus on learning and development to enhance skills and competence
  • Both stimulate personal growth to develop new expertise
  • Both can function as a career guide to review career goals and identify values, vision and career strengths
  • Both are role models

Source: Zeus and Skiffington

If coaching and mentoring have much in common, then what are the differences?


Mentoring is often viewed as ‘off-line help by one person to another in making significant transitions in knowledge, work or thinking’ (Megginson et al. 2006). The mentor may be someone more experienced or senior in the organisation or profession, and often their services are offered, and taken up, voluntarily. Mentoring may be either short term or long term. It will usually involve personal, professional and career development. The mentor may be internal or external to the organisation.

Megginson et al. (2006) highlight two contrasting models of mentoring: sponsorship versus developmental.

  • In sponsorship they note that the mentor actively champions the client with the primary motive of career or professional success.
  • In developmental mentoring the mentor may be experienced but not necessarily more senior and the aim is to facilitate learning rather than provide answers.

Parsloe and Wray (2000: 82) summarise mentoring as ‘a process which supports learning and development, and thus performance improvements, either for an individual, team or business. Mentoring is usually understood as a special kind of relationship where objectivity, credibility, honesty, trustworthiness and confidentiality are critical’.

Within coaching the emphasis is changing. Experience is showing that the positive approach of helping clients to ‘astound themselves’ is far more beneficial than the type of managerial coaching which focused upon remedying performance deficits. Rogers (2004: 7) puts it this way: ‘The coach works with clients to achieve speedy, increased and sustainable effectiveness in their lives and careers through focused learning. The coach’s sole aim is to work with the client to achieve all of the client’s potential – as defined by the client’.

Coaching and Mentoring at Work

Coaching is increasingly being used by organisations to promote a learning culture, where leaders and managers are expected, as part of their role, to coach their own staff, who in turn learn coaching skills so that they can coach others. Coaching may be used as a tool for managing performance.

In IT a good example of coaching is the use of Super Users, Subject Matter Experts or Key Users.  They are identified as experts who coach others and help implement changes to the organisation as a result of IT projects. Having the responsibility of  equipping other people with the tools, knowledge, and opportunities, Super Users need to fully develop themselves to be effective in their commitment to others, the company, and their work.  True coaching improves employee and organisational resiliency and effectiveness in change.

An example of mentoring is in succession planning where someone is identified to fill a certain role in their career. The mentor can help the continuing employee become more knowledgeable and effective in their current job. They help the continuing employee reach new levels of knowledge, sophistication, and career development.  Mentoring helps the employee navigate the learning curve inherent in any new role and relationship.

A mentor may share with a mentee (or protégé) information about his or her own career path, as well as provide guidance, motivation, emotional support, and role modelling. A mentor may help with exploring careers, setting goals, developing contacts, and identifying resources.

A mentor facilitates change, a coach may implement it.

Evolution Culture offers many courses in Change Management and Training.  If change is implemented successfully, there has to be an element of coaching and mentoring of individuals and teams into successful adoption of change.  We discuss these important skills in our Change Management Courses and our Train the Trainer Courses.

If you need to know more, please visit our website or why not give us a call.

6th January 2020

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